With quarterback J.T. Barrett moving on to the NFL, the Ohio State football team will need a new shot-caller in 2018. While Barrett leaves behind some pretty big shoes to fill, the Buckeyes do possess a couple of talented guys to fill the vacancy.
Barrett, signing with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent, had a stellar four years as Ohio State’s field general – including a National Championship in 2014.
In 50 games, Barrett threw for 9,434 yards with 104 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, completing over 63 percent of his passes. A big time threat in the ground game as well, he rushed for 3,263 yards and another 43 touchdowns, averaging five yards per carry.
His production on the field made him one of the greatest quarterbacks in Ohio State history, shattering school records across the board. There will be lofty expectations for whoever steps up to the plate in 2018.
Luckily for the Buckeyes, the guys battling for the starting position are more than qualified to pick things up right where Barrett left them. With Joe Burrow transferring to LSU, the fight to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback will be a two-man contest between redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins and sophomore Tate Martell.
Haskins is the odds-on favorite to win the job. Originally committed to Maryland, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback flipped to Ohio State. His large stature and incredibly strong arm have drawn many comparisons to former Buckeye QB Cardale Jones.
The former four-star recruit saw most of the backup reps last season, with Burrow missing a chunk of the season with a broken bone in his throwing hand. Haskins has already put his skills on display big time in a Buckeye uniform.
Replacing a injured Barrett down 20-14 in the third quarter against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Haskins helped to lead the team on a comeback, eventually winning the game 31-20. Haskins completed six of his seven pass attempts for 94 yards, rushing for another 24.
Overall in 2017, Haskins threw for 565 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, mostly in garbage time. Unlike Barrett, Haskins is not as quick on his feet – averaging only 3.6 yards per carry on 24 attempts. What he lacks in speed, however, he makes up for in pocket presence and arm strength.
While it is seemingly Haskins job to lose, Martell makes a strong argument as to why he should instead be the one to lead the Buckeyes in 2018.
Unlike Haskins, Martell did not see any game time in 2017 as a freshman. However, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound quarterback out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas brings with him a very unique skillset.
As his high school team’s starting quarterback, Martell went 45-0 and finished second in Nevada history with 7,510 yards passing and 113 touchdowns. He won the Gatorade Football Player of the Year award in his senior season, wherein he passed for 2,362 yards and rushed for 1,253, totaling 62 touchdowns.
While Martell is undersized and lacks in-game experience, it would not be shocking to see Martell earn the starting job before the season begins.
As was the case with J.T. Barrett, Urban Meyer loves the ability to run with the quarterback on offense. Martell is much better on the ground than Haskins, and while they might be sacrificing a little in the passing game, Meyer could choose to go with Martell as he better fits the offense they ran with Barrett at the helm.
Ohio State’s first game takes place on Sept. 1, when they take on Oregon State in Columbus.
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