Although Matthew Baldwin is still less than two months away from suffering a knee injury in the final game of his high school career, the Ohio State early enrollee quarterback doesn’t plan to let that keep him from competing this spring.
Baldwin, who injured his knee while playing in the Texas state semifinals and aggravated that injury in the state championship game while playing for Lake Travis High School this past December, has continued to rehabilitate that injured knee since arrived at Ohio State in January. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes’ newest signal-caller expects to be on the field and throwing when Ohio State begins spring practices on March 6.
"I’m just working to get it back to 100 percent," Baldwin said of his recovery. "I anticipate being able to play spring football. Just working hard every day.
"I’ll be on the field," Baldwin added. "I don’t know about full-go live stuff. But I’ll throw."
While Baldwin did not want to go into specifics about his injury or recovery process while meeting with the media last Wednesday on National Signing Day, Baldwin’s mother previously told Eleven Warriors’ Andrew Lind that Baldwin sprained his meniscus. Baldwin feels confident that he’ll be ready to return to the field in short order, though, because he saw how former Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett – who, like Baldwin, also came to Columbus from Texas (Wichita Falls) – was able to return in just six days to play in last year’s Big Ten Championship Game after having arthroscopic knee surgery for a meniscus injury of his own.
"They do a great job of getting the guys ready to go," Baldwin said of Ohio State’s medical and athletic training staff, "so I’m not worried about it at all. They're going to work with me and I’m working hard to get it back healed."
With Barrett’s career at Ohio State now complete and the quarterback position open for competition entering the spring, Baldwin has no shortage of incentive to get on the field with the Buckeyes and show what he can do as quickly as he can. He says he is looking forward to the opportunity to compete with Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell next month.
"It’s super exciting," Baldwin said. "It’s wide open, but at the same time, the quarterback room is full of talent. So it’s a room that’s going to make me better, I’m going to try and make them better, and there’s a lot of development that’s going to go on."
Realistically, it’s unlikely that Baldwin will move ahead of any of the older quarterbacks on the depth chart in his first year on campus. It’s more likely that Baldwin will take a redshirt in 2018, much like Martell did last year, Haskins did two years ago and Burrow did the year before that. But Baldwin, who describes himself as a "fierce competitor," still wants to take every opportunity he can to show his coaches and teammates what he is capable of.
"I knew coming in I was going to have to compete and that’s what’s going to happen," Baldwin said. "But that’s what it’s about here. It’s not a bad thing, it’s welcomed. If you don’t want to compete, you shouldn’t come to Ohio State, because they bring in a load of studs every year. So I’m looking forward to that in spring. Just being around all the guys, that will be a good bonding experience, getting to know the team more and competing against them too."
Baldwin, who was originally committed to Colorado State before receiving his offer from Ohio State in November, probably would have had a better shot at playing earlier if he had gone to play in Fort Collins or elsewhere. But Baldwin, who already knows what it’s like to have to wait his turn – he didn’t start until his senior year at Lake Travis because Charlie Brewer, who now plays at Baylor, was the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback before him – decided the opportunity to be a Buckeye was too good to pass up.
"I committed to Colorado State over the summer and I loved the coaches there. All respect to Coach (Mike) Bobo. But when Ohio State came in, I was obviously interested because this is one of the top teams in the country and also a great school too, and that was something I was looking for big time," Baldwin said. "There’s a long list of boxes to check off when you’re choosing a school … and I just went down the list and Ohio State checked off all the boxes. So this was the best place."
“If you don’t want to compete, you shouldn’t come to Ohio State, because they bring in a load of studs every year. So I’m looking forward to that.”– Matthew Baldwin
Baldwin wasn’t the Buckeyes’ first choice to be their quarterback for the recruiting class of 2018, but when Emory Jones (who ultimately signed with Florida) wavered in his commitment to the Buckeyes late in the process, Ohio State ultimately locked in on Baldwin as his replacement in the class.
Baldwin wasn’t as highly touted a recruit as Martell or some of the other quarterbacks Ohio State has recruited, and as such, it’s no sure thing that he’ll ever emerge as a starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. But Baldwin is motivated to prove that Ohio State made the right choice in signing him, and he wants to help the Buckeyes maintain their standing as one of college football’s best teams in whatever ways he can.
"Your first couple of years here, you need to put your head down and work hard and not be speaking out too much. You want to be a leader, but at the same time, you haven’t really contributed much on the field," Baldwin said. "But the thing that I’ve I learned from (the other quarterbacks) is that there’s no place to hide here at Ohio State. Everyone in the state of Ohio cares about Ohio State football. So you need to be acting like you’re representing Ohio State everywhere you go at all times."