Bauserman Impresses In First Showing

Not much went right for the Gray squad during Ohio State's spring game, but it was hard to argue with the performance turned in by Joe Bauserman. The walk-on showed both poise and a cannon arm while skippering his side, but one would expect the battle for the No. 1 backup slot behind Todd Boeckman will continue to rage come fall.

Joe Bauserman is a jack of all trades.

According to Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline, Bauserman is one of the team's best athletes. Of course, he's already played another sport professionally, having spent three years as a pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but Hartline says that's not all – the Tallahassee, Fla., native also excels at athletic contests like pool, ping pong and basketball.

"He's a full-blown athlete," Hartline said.

And after Ohio State's spring game Saturday, it's apparent that Bauserman is a heck of a quarterback as well. Reports during camp said that the walk-on had pulled even with Antonio Henton after spending last year as a redshirted freshman, and Bauserman won over a few fans during a standout performance at the spring-ending scrimmage.

The 6-2, 220-pounder skippered the Gray team during the final three quarters, completing 7 of 14 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Though the side fell to the Scarlet by a 20-7 count, Bauserman looked like a cool, composed leader during his first public appearance in Ohio Stadium.

He also showed that he's not afraid to look for a big play. His touchdown pass, which tied the score at 7 with 2:49 to go in the second quarter, was a 51-yarder to sophomore Taurian Washington. Both Washington and Dane Sanzenbacher lined up on the left side and ran deep post patterns over the center of the field. Both were open but Bauserman went for the big blow, hitting Washington at the goal line for the touchdown.

But perhaps his best throw was one that ended up not counting. With the Gray trailing 17-7 early in the fourth, Bauserman took the snap at his own 37-yard line, evaded pressure, stopped on a dime and lofted the ball 60 yards in the air down the middle of the field. It landed safely in the arms of Washington for another touchdown, but a holding penalty negated the play despite a throw that left some oohing and aahing.

Apparently, the arm that used to launch baseballs at a high rate of speed can do the same with a pigskin or two.

"He's got an arm," starter Todd Boeckman said. "He can make all the throws. I've been really impressed with what he can do."

While some might be surprised at the strides Bauserman – who originally committed to OSU in 2004 as a two-star quarterback before his baseball odyssey – has made since arriving in Columbus for the 2007 season, that sentiment isn't shared among the team. He has been lauded by many for his work starting with December's bowl practice, and his emergence was expected by at least one player in Hartline.

"I don't think he's been that much of a surprise to myself because I always thought he was a heck of a player. I saw it coming," said Hartline, who missed his senior season of high school while recovering from a broken leg. "From my standpoint, when I came in I was only out for a year because of my injury. This guy was out two, three years and what he did this past fall was already remarkable. His upside I think is phenomenal."

Bauserman also showcased some ability with his legs. Standing behind a patchwork line that included just one projected starter in right tackle Bryant Browning, Bauserman was often forced to take off, and he finished second on the team with eight rushes for 12 yards. Taking out the three sacks he suffered, he ran for 25 yards on five carries.

Henton, known as more of a dual-threat QB, had a decent day himself. He directed two second-half scoring drives for the Scarlet team, ending 5 of 7 for 62 yards on the winning side. Combining his totals with the two teams, Henton finished 6 of 12 for 77 yards with four rushes for 6 yards.

"I thought both Joe and Antonio showed some elusiveness," head coach Jim Tressel said. "They had to demonstrate a little escapability and they did that. Both of them, I thought, showed a little bit that they kept their head up while they were under duress, which is something we talk about."

From here, the quarterback battle becomes of special interest with the nation's No. 1 prospect, Terrelle Pryor, coming to OSU in the summer. Many expect Pryor to see some snaps as a true freshman, but Tressel was noncommittal when discussing the future quarterback situation when it comes to Henton and Bauserman.

"It's way too far out to worry about who's your backup, but I thought this was a good day for both of them to experience," Tressel said.

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