Guiton Embracing Underdog Role

Most people probably don't have Kenny Guiton taking the first snap of the Ohio State season, but most people probably didn't expect him to ever play at OSU in the first place. With plenty of motivation on his side, the popular sophomore thinks he has a chance to win the job after a solid start to fall camp.

When Kenneth Guiton was a sophomore quarterback at Aldine Eisenhower High School in Houston, he spent the first half of the year sitting behind another signal caller on the depth chart. When that player got hurt, Guiton went on to start for the powerful Eagles program for the next two and a half years and led the team to a playoff appearance while earning district offensive MVP honors.

When the class of 2009 recruit was looking at the colleges to play football, he wasn't seriously courted by most Division I schools and was set to play at Prairie View A&M in Texas. In the end, the No. 53 quarterback in the nation according to Scout got an 11th-hour offer from Ohio State – which he accepted – after the Buckeyes were spurned by Tajh Boyd and Austin Boucher.

The parallels are then there for Guiton's quest to become Ohio State's starting quarterback in 2011. Joe Bauserman is the veteran whose knowledge of the offense and experience give him an edge. Braxton Miller is the hotshot, five-star true freshman whose dual-threat capabilities give OSU the best chance to make big plays. Even Taylor Graham is getting ink as the strong-armed quarterback whose father played at Ohio State.

Then there's Guiton. Some have said he's not as experienced as Bauserman, not as flashy as Miller and doesn't have the cannon of Graham.

Of course, people have counted him out before, and we've seen how that turns out.

"I do feed off of it," he said. "It motivates me. I know that if people aren't saying your name, it's like motivation because you see that you don't have anything to lose. They're not expecting anything out of you anyway, so I just go out there and play every day."

Through two practices open to the media, Guiton has been the second player to receive reps each day after Bauserman. While it's hard to evaluate players after two days of work without full pads on, Guiton has looked consistent on short and intermediate throws, though he did toss an interception into coverage to safety Zach Domicone on Monday.

Eliminating plays such as that will go a long way to helping Guiton's stock, which is boosted by the intangibles he brings, quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said.

"He's got great leadership, he has great communication, he is very consistent in what we're asking him to do," Siciliano said. "Kenny has shown to be a tough kid. We're right on task with where we need to be right now."

Throughout the years, Guiton has become known as one of the most popular players on the team since arriving in 2009. It's not hard to see why, as he's quick with a smile and a few words with the media when made available.

"Kenny is a great guy," fullback Zach Boren said. "He's fun, he's energetic. He's definitely not afraid to speak up and say what's on his mind, which is good."

Considering Siciliano pointed to leadership as one of the key traits the eventual quarterback will have to have in addition to toughness and consistency, Guiton has to like that he's one of the more popular choices at the position.

"I feel like I have a lot of respect, and I feel like I've been here for a while so I know everybody," he said. "I'm doing a great job trying to lead. I feel like I can do more vocally, but I feel like I'm doing a good job with leadership."

On the field, he redshirted his first season and was the third-string quarterback a season ago behind fellow dual-threat option Terrelle Pryor and Bauserman. He got into five games, completing 1 of 2 passes but throwing an interception. On the ground, he also ran four times for 21 yards and scored a 15-yard touchdown late in the rout against Eastern Michigan.

With his talents both on the ground and with his arm, he seems suited to slide into a similar offense to the one the Buckeyes ran in past seasons under Pryor, and he pointed to the former quarterback as a source of inspiration both in positive and negative ways.

"I've learned a lot more from the day I've arrived," Guiton said. "It was a blessing to have seen the mistakes Terrelle Pryor made and the good things he did, so I'm learning from that and I'm learning from the everyday things I see other quarterbacks do and I do."

For the time being, Guiton is still part of the race to become Ohio State's starter come Sept. 3 vs. Akron. Not bad for a guy who was simply thought to be a recruiting throw-in more than two years ago.

"It motivates me every day," he said. "I try not to think about it, but as you know, it's always in the back of your head. I was the last recruit to come in. I got recruited two weeks before singing day. I think people probably didn't expect me to be in this situation. Now I just have to prove myself and prove that I can do the things to be a starter."

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