2016 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Youth Will Be Served, Early And Often – QB Preview

“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Ohio State began spring football practice on March 8th. Heading into the 2016 college football season, Ohio State will have 44 players on its roster designated as either a redshirt freshman (21 of the 25 players signed in February 2015), or a true freshman. For a roster that can have only 85 scholarship players, Ohio State will have around 52% of its roster with no playing time experience. As former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup.”.

For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 16th, 2016. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

4th – Quarterback

Players Lost – Cardale Jones. Yes, I know that Braxton Miller made far more plays at the quarterback position in his career at Ohio State than at wide receiver, but I listed Braxton Miller’s loss on the squad as a wide receiver in a previous post. Besides, Miller did play at wide receiver in 2015 for the Buckeyes, not at quarterback.

As for Cardale Jones, the hero of the 2014 run to the national championship gave up his final year of eligibility to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. While Jones struggled at times for Ohio State in 2015, it was reassuring to know that there was a quarterback on the roster who could fill in, with experience, if needed.

Returning Players/Incoming Players – J.T. Barrett (Redshirt Junior), Stephen Collier (Redshirt Sophomore), Joe Burrow (Redshirt Freshman).

A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…

· It was not an oversight that led me to not list Torrance Gibson as a quarterback. While I am speculating that Gibson may get some opportunities in 2016 to play some quarterback in wildcat formations, or in the red zone, Gibson has been listed on the spring football preview as a wide receiver.

· For the first time in his career, J.T. Barrett enters the spring football season as the unquestioned starter at quarterback. Barrett has also already been named a team captain by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer. No more worries about if the offense will allow Cardale Jones or Braxton Miller to be involved as the quarterback – this is J.T. Barrett’s team, as 2016 commences.

· Joe Burrow is the leading favorite to be the backup quarterback. While Burrow was overshadowed by Gibson in the recruiting hoopla of last year, Burrow impressed the coaching staff throughout 2015. While Barrett is the leader of the offense, it is going to be imperative for Ohio State’s success on the field for Burrow to continue to grow as a possible quarterback.

· Stephen Collier may be in a now or never type mode as it relates to his Ohio State career. While Burrow may have the inside track to be the top backup quarterback, Collier needs to do whatever possible to impress the coaching staff. Highly-touted freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins will arrive this summer, and could leapfrog Burrow to become the third-string quarterback.

· My rationale for listing quarterback fourth on the list of concerns? Quite simply, it was only two short years ago that Ohio State’s improbable run to the national championship involved going down to the third-string quarterback that season. J.T. Barrett did have a suspension last season, and Cardale Jones was able to play during Barrett’s suspension – unlike last season, there are no backup quarterbacks with any appreciable game experience. Look for Burrow, and possibly Collier, to get playing time this season, early and often, in the event something happens to Barrett.

These questions, among others, have been on my mind, as Ohio State resumed spring practice on March 22nd.

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