The Maturation Of Kenny Guiton

Just 22 months ago, Urban Meyer didn't see Kenny Guiton lasting long in his Ohio State program. Now the Buckeyes backup quarterback is in the school record books, and has turned into one of his head coach's top success stories.

It's hard not to be amazed by just how far Kenny Guiton has come. Even by his own admission, you wouldn't have to travel very far back into the Ohio State quarterback's past to a find a time where his behavior and actions could best be described as "childish."

When Urban Meyer arrived as the Buckeyes' head coach in late November 2011, Guiton was lucky to even be considered an afterthought. Sure, the meshing of Meyer's spread offense and Braxton Miller's talent was reason enough to cause excitement in Columbus, but Guiton's nonexistent resume on the field -- and less than stellar reputation off of it -- put him in Meyer's doghouse before spring practice for the 2012 season even began.

"I don't know how many snaps he played before our staff got here, but he probably didn't play many. It's not because the staff was screwing him over; he wasn't very good in a lot of areas," Meyer said. "I don't think he pushed himself academically, and he's an exceptional guy, and he didn't do things exceptionally. That means he was an underachiever."

"I wasn't much of a leader of the team," Guiton admitted. "To be blunt about it, I had a childish mentality."

So how did Guiton go from -- as Meyer put it -- having a one-way ticket back to Houston to being in possession of multiple Ohio State passing records? A little bit of luck was involved, but so was a whole lot of maturing.

Somewhere between his first few encounters with Meyer and the start of the 2012 season, Guiton grew up. During his first fall camp with the Buckeyes, the Ohio State head coach was quick to praise his team's second-team quarterback, touting Guiton as one of the instant turnaround stories in his short time in Columbus.

It was a cute story at the time, the backup quarterback who had gotten his life on track and might even go into coaching after his college career was over. It wasn't until Ohio State needed Guiton -- in the most literal sense of the word -- that he could prove that his sudden success story had any substance to it.

With an upper body injury sending Miller to the hospital during the second half of Ohio State's Oct. 27 matchup with Purdue, Guiton got that chance and made the most of his first meaningful opportunity. Engineering a fourth quarter comeback and overtime win against the Boilermakers, Guiton etched his name into Buckeyes lore, while simultaneously preserving his team's perfect season.

"Everyone's telling me that I have history now here and everything, but it really hasn't sunk in yet," Guiton said this past summer. "I really want to add more to it."

He didn't have to wait long into his senior season to do just that, with Miller exiting the opening drive of Ohio State's Sept. 7 showdown with San Diego State due to what turned out to be a sprained MCL. Called upon to play the most snaps of his five-year college career, Guiton responded with 235 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in what wound up being a 42-7 OSU victory.

As impressive as Guiton's showing against the Aztecs was, he was just getting started.

A week later the Buckeyes hit the road for a West Coast matchup with California, where Guiton got the first start of his career as Miller continued to work back to full health. His 368 yards of offense and four touchdowns against the Golden Bears matched Miller's highs from a season ago, and were not only good enough for a 52-34 victory, but led to Guiton being named the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week.

"I never thought something like that would come about," Guiton said. "Blessings keep coming. I'm just trusting the game plan, I go out and try to execute, and whatever happens, happens."

What happened next was historical.

A week after completing the longest pass in Ohio State history -- a 90-yard touchdown throw to Devin Smith -- Guiton reentered his name into the school record books with a single-game high six touchdown passes against Florida A&M. It may have been against an overmatched opponent in the Rattlers, but the significance of his historic day wasn't lost on Guiton, who at one point considered transferring from Ohio State.

"God has led me through this path. He led me to stay here. He's the guy that told me stay here, no one else," he said. "That was a decision on my own and he told me to stay and I did and he said it would pay off and now I'm seeing it."

As is his head coach.

While Meyer said that Miller will remain the Buckeyes' starting quarterback when he returns from his injury, he also noted that Guiton's steady streak of solid play has earned him some playing time. Just how that will come about remains to be seen, but the fact that it's even a possibility speaks to just how far Guiton has come in the past 22 months.

"He's an efficient player right now, he's an incredible manager, coach on the field. "His time came," Meyer said of Guiton. "It's not by accident that this thing happened."


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