Entering the season tasked with replacing last season's Heisman Trophy winner, head coach Jim Tressel held an open competition that was junior Todd Boeckman's to lose. The question quickly became who was his primary backup, sophomore Robby Schoenhoft or redshirt freshman Antonio Henton.
Following the team's 58-7 victory against Northwestern, it appeared Henton had passed Schoenhoft. In the final five OSU possessions, the native of Fort Valley, Georgia, was under center for four of them. He finished the day 2 of 4 for 20 yards and rushed the ball 7 times for 31 yards, looking composed and in control in the pocket.
But three days later, Henton was arrested for soliciting a prostitute near campus. He was suspended from team activities for about a week, and when he rejoined the team he did so as the scout team quarterback.
Henton saw no more game action for the rest of the season, but the coaches feel confident enough in his abilities that they have named him the No. 2 quarterback for Monday night's BCS National Championship Game against LSU.
So, too, does Henton, who spoke with reporters on Saturday's media day for the first time since his arrest.
"I just think about those seven weeks when I'm going against our defense and they are the best defense in the country," he said. "I feel like I've been going against them for seven weeks and I should be ready."
Henton said he eventually pled guilty to the charge against him to simply "put it behind him." After his arrest, he quickly had a meeting with head coach Jim Tressel to discuss the situation.
At media day, Henton said he was wrongly accused by the police – an assertion Tressel did not necessarily deny.
"I believe that whatever he and his legal team decided to do was the best thing for him and that he may have been misunderstood," Tressel said. "(That) might be the best word."
The support from his teammates has been similar, Henton said.
"I can't say it was just one teammate," he said. "I feel like all my teammates, all the coaches, my family and everybody that supported me back home and in Columbus. There was not one time when I was in the locker room and someone said negative things like, ‘Why did you do it?' When I came back in they were like, ‘We know you didn't do it, just get it over with and get back with us.' "
Schoenhoft said the relationship between himself and Henton has not changed since the redshirt freshman was promoted.
"I still talk to him and Todd (Boeckman) about what I see," said Schoenhoft, who is working as a tight end on the scout team until the spring. "I've always done that after every snap. He's always like, ‘What do you see, Robby? What do you see?' Obviously I'm not there all the time, but I'm still there for Tone. He's one of my friends, and friends come first."
Now that he is firmly back with the team, the question is what sort of role – if any – Henton could be playing in the title game. Although he claims to not be rusty from his lack of game action, it still has been more than three months since he last took a meaningful snap.
Tressel pegged his chances of playing in the game at fifty percent. OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said there is not a specific game plan in place for Henton but that he could be used as a change of pace quarterback to spell Boeckman.
"I don't think you sit down and have a separate game plan – that's a little tough to do – but I think you look at your game plan and figure out what does he do best and what does he understand best out of that game plan," Daniels said. "So it's a possibility he could be in the game."
Although he is more of a mobile threat than Boeckman, Henton said the coaches approach both of them as passers first and rushers second. However, when he is on the field in practice Henton said he is primarily used in a spread formation.
Henton said he believes he will get in for at least one play simply to see how the LSU defense will react. Regardless of whether or not he does see playing time against the Tigers, they will have to prepare as if he could get on the field.
That in itself could pay dividends.
"Could you take your whole plan and have Antonio run it Monday night? Probably not," Tressel said. "He hasn't had those practice reps to do all that. But he has a portion, I think, down conceptually that when we call on him he'll execute."
LSU head coach Les Miles said they have seen every play of Henton's from this season and that they have been planning to find ways to plan for him.
"We saw all of his early tape and we got a decent feel for his abilities," he said. "I think we have a nice plan ready to go once he steps on the field."