After spending two seasons as a two-sport athlete playing for Strasburg, Va., Bauserman transferred to Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln and quickly earned the starting position under head coach David Wilson. Bauserman became the replacement for Gavin Dickey, a five-star prospect who accumulated 2,400 yards of total offense as a junior before signing with Florida for the class of 2002.
"We were an option offense before with Gavin and we just went purely almost shotgun and four wides every down and no huddle and hand signals (with Bauserman)," Wilson told BSB. "He came in and just ran our offense to perfection. We basically molded our offense around his talents. We were going to power and have some pass game and some option game and he ran enough option to keep the defenses honest but he came in and just mastered our offense and did a wonderful job."
This fall, Bauserman will have the opportunity to replace another dual-threat quarterback. The fifth-year senior is one of four Ohio State signal callers vying for the right to replace Terrelle Pryor, who announced his withdrawal from the program in early June. The oldest candidate in the derby, Bauserman earned a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes based on his ability to make plays through the air.
While throwing to the likes of Antonio Cromartie (now with the New York Jets), Todd Brigman (signed with Louisville) and Ryan Gilliam (signed with Oregon), Bauserman gained around 3,000 yards through the air as a junior. Buoyed by the potent air attack, the Trojans advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs.
His tenure at Lincoln got off to an inauspicious start, however.
"I think his first pass he ever threw at Lincoln was an interception," Wilson said. "Then he came back and threw for about 300 yards in the ballgame. He was sort of unflappable from that standpoint. He didn't let the last play bother him."
This time around, Bauserman's task might be a bigger challenge. Although Dickey was rated the nation's No. 5 quarterback prospect in his class by Scout.com, he never established himself with the Gators and took a backseat to Chris Leek. Pryor was the nation's top overall prospect.
Bauserman was rated a two-star prospect and the No. 55 quarterback in his class. Other two-star recruits in OSU's class that season included Dionte Johnson, Dennis Kennedy, Brandon Smith and Curtis Terry.
After leaving Lincoln, Bauserman signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent three years pitching in the lower levels of their minor-league system. Ironically, Dickey left the Gators and is currently playing Double-A baseball for the Mississippi Braves.
When he arrived at OSU, Bauserman talked about simply wanting to give the sport a chance after the three-year layoff. After the 2011 spring game, he indicated that simply being on the roster was no longer good enough.
"You come here not to be the backup," he said. "You come here to play and eventually move on to the next level. If it's one game, two games, five games, I'll take what I can get."
While Bauserman was taking a redshirt, junior quarterback Todd Boeckman led the Buckeyes to the national championship game. The following winter, OSU landed Pryor and he knocked Boeckman out of the starting role by the fourth game of the season.
Once Pryor became the starter, Bauserman's chances for ever seeing significant playing time were dim at best. In 24 appearances as a backup, Bauserman has completed 25 of 47 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Although Bauserman has been around the program, former teammate Dane Sanzenbacher said proving his abilities on the field is a different challenge.
"He's going to have to prove himself," the wideout said. "Even if you have been around, and Joe has been around and he's been working just like everybody else, when you step in the huddle you're still going to have to prove it on the field. That's going to be the first step."
Sanzenbacher added that Bauserman brings a calmness to his teammates when he steps on the field.
"He's never been that amped up, crazy guy," he said. "He's always been very even-keel. What he lacks in his physical attributes, I think he's got that quarterback moxie to him that he's probably had since he was in high school. He definitely brings that to the table."