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Unpopular Opinion: Ohio State needs to stop recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks

It’s time for a change!

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all our “Unpopular Opinion” articles here.

The dual-threat quarterback: isn’t it every college football coach’s dream? One man who is able to pass AND run efficiently? I mean, it gives the offense more options to work with and makes it trickier for defenses to be successful. What’s not to like? For me, there are more cons than pros. Here is my case for why the Buckeyes need to stop recruiting dual-threat QBs.

Let’s reflect on the past couple of Ohio State dual-threat quarterbacks, as the rise of this type of player has happened in the past decade or so. Starting with J.T. Barrett, he was one of the greatest players statistically ever for Ohio State at the position. He could run the ball very well and had great pocket awareness, in addition to a pretty good arm.

However, his ability to throw the ball accurately and deep in a consistent manner was subpar. Barrett’s completion percentage dropped dramatically once he was under pressure. In the 2016 season, he completed 66.9 percent of his passes when he was given a clean pocket, but when facing pressure, his completion percentage dipped to 46.8 percent and threw only three touchdowns to one interception.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl - USC v Ohio State Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

What does all of this mean? Barrett was a talented quarterback who was gifted in multiple areas, but especially his legs. It is crucial for a QB to be able to consistently complete the deep ball and make accurate throws under pressure, but when it comes to being dual-threat, typically (and there are exceptions), you cannot be great at both running and passing.

A better example to examine is Justin Fields. Clearly, Fields was also an all-time great Buckeye QB. He is one of those unusual cases where he can both run and throw the ball exceptionally well. One of the main problems I have with this, though, is his durability. Fields is a decently-sized guy— 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. However, during his two years at Ohio State, we saw him take hit after hit, and the biggest one of all came from James Skalski against Clemson in the CFB Playoff.

Fields’ ribs were severely injured, and he physically couldn’t play at his usual high level after that hit. Even though the Buckeyes won that game, when they played Alabama in the National Championship, they got destroyed and Fields struggled, as he completed 17 of 33 passes for 194 yards and only one touchdown.

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Could that hit happen to a non-dual-threat QB? Absolutely. However, the risk of taking a severe hit increases dramatically the more run options you have for your quarterback. In the pros, we are seeing the exact same thing from Fields. His talent is obvious, yet he has been getting demolished by NFL defenses, as it is extremely hard to find success as a dual-threat player in the pros.

We have seen time and time again how this type of QB simply doesn’t translate well to the NFL. Long-term success is almost impossible! Robert Griffin III suffered many injuries, Tim Tebow didn’t make it, Cam Newton had a few great years before falling off, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb... the list goes on and on. These guys made a name for themselves because of their ability to run, not their tremendous arm.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

However, when you look at the greatest quarterbacks from the past couple of decades such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, it is clear that they are all pocket passers first. Passing is their strongest asset. And they all have won Super Bowls. They are the type of quarterback that succeeds at the pro level.

Now, that isn’t to say that dual-threat quarterbacks don’t succeed at the college level, because clearly, they do. However, when thinking about durability and the necessity of being able to have a strong and accurate arm, I think it is better for teams to have a pro-style QB.

Both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown aren’t regarded as dual-threat quarterbacks, and clearly neither was C.J. Stroud, but now with a new starter under center, I am interested to see the type of offense that is conducted with McCord or Brown at the helm. As for Stroud, I’m curious how he will perform and how long his body can last at the professional level versus Fields. I love me some Justin Fields, but I will take a pro-style QB over a dual-threat one any day of the week.