Other analysts take on the easy stuff: Will Dustin Fox move to safety? Will Drew Carter be the third wide out? Will NC State get caught for cheating this year? Etcetera. But Mr. Bucknuts has never played it safe. It's just not in our business plan.
So, from the same soothsayer who advised you on Buster Davis, Adam Graessle, Stanley McClover and Kenyon Buford, let's get to the heart of the heart of the matter: Who will become the Buckeye quarterbacks of the future?
And to drill down and analyze that situation, a corollary question needs to be asked: What type of quarterback does Coach Tressel want out there running his offense? One of the few things we can say with any certitude is that Jim Tressel will be around. Thus, the quarterback has to be the kind of QB that Coach T wants to deploy. To further amplify the magnification, Tressel is basically the quarterback's coach, because that's where he feels the most comfortable as a specialist. So that position (QB) really has to mimic the football personality of the man (Tressel).
Here is how our coach views our game:
1. He doesn't want bad or sloppy decisions.
2. He doesn't want to lose the game on offense.
3. He wants to control the clock.
4. He wants to win with defense and special teams.
It's working. He won the whole enchilada last year with a sputtering offense, fantastic defense, sterling special teams' play and a strong combination of good karma mixed with serendipity.
Well, how does all that gibberish factor in to choosing a quarterback? The guy that Tressel wants mirrors the system that Tressel uses. Craig Krenzel would be that perfect guy if he 1) Had a little stronger arm 2) Read the field a little better and 3) Was a better open field runner. Now, mind you, he's not bad in any of those three areas, but he's not great. Where he is great is in his determination, his minimizing of mistakes and an otherworldly will-to-win.
The next gaggle of applicants for the job of OSU QB really comes down to just two: Justin Zwick and Troy Smith. If we could create an overlay with the candidates on top and the perfect ideal on the bottom, what would it yield? Let's look:
1. He's got a stronger arm than Krenzel, but it's still not his calling card.
2. He's got better feet than Krenzel but no one will mistake Justin for a single-wing applicant.
3. He's smart. He's been through the fire. He's a leader and has lead at the highest levels, to this point.
When you look back at the intangibles, this is a hell of a kid. He took Orrville to the state title as a freshman, beating a terrific Coldwater team with a last minute drive and a last second touchdown. That speaks tons. He transferred to nearby Massillon as a junior because he wanted bigger challenges. That earned him a starting job at one of the most storied programs in the nation, but also earned him the opprobrium of the whole town of Orrville, which was deeply offended by the move. He took the heat and had the first 10,000-yard passing career in Ohio high school history. He also took an unbelievable pounding at quarterback, particularly against St. Ignatius. But he hung in there - in school and in the pocket.
A leader? After committing to OSU, he called kids around the country to talk them into coming as well. And he succeeded. In fact, he hasn't failed at much in his short life. An excellent student, well liked by his friends and a tireless worker. Not a bad overlay, there…
1. He's got a cannon for an arm. A bazooka. A howitzer. Some people have
talked about seeing him throw the ball 80 yards. And he's surprisingly accurate.
2. As good as his arm is, his feet might be better. Makes something out of nothing. Extremely athletic. Think Mike Vick…
3. He only played one year as a quarterback in Glenville's system. And the competition in the Senate League is not exactly the same as playing Warren Harding and St. Iggy.
4. Troy barely skimmed through the Cleveland school system and was an academic risk when the staff took him in late January. And a leader? We don't know yet. But he's a very personable kid…
Smith is the prototypical great athlete trying to become a great quarterback. He could be a Brad Banks or he could be a Steve Bellisari. It's always difficult when you haven't been through years and years of QB decision-making. Though not impossible. Troy also moved high schools (from St. Ed's as a receiver to the Tarblooders as a QB).
Stats-wise, it's no contest. Zwick threw for ten thousand yards. Smith for less than a thousand. Zwick had more career touchdown passes (110) than Smith had completions. And at 6-4 220 pounds, Zwick makes the 6-1 205 pound Smith look more like a scatback.
Where do we go with this analysis? Zwick is Craig Krenzel with more potential yet with unproven intangibles. Smith is simply unproven. With a coach like Tressel, who doesn't want his quarterback to lose the game for him, you gotta go with a guy like Zwick over a guy like Smith.
Mr. Bucknuts sez: Odds are 3-1 for Zwick and 10-1 for Smith. But just like poker, the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing. So what does that mean for Troy Smith?
If I'm Smith, do I get discouraged? Absolutely not. For Zwick to maintain his
he's got to stay uninjured. And Troy Smith should remember this factoid: three of the last five upper-class Ohio State quarterbacks transferred. Priestly went with Walt Harris twice. Moherman dropped down a division. And McFadden is playing basketball for Akron. So anything can happen. And probably will!
That's a glib look at the 2004 starter. Now let's speculate about our 2007 quarterback…
A quick (and presumptuous) glimpse at 2007
We've got one already in the barn and three rounding the far turn, with more hosses right behind. The one in the barn is Boeckman, a thoroughbred from St. Henry. Todd really wants to play at OSU and he's taken a bit of a beating to get here. You gotta like his devotion.
Here's my handicapping of those three. (My real handicap is lack of vision, of course…):
A coach's son, he started all four years at St. Henry - a great football power, albeit in the small school division. Todd was a world-beater as a freshman, but took a beating his last three years. First, he lost his offensive line and then he had a series of injuries due to the pummeling. But this is a kid who is driven. He is All-State in basketball and an All-State baseball player. At 6'6'' or 6'7" with a ton of athletic ability, he could be your quarterback or your tight end (remember Tommy Hoying from the same school?)
Brian has come on like Brady Quinn did last year. He is from a great Division I power (St. Ignatius) that is known for developing great quarterbacks. He seems to be in the Justin Zwick mold with just as much potential. Another big kid (6'5"), he just needs to start off fast this year to be in line for an OSU offer.
Big on the "wow factor". Tremendous athlete who drove his team to a state championship as a junior despite playing with a broken hand. Not real big (6'1") and not real strong, but a great athlete in the Troy Smith mold, with a lot more seasoning.
If Brian Hoyer is this year's Brady Quinn, then Darryl Clark might be this year's John Ferguson. For all of you non-obsessed types, that means Clark started off fast and is slipping. And - I hate to say this - but the Ursuline program has really been tilting and trembling as of late. I don't see Clark as having the tools - or the necessary stage - to prove himself an OSU-worthy candidate.
The big pack coming down the stretch could be a big deal, indeed. Anthony Morelli (from Pennsylvania) has already been offered. And Brian Brohm (from Kentucky) told us he really likes Ohio State but they haven't stayed in touch. Brian might be ranked the #1 QB in the country this year so the lack of follow-up is odd. He is said to be headed to Notre Dame (which he denies…), which could be the ultimate irony for Brady Quinn's rejection of the Bucks. There's also Alex Engram from Warren Harding by way of Texas. He is supposed to be a gunslinger but we don't have any specific poop on him. Yet.
And there are always more. Are the Buckeyes interested in them? Are they interested in the Bucks? Stay tuned…
What will the Buckeyes do in 2004 to get ready for 2007? Well, they should be taking two QB's. They tipped that hand since they already have Boeckman, yet offered Michael Bush as a quarterback. With Boeckman in the gray shirt fold, one more will be coming. Odds are:
The field: 10-1
The betting logic on Hoyer follows the same "logic" on Zwick. That is, he fits the system and he fits the personality. Yet, don't discount Turner too much because, like Troy Smith, he has some flexibility in his positions.
My position is that you will see Zwick starting in 2004 and Hoyer starting as a red shirt junior in 2007. Get back to me and let me know how it all turns out…
* * * * *
Duane Long and his colleagues have been following Anthony Turner since he was a freshman, Brian Hoyer since he was heir apparent to Nate Szep and Darryl Clark since that great Ursuline freshman class of 2000.
Now Duane is coming out with the biggest and most comprehensive and prettiest Ohio's Future Stars of all time. And it will be out next week! For those of you who remember, the March issue used to be the only issue - as it introduces the soon-to-be seniors in ranked order, #1 through #100. It is a magnificent undertaking that has grown more ambitious over the past few seasons.
This particular OFS has proprietary pictures of each of the top ten juniors and more than fifty pictures overall. It has a ranking of the top sophomores, including Jamario O'Neal, one of the earliest commitments in Buckeye history. And, yes, it profiles the most promising freshmen, as well. Plus, Duane put together some special features that should make your recruiting socks go up and down.
Right now, this magazine goes to all the Ohio high school football coaches and most of the Division I college coaches. So you are seeing the same things that they are (all right, they probably have some supplementary information, too!). The sleek looking OFS is actually a compilation of thousands of phone calls, interviews with players and coaches, and hour upon hour of watching tapes on almost all of the players that are ranked.
No one else does that. No one else publishes it.
We are proud to publish OFS for Duane and ask for your support so that this venture can continue to build and expand. Duane Long is a hell of a resource and this magazine is one of the ways he can make a living out of his hobby. And that makes the rest of us a little more knowledgeable about one of our favorite hobbies: recruiting.
So check out the front page of Bucknuts and see your way clear to subscribing to OFS. On behalf of Duane Long, we appreciate your support!
E-mail Mr. Bucknuts at firstname.lastname@example.org