Last week, five-star QB recruit Tate Martell decomitted from Texas A&M, and set off the subtweets that stole every headline in the college football universe. Martell, the top ranked dual-threat QB in the country, visited Ohio State back in March, and will strongly consider the Buckeyes, along with Cal, USC, and potentially others.
Martell might be the biggest name left on Ohio State's quarterback recruiting board, but he certainly isn't the only one. Ohio State is also heavily recruiting Kellen Mond, a Baylor commit, and the fourth ranked dual-threat QB in this recruiting class. Bucknuts recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic recently told the Columbus Dispatch that "In fact, even though Mond is still committed to Baylor, I am of the opinion his interest in Ohio State is as great if not greater than that of Martell."
It sounds like the Buckeyes are in the hunt with two excellent, blue-chip quarterback prospects. They might even kick the tires on other candidates later in the cycle. That shouldn't be a surprise, since outside of Alabama, Ohio State has recruited better than virtually anybody over the last few seasons. The Buckeyes have blue chip prospects at every position.
But, in a year where space will be highly limited, does Ohio State really need a second quarterback?
It's worth pointing out, of course, that Ohio State already has a quarterback committed in the 2017 class, four-star Danny Clark. Clark, a quasi-local kid out of Akron, has been committed to Ohio State since he was a freshman. He's got an Ohio State tattoo. And while his recruiting profile has cooled a bit compared to say, his sophomore year, he's still a consensus four-star kid.
He's also a very different quarterback from Mond or Martell. Like Ohio State's more recent quarterback commitments, Clark is more of a pro-style quarterback, rather than a runner cut from the Braxton Miller cloth. Given that Ohio State recently added Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins, both of which are more pro-style options, it might make sense that Meyer and company would want at least one option in the QB room that could give the Buckeyes a different look.
But, if we're being honest, there's a pretty good chance that whoever Ohio State adds in this class never actually plays for Ohio State.
The tricky thing about quarterbacks, even excellent quarterbacks with spotless recruiting profiles, is that you can really only play one of them at a time. And Ohio State's QB depth chart is already pretty crowded.
Let's say that J.T. Barrett decides to return for his final season in 2017. He'll be eligible for the NFL Draft after this year, but based on his size and arm strength, isn't projected to be a top pick. Seeing that most of the 2016 offense should return in 2017, it's not impossible that he decides to make one more run at a national title and play out his final season. If that happens, here's your depth chart:
J.T. Barrett (RS-Senior)
Joey Burrow (RS-Sophomore)
Dwayne Haskins (RS-Freshman)
Stephen Collier (RS-Junior)
Danny Clark (Freshman, likely to redshirt)
Hypothetical second OSU QB
That's a lot of quarterbacks! It's worth noting that Burrow looked solid in the spring game, and coaches have praised him significantly since he's been at Ohio State. Haskins is the most celebrated QB prospect to pick Ohio State since Terrelle Pryor, and he'll have multiple years of seasoning at this point too. Even for a very well regarded player, passing either of those prospects is going to be tough. Even if Barrett leaves, Burrow and Haskins are going to have a leg up on the starter job over anybody in this class.
There's always the argument that whoever you recruit in the 2016 class could be the replacement for a Burrow or Haskins, but quarterbacks with five stars and huge offer sheets don't tend to pick programs where they'll need to sit for three years to get an opportunity. If playing time isn't an option for everybody, and that's just the math, somebody probably leaves.
That's important, because in this recruiting class, more than in any other during the Meyer era, space is at an absolute premium. The Buckeyes currently have 13 players committed, and Ohio State only has the roster room to add another eight or so. Even if a few currently committed players go elsewhere, as is expected, this group will be smaller than previous classes, unless there is massive roster attrition.
There's already going to be signifiant roster attrition anyway. Some of those will be for medical reasons, but for the roster math to work out, some players are going to get some difficult conversations about their projected playing time, and they'll end up elsewhere. You can probably look at a depth chart and guess where some of those conversations are going to be.
So that means that every commitment caries a significant opportunity cost. Not only does every commitment you accept for the 2017 mean that there's one more prospect you can't recruit, it might mean that it comes at the expense of a player currently on your roster.
So then, is the value of a second quarterback, even a really really good second quarterback, enough to justify that opportunity cost? The Buckeyes are looking at multiple elite defensive backs and wideouts for the 2017 class, and those players can play on special teams on day one. With Marcus Baugh potentially departing after this season, Ohio State might decide to add an additional tight end (they do not currently have one committed, and they're trying to get one).
Of course, Danny Clark might not be a part of Ohio State's class come signing day. After all, he didn't attend the Spring Game, and it's possible Ohio State isn't as confident in him as they were a few years ago (although rumors that they've asked him to grayshirt are apparently not true).
Early offers get reevaluated and pulled all the time, and if its done early in the recruiting cycle, it isn't such a terrible thing. But Clark, a recruit who has been "Mr. Ohio State" for the last few years, gets an offer pulled, it might have the potential to hurt Ohio State on the local recruiting trail a little more than if this happened with an out of state kid who hadn't made a similar commitment to Ohio State.
But even if Clark leaves, a 2017 quarterback is not likely to produce for a few years, let alone two quarterbacks, and it's not like Ohio State is short for options now. They're also recruiting many of the biggest 2018 QB names, and it's probable that they will be in the thick of it for a top-10 target that year as well. The Buckeyes are the early Crystal Ball favorites for 2018 QB Phil Jurkovec, an elite dual-threat prospect from Pennsylvania.
Getting a second name would be a nice luxury for the Buckeyes. It might even help them lock down commitments from other players. But given roster and scholarship space, maybe it isn't a necessity. If the Buckeyes only bring in one QB this season, that's probably just fine.