What an interesting problem that Urban Meyer will face during the upcoming months in Columbus. This poor guy just won the national championship, and now he has three of arguably the best quarterbacks in the nation at his disposal to chose who will call the shots.
Not that it matters who plays quarterback for the Buckeyes come the fall, because as we’ve seen: they make it look easy. Maybe that has something to do with junior tailback Ezekiel Elliott who is probably still running because no one could tackle him Monday night when he scampered for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns against Oregon.
So, a brief look at the options:
Braxton Miller: This has been the Miller show ever since Joe Bauserman ate the bones back in 2011. He helped stop the bleeding that year, eventually led Ohio State to an undefeated campaign in the following season – they weren’t bowl eligible – and has been blazing record books, awards and stat sheets since. He holds a 28-8 record overall, keeping in mind a number of those losses came in 2011 when he was just thrown into the action. Despite missing three games with injury, he still finished top 10 in the final Heisman voting, which accompanied his fifth place finish in 2012. He’s 11 wins, a few thousand yards and a few touchdowns from basically every record that a Buckeye thrower could reach. He has already amassed over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. Miller was the original starter going into the season before injury, before giving way to J.T. Barrett.
Miller is the most likely to transfer, as he is on track to graduate. Rumors of Oregon, Florida State…… well, anywhere he wants, have surfaced. Oh, and he is also eligible for the NFL Draft if that situation came about. But, if Miller was once the best of the three, it stands to reason he still is. Maybe. Kind of.
J.T. Barrett: After redshirting in 2013, Barrett was the expected backup to Miller. However, after he took the reigns of the offense, it became clear that Barrett wasn’t your run-of-the-mill backup; the dude could ball. 21 touchdowns and a few thousand yards later, Barrett found himself popping up on Heisman watch lists left and right. Sadly, Barrett went down late in the Buckeyes’ matchup with Michigan. He still finished 5th in the Heisman voting. Buckeye faithful were drinking heavily from the Barrett kool-aid fountain. He was the early favorite to start the 2015 season before the 2014 season ended.
Then, Cardale Jones entered the Michigan game and… uh… performed well the rest of the season (we’ll get back to that). Barrett was on the sidelines for the championship game, with reason, he quarterbacked a pretty successful season. However, he didn’t look thrilled when he got some on-camera FaceTime. So much so that some Texas fans are getting a bit overly giddy about this picture that made its rounds along the internet (Barrett is a Texas native):
Cardale “12 Gage” Jones:
The guy is 6’5″ 250 lbs. and can move. Oh, and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. Cardale only finished the 2014 season with 860 yards with seven touchdowns; he won three games . . . they just happen to be against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. Can you really bench a guy who led your school to the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship? Not to mention a rout in the Big 10 title game. I mean, he’s the only quarterback who has taken snaps in the past few season who is yet to receive any Heisman votes – so, there’s that?
An interesting twist is that Jones too is eligible for the NFL Draft. He claims that he “is not ready for that level” yet. That said, people often get ready in a hurry for the pay check – especially a guy who tweeted about how “pointless” class was. He has a lot of charisma, and he’s fun to watch. It’s like a mix of Jared Lorenzen and Troy Smith.
He’s a freshman, but hell: everyone else on the roster is getting Heisman votes and National Championship rings. Sure my man Stephen from Leesburg, Ga. could handle it. Eh, probably not for now. Okay, so Stephen is out. I think.
What’s the bottom line?
Something that should be of note is that Urban Meyer does not want to get caught with his pants down here. Not in a Bobby Petrino way, I’m metaphorically speaking. Right now, Barrett, Jones or Miller would be an early Heisman favorite, depending on who wins the job. However, Miller and Jones could easily go pro, Barrett transfer if he declares early. Not to mention, Miller and Barrett are both coming off injuries. There is a number of combinations that could turn this three-headed monster into a whole new bag of questions very quickly.
On that same note, what a shame – for the student-athlete’s sake – if all three come back. Well, shame may not be the best way of phrasing it, but you get the point: that’s a lot of talent that can only be spread over so many snaps. All three could leave; all three could stay – what fun!
My guess? Screw that. How about Bovada’s guess? They list the odds for opening day starter as: Jones at 11/10, trailed by Miller at 5/4 and Barrett at 7/2.
Miller Jones Barrett makes the most sense, theoretically. He’s the only one not eligible for the NFL draft, he was good and getting better with every passing week, as was noted by his Heisman rise. However, Miller is the eldest. BUT CARDALE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP…. ugh. The irony is it’s unlikely that any of these QB’s will be a Buckeye for more than one more season. Miller would graduate, Jones would be a redshirt junior next season, but if he has a season anything similar to his late run this year, he could likely bounce to the NFL if he does not already this season. Barrett is kind of in the same boa…… I’m done.
My prediction: Jones and Barrett stay and both get used in the offense in some way, similar to a Leak/Tebow combination. Miller moves on to another contender – which could lead to a really interesting playoff matchup, but that could be jumping the gun a little bit.
*Section Photo credit to Justin K. Aller, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports.