Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the nation's most underrated signal callers when Austin, Texas, Lake Travis three-star quarterback Matthew Baldwin pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Thursday evening.
Let's take a look at what Baldwin — the 17th-best pro-style quarterback and No. 465 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Baldwin has a strong arm with a quick release, but is a little less mobile than quarterbacks Ohio State has recruited in recent years.
“He throws the football as well as anybody in the country. Big, strong kid. He's had a phenomenal year in his first year as a starter,” Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter told Eleven Warriors. “He is a well-developed passer who can run the football. He's not going to run Quarterback Power 20 times a game. He's not a running back at quarterback. We call a lot of run plays for him, but he's also a Division I athlete. He's a pretty good option for us whether he's throwing or running the football."
Baldwin has thrown for 3,397 yards and 41 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions and rushed for 395 yards and eight scores this season to help Lake Travis to the state quarterfinals this season. The Cavaliers play O'Connor at the Alamodome in San Antonio this Friday night with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
Last year, Baldwin threw for 673 yards and 10 touchdowns in limited duty as a backup as Lake Travis won the 6A state title.
In a day and age when scouts and recruiting analysts like to compare players to their pro or college counterparts, Baldwin reminds his coach of Atlanta Falcons quarterback and recent NFL Most Valuable Player Matt Ryan on the field and as a leader.
“[Baldwin] has a similar stature, and kind of reminds me of the way [Ryan] is built,” Carter said. “His game kind of reminds me of Matt Ryan's, because [Atlanta] uses him in a lot of bootlegs. Our offensive coordinator, Mike Wall, uses Matt a lot on the run and he throws the ball great on the run.”
IN THE CLASS
Baldwin becomes the 19th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, joining four-star Emory Jones at the quarterback position.
He's obviously very aware of the quarterback quandary in Columbus, but previously indicated his decision wouldn't be determined by the uncertainty surrounding Jones' pledge — so that could very well mean the Buckeyes bring on two quarterbacks this cycle.
“[It's] possible,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said last month when asked about taking two quarterbacks in 2018. “[Director of player personnel] Mark [Pantoni] keeps wanting to talk to me about it — and I said, 'Give me some time.' But we don't have much time. The other thing you're going to see is the guy you keep on the back burner and try to flip him at the end, he signs on Dec. 20, and you don't have those guys either. It's going to be an interesting year.”
As for Jones, it's widely anticipated he'll either reaffirm his 18-month commitment to Ohio State or flip his pledge to Alabama by the end of the weekend. If he does choose to play his college ball in Tuscaloosa, it looks as if the Buckeyes will be more than happy with just Baldwin.
Lake Travis is a college quarterback factory, having produced Kansas' Todd Reesing, SMU's Garrett Gilbert,Virginia Tech's Michael Brewer, SMU's Collin Lagasse, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Iowa State's Dominic DeLira and Baylor's Charlie Brewer in the last decade. The Cavaliers have won six state titles in that span, but it's also forced some extremely talented quarterbacks to sit and wait their turn.
“We've been very fotunate to have a lot of talented quarterbacks here,” Carter said. “It's a testiment to his family and his character that the trusted the process. If things go the way we think they're going to go, you're going to be the starter for one year. We also told him if he played the way we thought he was going to play, he was going to have an opportunity to play at the next level. He's proved us right."