Though fall camp is well underway we are little closer to knowing the answer. Braxton Miller's move to wide receiver has cleared things up a bit, but the choice between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones remains a difficult one.
The two accomplished quarterbacks, Barrett the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Jones the quarterback of three postseason wins, determined the first rep of the fall via coin flip and head coach Urban Meyer insisted they would split snaps evenly for the first dozen practices. Even if a leader emerges after that, don't expect to hear about it.
“It’s a little different because they are both established guys," Meyer said. "Cardale not necessarily, but Cardale has been here a long time now. What is this, his eighth year here? J.T. has played a lot of football. We won’t announce anything until the first guy takes the field against Virginia Tech. That won’t happen.”
Delaying the announcement will certainly give the Buckeyes an advantage against the Hokies, but the Ohio State staff will have a decision made long before Sept. 7. Quarterbacks coach Tim Beck, however, implied that even if a game one starter is determined, the competition could continue throughout the season.
“There's probably going to be times throughout the season we're going to need both of them,” Beck said. “To just settle on one and say, 'Here's the keys,' and the other guy sits back and becomes the second-team guy. I don't know if that's the right thing to do. I think the best thing to do is let them keep competing. Competition is a beautiful thing. It keeps them focused, keeps them working hard, and the better guy at the end will come out being that guy, but we're going to need that backup too."
There has been speculation that a two quarterback system – one like Meyer implemented with Florida quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Chris Leak on the way to the national championship in 2006 – could be used by Ohio State this season. However Jones and Barrett have more overlap in their skillsets than Tebow and Leak did, meaning the offense is completely open to either of them.
Meyer and the rest of his staff have reiterated that everything – from individual reps to leadership to off-field demeanor to a gut feeling – will be used to make the decision.
Behind Jones and Barrett sit three quarterbacks waiting for their turn. Redshirt sophomore Stephen Collier has yet to take a game snap while freshmen Joey Burrow and Torrance Gibson come to Columbus with high expectations. Gibson is an elite athlete who has taken reps at wide receiver this fall, but coaches have said his future is at quarterback.
"Work ethic,” Beck said when asked what he saw in the freshman QBs. “Both of those guys are really hungry guys. They want to do right. They're very talented guys, both of them."
QUARTERBACK DEPTH CHART
NotesStepping in for the injured Braxton Miller, Barrett recovered from a rocky start to the season to break the Big Ten's 16-year old record for touchdowns accounted for in a season with 45. Despite breaking a bone in his leg in the final game of the regular season and missing the Buckeyes three postseason games, Barrett finished fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
NotesJones sat and watched for much of the 2014 season while J.T. Barrett rewrote the record books, but when his name was called for the team's three postseason games the big-armed QB was nearly unstoppable. Against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, Jones averaged 247 passing yards on 61.3 percent passing. He accounted for six touchdowns in the three wins, though he did turn the ball over four times.
NotesBuried on the depth chart behind established players last season after redshirting in 2013, Collier has not taken a snap in his Ohio State career. Collier threw for over 2,200 yards and rushed for over 1,000 while accounting for 44 total touchdowns as a high school senior in Georgia.
NotesThe highest ranked of Ohio State's freshmen, Gibson is an elite athlete that came to Ohio State to play quarterback but has taken reps at wide receiver in fall camp. His combination of size and speed could make him an elite fit at quarterback for Urban Meyer's system should he remain at that position.
NotesA coach's son from Ohio, Burrow checks all the boxes for an Ohio State quarterback. The four-star prospect needs to bulk up and prove that he wasn't just capitalizing on subpar competition while playing at Athens High School, but Burrow has a strong arm and high football IQ.