"The expectations are going to be very high for him to come in and learn the offense, and compete to try to play...That’s part of the competition level and part of being a quarterback here at Ohio State."
-Ohio State quarterbacks coach Tim Beck, via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch
Given what the Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback battle looked like this time last year, it seemed unfathomable that an incoming true freshman would have a shot at even the backup position. And yet, that is the expectation heading into the summer for Dwayne Haskins, Jr., who is expected to come in as, at a minimum, the third-string quarterback come June.
Pat Cilento, Haskins’ coach from the Bullis School in his native Potomac, Maryland, said that Haskins thrives under this sort of pressure and is ready for the impending competition, citing Haskins’ performance in the 2014 state title game where he orchestrated a 91-yard drive in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to give his team the lead.
Urban Meyer is also aware of Haskins’ competitive nature, following him from his sophomore year on in Maryland as he grew and developed physically into a quarterback who could ultimately fit into Ohio State’s offense. The Buckeyes’ coach admired Haskins’ awareness on the field, his accuracy and his ability to keep plays alive, even commenting that Haskins is "the best quarterback at his age I’ve ever seen." And though Haskins is still very young, Meyer believes that his on-field performance as evidenced in game film shows that he will be able to readily step into the quarterback competition with a chance at the backup spot.
With sophomore quarterback Stephen Collier--the supposed number three behind J.T. Barrett and Joe Burrow--expected to miss the season after undergoing knee surgery last week, Haskins has a clear shot at the depth chart, and will work to overtake the redshirt freshman Burrow for the backup position. Cilento says that, while Haskins may have a steep learning curve in studying the Ohio State offense, Haskins has a competitive advantage as his "IQ in football is off the charts."
"He’s the most recent Big Ten player to win the Heisman, and he’s the only true Big Ten quarterback to ever win the award."
-Josh Moyer, ESPN
As the Big Ten celebrates its 120th anniversary this year (Ohio State has only been a member for 104), ESPN is taking a look at some of the best players ever from more than a century of conference play. While the players include those from all current Big Ten schools, not necessarily players whose schools were in the conference during their time there, the competition at the quarterback position is certainly high:
- Tommie Frazier (Nebraska, 1992-95)
- Drew Brees (Purdue, 1998-2000)
- Chuck Long (Iowa, 1982-85)
- Bob Griese (Purdue, 1964-66)
- Troy Smith (Ohio State, 2004-06)
(Art Schlichter and Rex Kern were both honorable mentions)
While Frazier’s numbers were not as jaw-dropping perhaps as others on the list, the fact that he led Nebraska to back-to-back national championships is. On the flip side, at the No. 2 spot, Drew Brees led pretty much every major statistical category for quarterbacks, though he never won more than nine games in a season at Purdue. Chuck Long was likewise a statistical leader in the four years he started at Iowa and, like Brees, was a Heisman contender for two of them. Bob Griese seemed to balance leading in statistical categories with winning on the field, leading Purdue to its only Rose Bowl victory in 1966.
Finally, at No. 5, Troy Smith is the youngest player on the list as perhaps the most versatile quarterback in recent memory in the conference. Like others on the list, Smith played consistently well throughout his career. He maintained a conference-high completion percentage, and was able to make plays both on the ground and through the air, leading his team to an appearance in the BCS championship game in 2006.
"When you bring in two wide receivers, it makes everybody say ‘OK, all right, there’s a little more competition in this room, which is good. It’s going to help out the team. I’ve heard good things about them so far. Everything I’ve heard about them has been positive."
-Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, via Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle
It has been a tumultuous offseason for the Houston Texans offense. After four quarterbacks took snaps from under center last season, the Texans brought in former Bronco Brock Osweiler to provide some consistency to the position. And with the release of running back Arian Foster, Houston brought in Lamar Miller from Miami. But the Texans also gained two high-profile wide receivers in last month’s NFL Draft in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. Fuller, the No. 21-overall pick in the draft, caught 62 passes for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns last season with Notre Dame. Miller, who was taken in the third round of the draft, still has questions surrounding him as he learns the wide receiver position, but his speed and athleticism have been enough to turn heads on the Texans offense.
Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the centerpiece of the Texans’ passing game, is excited to have the two young receivers playing alongside him, enhancing the downfield threat for the team as a whole. Miller and Fuller were brought in specifically to bring up the overall speed of the offense and take some of the pressure off Hopkins, allowing him to get open downfield. With so many new pieces, general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien are looking to change the look of the offense as a whole. Despite winning the AFC South last season, the Texans had to upgrade to keep up with young-but-talented Jacksonville and Tennessee teams, as well as a Colts squad with a healthy Andrew Luck at the helm.
"The new-look Buckeyes showed off a lot of speed across the board in their spring game. Ohio State may experience growing pains early before turning it on late."
-Mark D. Smith, FOX Sports
Alabama remains at the top of the latest way-too-early preseason top 25 ranking, but the Buckeyes seem to have an improved outlook, coming in at the No. 9 spot behind Tennessee and ahead of Ole Miss. Though there are many new faces on both sides of the ball with nine underclassmen lost to the draft along with several graduated seniors, the return of quarterback J.T. Barrett to the helm at quarterback is enough to give confidence to an otherwise unproven Ohio State offense. With an offensive line anchored by guards Pat Elflein and Billy Price, and skill position players who have skill and experience, even if they did not start, there is hope for a strong offense heading into the fall. And while the defense was likewise hit hard with losses to the NFL, returners like linebacker Raekwon McMillan and cornerback Gareon Conley will help to ease the less seasoned players into the regular season. Others like Sam Hubbard, who saw significant playing time last season, have the opportunity to step up and lead a strong defensive front.
Disappointingly, Michigan remains in the top five behind LSU (No. 4), Clemson (No. 3) and Florida State (No. 2). Other Big Ten teams to make the cut include Michigan State (No. 15) and Iowa (No. 24).
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