Tate Martell knows the situation.
He knows Ohio State’s quarterback room is crowded. With J.T. Barrett back for his fifth season, he knows he’s likely going to have to wait his turn. With Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins in the fold, too, Martell knows there will be plenty of competition once Barrett leaves.
He also doesn’t seem to care.
“I have no issue competing with whoever,” Martell said on National Signing Day. “To make it in the NFL, you have to compete against the best anyway and this is not where I want to stop. I want to play in the NFL.”
“This isn’t going to be the last time I have to compete against the best out there.”
Barring injury, Barrett will be Ohio State’s starter for the 2017 season — “He’s our quarterback,” Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said recently — but there will be an open competition to determine the backup. And when Barrett leaves at the end of the season, there will be a battle to be the next starter between Burrow, Haskins, Martell and verbal commit Emory Jones.
With the way Meyer and Co. are currently recruiting, Ohio State’s quarterback room doesn’t seem like it’s going to be light on talent anytime soon. Martell isn’t thinking about life in the future, though. As one of the Buckeyes’ nine early enrollees, he’s worried about the present.
“I’m not thinking about 12 months, I’m thinking about right now,” he said. “I want to play. I know that I’m just going to go out there and if I don’t play, that’s on me. I know Coach Meyer is going to play the best guy and if I go prove that then that’s not my decision to make or anything."
"I’m thinking about right now. I’m not thinking about 12 months.”
That mindset is precisely what made Martell the quarterback Ohio State wanted in its 2017 class. He's as competitive as they come — Martell never lost a high school game as the starting quarterback — and that's the No. 1 thing Meyer looks for when he recruits the position.
“We are a very evaluation friendly business as a coach and as a quarterback and some people measure it by throwing yards ... some people measure their success,” Meyer said. “However, we measure it very simply, how do you win? And Tate is a winner.”
“The way we evaluate quarterbacks, I understand is a lot different than others, but he’s a winner. That’s where he fits. He’s a winner. He comes from a winning program, a winning sense of — the way he is, personality. You see the way he walks around here, so that’s what he brings to us.”
A four-star prospect from powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Martell was the No. 2-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class. He is listed by Ohio State at 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds, so size is a bit of a concern, but Martell has a bit of a different style than any of the Buckeyes’ other three current quarterbacks. His lack of height hasn’t been an issue throughout his career thus far and Martell said he doesn’t think it will be a problem in college, either.
“I see perfectly fine back there,” he said.
Martell’s path to playing time is certainly challenging, but so too is the path for Burrow and Haskins. Ohio State’s newest quarterback signee makes it that way, and he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“You’ve got to come to compete,” Martell said. “Like I said before if you want to make it to the NFL, you’re not going to be competing against average guys. You’re going to be competing against the best anyway.”