True Freshman Quarterback Matthew Baldwin Making Early Impression On Urban Meyer, Ohio State Receivers

By Dan Hope on July 30, 2018 at 8:35 am
Matthew Baldwin

Even though he has only been at Ohio State since January and had knee surgery shortly after he arrived on campus, Matthew Baldwin has already made a big impression on his new head coach and teammates.

An under-the-radar recruit who was committed to Colorado State when he got an offer from Ohio State less than two months before the early signing period in December, Baldwin appeared to be a consolation prize for the Buckeyes, who had a commitment from a more highly touted quarterback recruit in the class of 2018 – Emory Jones – for more than a year before he ultimately signed with Florida.

With more highly touted quarterbacks in the recruiting classes ahead of Baldwin (Dwayne Haskins, Tate Martell) and after him (Dwan Mathis, Jack Miller), it’s easy to assume Baldwin might not be among the frontrunners to start for Ohio State in the future.

Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell, however, has now had the chance to work with and catch passes from Baldwin, and he says people shouldn’t be sleeping on the newest Ohio State quarterback’s talent.

"First of all, he can absolutely sling it," Campbell said of Baldwin at last week’s Big Ten Media Days. "I don’t know if a lot of people know that or not, but I was actually just throwing routes with him last week, and he’s going to be elite. He’s not a ‘Plan B’ at all."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says Campbell isn’t the only wide receiver who already holds a high opinion of Baldwin, and Meyer is also impressed with what he’s seen from Baldwin in his first seven months on campus, saying that the true freshman has already added about 20 pounds to his frame.

"He’s doing great," Meyer said of Baldwin. "He’s up to 210 pounds. Receivers love him."

One reason why Baldwin wasn’t a widely heralded recruit coming out of Lake Travis High School – the same Austin, Texas, high school that produced Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in this past April’s NFL draft, among eight consecutive quarterbacks who have gone on to play Division I football – was that he was the backup quarterback, stuck behind current Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer on the Cavaliers’ depth chart, until his senior year.

In his one season as the starting quarterback for the Cavaliers, however, Baldwin threw for 3,842 yards and 44 touchdowns with six interceptions, all the while leading Lake Travis to the state championship game in Texas’ top division of high school football before suffering a knee injury in his team’s season-ending loss.

That was enough to convince Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day that they should recruit Baldwin to Ohio State, and their excitement about the four-star prospect – who also received late offers from Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota and North Carolina – has only grown since.

"What he did at Texas, at Lake Travis, was phenomenal," Meyer said. "I’m very excited about him."

“He can absolutely sling it.”– Parris Campbell on Matthew Baldwin

If all goes according to plan, Baldwin won’t take a meaningful snap this season. While the Buckeyes are likely to take advantage of the new redshirt rule and put Baldwin in at the end of a few lopsided contests to get him some early game experience, they won’t play the true freshman quarterback with a game on the line unless they have to.

That said, Baldwin is in line to be Ohio State’s third-string quarterback this season following Joe Burrow’s decision to transfer to LSU. And with the possibility that No. 2 quarterback Tate Martell could see more playing time this season than a typical backup quarterback, the Buckeyes need Baldwin to be ready to play in case of emergency.

Even though he only started for one year at Lake Travis, Baldwin’s ability to throw the football could already be seen in his film from high school. What Campbell said he has also seen from Baldwin since his arrival at Ohio State, though, is his potential to be a future team leader.

"He doesn’t talk a lot, but you see just in the way he carries himself, you can tell he looks like he’s a natural leader," Campbell said of Baldwin. "Looks like a natural winner, and then obviously, he has the talent and the way he throws the ball is incredible."

Campbell added that Baldwin "puts his head down and he grinds," which is what Baldwin said he planned to do this year while meeting with the media on National Signing Day.

"You’ve just got to kind of put your head down and work hard," Baldwin said. "You want to be a leader of the team early, but I haven’t played. All of us young guys haven’t really proved our worth here yet and contributed. So it’s hard to really take a huge leading position, but you’ve just got to put your head down and start making a reputation for yourself as someone who’s going to contribute to the team."

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