Spring Storylines: Searching for the Next No. 2

By Kyle Rowland on February 28, 2014 at 9:15a

Offseason shoulder surgery will make Braxton Miller more of a spectator than participant during Ohio State’s upcoming spring drills. But it won’t take eyes away from the quarterback position. While intrigue surrounds Miller’s health and throwing shoulder, it’s the competition for the backup job that’s certain to attract eyeballs.

For the Buckeyes, it will serve as a sneak peek to what life without Miller will be like. In 10 months, that will become a reality. Three scholarship quarterbacks will vie to be No. 2, with redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett expected to take a majority of the reps. True freshman Stephen Collier's time will arrive in the future when experience, coaching and intangibles take hold. 

Neither Jones nor Barrett lacks confidence, a hallmark of any elite quarterback. 

“The young guys redshirting last year, they have big shoes to fill,” Miller said. “They’re going to be outstanding when they first step out at spring practice.”

On Day 1, Jones will be the first man behind Miller. There’s an asterisk next to that status, though, according to offensive coordinator Tom Herman. Jones earned that position by experience – and it’s subject to change. It’s all about proof. Herman and head coach Urban Meyer want someone appropriately suited to take the reins if needed. 

With Miller behind center, a competent backup is a necessity. He’s missed game action in all three seasons at Ohio State and hasn’t gone through an entire season without a hiccup since his sophomore year at Huber Heights Wayne.

The Buckeyes doubled as California miners the past two years, striking gold with Kenny Guiton. Can they duplicate that success with Jones or Barrett? Guiton leaves Ohio State with multiple school records, and his turnaround began under the tutelage of Meyer and Herman.

But it didn’t come without growing pains, which is not dissimilar from Jones’ situation. He became infamous during his redshirt freshman season for an ill-advised tweet lamenting the usefulness of class.  

“Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS,” he wrote.

It earned Jones a one-game suspension, along with scorn and embarrassment. The tweet actually found its way into an Ole Miss textbook as an example of poor social media practices. But Jones went through a maturation process and moseyed out of the doghouse.

“He’s a lot smarter than you think,” Herman said. “He’s kind of the class clown, but I think he’s grown up a lot and continues to grow up. All the things we’ve seen in the offseason and off the field now have to start translating onto the field.”

At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Jones might seem oversized, but he possesses a big-time arm and the elusiveness Buckeye coaches want in a quarterback. Missing from his gamut of skills is consistency, not that game appearances yield much in the way of evaluating. He was 1 for 2 passing and had 17 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Practice is when coaches gage Jones’ level of play.

“He’s a good player,” Herman said. “A lot more decisive than maybe some people think. He’s got a ton of physical talent.”

Behind Jones is the signal-caller many believe will ultimately succeed Miller. Barrett was handpicked by Herman as his first quarterback signed at Ohio State. But that was prior to an ACL injury during Barrett’s senior year of high school. You won’t sense any reluctance in Herman’s voice, though. He believes modern medicine allowed Barrett to return as the same player.

Who that player is is a 6-foot-1, 222-pound accurate thrower with athleticism and leadership qualities that could make coaches envious over the next four years. Barrett was a record-setting machine in Texas, completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,605 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushing for 1,521 yards and nine scores as a junior.

That’s the Barrett Herman couldn’t live without. And the player Ohio State hopes it gets.

“J.T. has a ton of intangibles,” Herman said. “He’s reworked his body since he got here. He came in kind of pudgy and basically spent a whole year reworking his body. He’s shown a lot of leadership on the scout team [in 2013], so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do when thrown into the fray with live bullets.”

It became common for Meyer and Herman to shower Guiton with praise, and it could be playing out again with Barrett. They’ve been quick to credit parents, high school coaches and others for high character. 

“You want to talk about intangibles and just being able to feel when guys have that ‘it’ factor, he’s got that,” Herman said. “He has a quick release, he’s pretty accurate, and those things are what drew us toward him. Now he’s done lying in the weeds. Now he has to get out of the weeds and attack this thing.”

Confidence won’t be lacking.

The Jones-Barrett Duel will give Buckeye Nation a glimpse into the future and highlight the potential that could become authentic in a matter of months.

Said Barrett: “Every day, you’re just trying to be a better quarterback.”


Comments Show All Comments

Nutinpa's picture

6-5 and 250 might be "over=sized for a QB". But I seem to recall those measurements for Cam Newton....and he did OK.  Considering the beating modern QBs take in the spread offenses, a smurf need not apply.  It will be an interesting battle to watch...making the Spring Game actually worth paying attention to....as it will be another Urban Meyer orchestrated, pass-happy game I would expect.  RBs who are vying to PT and maybe even deciding on whether to stay, may be disappointed by the so-called game plan.  We shall see.

+4 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

Whoever wins the battle for #2 will almost certainly need to be ready for action.   Much as I hope for Miller's sake that he can have a very healthy, very successful, COMPLETE senior year at QB, history is not on his side.   Years 1-3 have all featured time missed with injury,   With a re-worked, less experienced offensive line, I would say there's a bigger edge for Jones than just his previous experience, given his size.   To me, other things being fairly equal, having a QB that's big and tough to take down is a big plus.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+5 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

How many years will Jones have left after this year?  Is he a redshirt junior or sophomore?

-1 HS
BTwrestle04's picture

Read the second paragraph.

+4 HS
zacisone's picture

I think from what I have seen so far, Jones is a little ahead of Barrett at this point. I know both love tOSU. The competition should be great this spring. Go Bucks!


+1 HS
whobdis's picture

Just from watching film..I really like JT. He's much more Troy Smith than TP or Braxton. And really..a good part of Troy's success is due to the receivers he had to work with. I think JT will be in the same boat as the incoming two classes of wideout/h-back will give him the tools to be successful. It's all conjecture at this point but will be fun to watch

+1 HS
sb97's picture

Right now, I am thrilled with the potential at every position on our football team.  Even in problem areas like OL, Linebacker, and Safety we have a number of good candidates.

Nappy's picture

I'm happy to finally have a starter next year with a couple years experience in the system.  After having TP and Braxton both starting the majority of their freshmen seasons, and both struggled at times, it'll be nice to have a guy with experience starting next year.  And taking most of the snaps this spring will help both Barrett and Jones.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I think it could be more accurately stated that OSU struck gold with the hiring of Tom Herman. KG had been around 3 years before Meyer came to town and was not develeped as a QB, it goes to show how good Herman has been developing two QBs. I am pretty confident in Herman having a good back up ready to go and developing the others along the way.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
okiebuck's picture

I've said it before and still believe it; JT is the real deal. I saw him during a seven on seven game the summer he was heading into his senior year and he has ALL the throws; nice deep ball, short passes with touch and a bullet when needed. Personally, I think he ALREADY is a better passer the Braxton. I cannot speak to Jones as I have never seen him play; but obviously he has size and maybe a little something else. Should be fun to watch this unfold.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

BoFuquel's picture

Jones, Barrett and Collier red shirts, dat's dat. My prognosis has still not changed. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

-1 HS
Nick's picture

Only Collier is eligible to redshirt which is pretty much a given already.

CALPOPPY's picture

Searching for the next No. 2?

Take some laxatives.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

+2 HS
villagebuckeye's picture

This is still an Urban Meyer offense and the read option is a major part of it. The qb must be a threat to run.  I feel JT's quickness and hs experience with the read option give him the edge.

Nick's picture

Jones can run too. Read the 17 carries for 125 yards? I don't think he'll ever have the 30 and 40 yard runs, but he is the body type that can run over a few players and get you 10-15 yards.

nburns18's picture

I've actually had the privilege of talking to Cardale on a number of occasions and he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. I think the whole stupid tweet business is over for him. He played well last year when he got in. I remember him ripping off a couple of nice runs. So i think he will be the backup once the season starts. But Barrett is right on his tail thats for sure. Anything can happen

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

More football stories!!!  It takes the pain away from the basketball ones!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

+1 HS
nm_buck's picture

If Cardale can handle the playbook... he will be an absolute BEAST on the field.  

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

BrewstersMillions's picture

Cardale looks like a linebacker playing catch with a QB in that picture....


CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

It's going to be a lot of fun watching to see how the #2 battle shakes out.  Both QBs are good with a lot of upside.  I hope one emerges as the leader that will eventually takes the reins next year.

Go Bucks

bucknut3's picture

Wow...What a year.

...And M*ch*g*n still sucks.