COLUMBUS — The start of Ohio State’s spring football game was moved up on Saturday but the timetable for naming a starting quarterback wasn’t, even though the three candidates for the job mostly lived up to the 4-star rankings they brought to OSU as recruits.
Realistically, it is probably a two-man competition between red-shirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins and junior Joe Burrow with first-year player Tate Martell making a pitch for playing time based more on his athletic ability as a runner than being a polished QB.
All three quarterbacks played for both sides in a 37-14 win by the Gray team over the Scarlet team. Haskins and Burrow both threw two touchdown passes and Martel’s 69 yards rushing made him the second-leading ground gainer in the game, which started two hours earlier than originally scheduled to avoid incoming bad weather.
Burrow went into preseason practice last season listed as the back-up to four-year starter J.T. Barrett but when he suffered a broken hand in late August the depth chart was rearranged.
After Haskins came into last year’s Michigan game to replace Barrett when he was injured and led OSU to a come-from-behind 31-20 win, he became the logical successor in many people’s minds.
But OSU coach Urban Meyer said it was an open competition and he said Saturday that decision has still not been made but that the process of making his decision will begin soon.
“We have to make some decisions. Those decisions have not been made,” Meyer said.
“You’ve got Joe Burrow and Dwayne (Haskins) who are competing right now along with Tate. So we’re going to have some very good meetings. I’m going to scour some statistical data,” he said.
That data, though, is secondary to intangibles like leadership and toughness in the OSU coach’s mind. And he said a “gut feeling” also plays a role when he chooses a quarterback.
Haskins says he thinks he has offered enough proof he should be the starter.
“I feel like I should be the guy, but I got to keep doing so until it’s proven,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done enough but enough is never enough. I’m going to keep going and keep pushing myself.
“We’re all fighting for the same thing, we all know that,” he said.
If the decision is that Haskins will be the starter, Burrow could make a decision that would put him in a different uniform in the fall. He will graduate from Ohio State in May and would have two years of eligibility remaining and could play right away as a graduate transfer.
His first goal is to win the starting job at Ohio State. But if that doesn’t happen, he left few doubts after Saturday’s game that he would explore a transfer.
“Now some decisions have to be made. You have to step back and evaluate some things and meet with your coach and see what they’re thinking, what you’re thinking,” Burrow said. “I think this spring I played about as well as I could. I put everything into it. That decision is for the coaches.
“You know the body of work you have. I know I played very well. I can kind of sit back and see how it plays out.
“I came here to play. I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years,” he said. “I know I’m a
pretty darn good quarterback and I want to play somewhere.”
“It would be really hard for me to leave. I’ve put so much into this and I’ve put my heart and soul into it. If I were to leave it would be pretty devastating for me. But at the same time, I would understand how they went.”
THE GAME GOES ON: Meyer said he was happy the spring game was played despite an ominous weather forecast earlier in the week that led Michigan and Wisconsin to cancel their spring games.
“Our objective in a spring game is to find out who can perform in an environment where it’s not a practice field, it’s a stadium. It is very valuable. That’s why we didn’t want to just bag it,” he said.
“Gene Smith (OSU’s athletic director) and everybody worked really hard to find an appropriate time to not put people in harm’s way and also get a good scrimmage in. That was Objective No. 1. Objective No. 2 was a lot of recruits come here and it’s kind of nice to showcase every year that we lead the country (in spring game attendance).”
ATTENDANCE NUMBERS: Ohio State sold 79,000 tickets for the spring game but the announced attendance was only 47,803.
HIGH ON DRE’MONT JONES: Meyer said defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones “probably had the best spring of anybody on our team.”
Jones was one of the underclassmen at Ohio State who considered entering the NFL draft but returned for the 2018 season.
“He was outstanding this spring. He had a great spring. If he continues his development he could be one of the best at what he does in America.”