Despite seemingly endless speculation of a transfer and the feeling that he's already been counted out by fans and media, Joe Burrow is still in Columbus and is still fighting to become Ohio State's next starting quarterback.
Burrow battled Dwayne Haskins for the backup quarterback spot last season and lost the battle by default after breaking his hand in practice. As a result, it was Haskins who was No. 2 on the depth chart every game, it was Haskins who got the first garbage time minutes, and it was Haskins who went in for an injured J.T. Barrett and led the team to a comeback victory over Michigan.
It seemed like Haskins was set to become the team's next starting quarterback and Burrow would be on his way out, as a graduate transfer. After Ohio State's 24-7 Cotton Bowl win over USC, Burrow even admitted to strongly considering a transfer.
"I get all these tweets, 'Where are you going? Are you going to transfer? You never play.' I see them. I don't say anything, but I see them."– Joe Burrow
But nearly three months later, Burrow is still a Buckeye for one simple reason: he believes he's the best quarterback on the roster and feels he's being given a fair shot to prove it.
"Well, I was convinced that it was going to be an open competition," Burrow said. "And that's why I wanted to stay and give it my best shot."
All three quarterbacks as well as head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day echo Burrow's belief that it's truly an open competition. And the battle is as close as can be, with little to no separation between Haskins and Burrow, according to Urban Meyer on Monday.
Burrow is still battling. And despite the speculation from fans and media, he still has a legitimate shot to be Ohio State's next starting quarterback. The fact that he's been written off by so many frustrates him.
"I get all these tweets, 'Where are you going? Are you going to transfer? You never play,'" Burrow said. "I see them. I don't say anything, but I see them."
This spring is his chance to prove the critics and doubters wrong. Burrow is healthy, confident and locked into this quarterback battle, even if the possibility of a transfer might still exist. He's not out shopping for potential landing spots, talking things through with his family or really even considering what might happen in a few weeks if he's not named the starter.
For now though, he's just battling.
"Joe’s going to fight like heck to win this thing," Day said. "If he’s the best quarterback, he’s the best quarterback."
Burrow wants to give it his all and leave no regrets, and he is confident about his chances this spring.
"I think I'm the best, obviously," Burrow said. "I'm just trying to go out every day and prove that to people, prove that to you guys, prove that to fans and prove it to the coaches."