There is no question as to who the starting quarterback for the Ohio State football team will be this season. Ohio State will enter the 2014 season with two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Braxton Miller, returning for his senior campaign. Miller has been a preseason Heisman candidate each of the last two seasons, and the same remains true this year.
Miller suffered from a lingering knee injury last season that required backup quarterback Kenny Guiton to see the field quite often, and Kenny G dazzled whenever he got the opportunity. Guiton was arguably the best backup quarterback in college football last year, and the combination of Miller and Guiton may well have won the Heisman Trophy if such a thing were possible. Guiton has since graduated and been signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills.
This leaves the Buckeyes with a vacancy at backup quarterback, a position of much importance with Braxton Miller’s physical running style of play. Miller had minor outpatient surgery on his throwing shoulder back in February and should be a very limited participant in summer practices. This leaves more reps to the quarterbacks competing to be Miller’s backup. There are three names you need to know in this backup QB competition.
Cardale Jones: 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, RS Sophomore, Cleveland, Ohio
Jones is infamously known for tweeting: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to plat SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” However, coaches have complimented him on his maturation this spring. Jones has lots of physical talent and good football IQ. He is a good runner for his size and has a strong arm, but needs to work on his accuracy. He entered spring practices as the leading candidate to be Braxton’s backup, and continues to take first team reps with Miller sidelined.
J.T. Barrett: 6-foot-1, 222 pounds, RS Freshman, Wichita Falls, TX
Barrett was ranked the number two dual threat quarterback of the 2013 recruiting class. While Jones is big and strong-armed, Barrett’s game is much more comparable to that of Braxton Miller. Last season, Barrett redshirted and underwent surgery to a torn ACL that he suffered while in high school. Coaches have spoken highly of Barrett’s intangibles and hard work to get himself back into shape this spring, which could give him an edge in the race as we get closer to the start of the season.
Stephen Collier: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Freshman, Leesburg, GA
Collier seems to be headed towards a redshirt season, as he is the clear third leg in this competition. Head coach Urban Meyer has called Collier “a developmental guy” but a good fit for Ohio State. Don’t expect to hear much about Collier this year, but he will become relevant in seasons to come.
My Prediction: Cardale Jones has the physical tools to be a great quarterback, but doesn’t seem to be putting them to good use. I believe that J.T. Barrett will impress coaches this summer and win the backup job over Jones.