How Will Justin Fields' First Start Compare to Other Legendary Ohio State Quarterbacks?

By David Regimbal on August 19, 2019 at 2:53 pm
Former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins
© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Day officially announced the news on Monday that Justin Fields is Ohio State's starting quarterback.

It wasn't much of a surprise given the state of the Buckeyes' quarterback room.

Gone is Dwayne Haskins, the record-setting signal-caller who shattered every single-season school and conference passing benchmark. So too is Haskins' backup, Tathan Martell, who transferred to Miami after Fields announced his intentions to join Ohio State in January.

That put Matthew Baldwin in line to compete with Fields for the starting job, but he transferred out of Columbus as well to join the TCU program.

That left Chris Chugunov and Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak to fill out Ohio State's depth chart at quarterback.

Day's announcement that Fields would start was the worst-kept secret in college football, but now that it's official, we can look forward to his first showing against FAU.

And before we do that, let's take a look back at some notable first starts for past Ohio State quarterbacks.

Dwayne Haskins vs. Oregon State

This debut will be hard to top.

In his first collegiate start against Oregon State last September, Haskins completed 22-of-30 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns against one interception. He also ran the ball twice for 24 yards to help the Buckeyes secure a 77-31 victory.

Cardale Jones vs. Wisconsin

Cardale Jones had the biggest stage for his first start.

After J.T. Barrett went down against Michigan in 2014, Cardale Jones was forced into action for an Ohio State team looking to win a Big Ten title and get into the first-ever College Football Playoff.

He responded in a big way, throwing for 257 yards and three touchdowns despite completing just 12 passes.

J.T. Barrett vs. Navy

Like Jones, J.T. Barrett was also forced into action before most thought he'd see the field.

Barrett's first performance didn't rewrite the record book or punch Ohio State's ticket to the playoff, but it was a solid showing for a team that had just lost Braxton Miller for the season.

Barrett completed 12-of-15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns while adding 50 yards on the ground.

Braxton Miller vs. Colorado

Miller didn't explode onto the national scene until his sophomore season, when Urban Meyer came to Columbus and overhauled the entire offense.

(Note, we've reached the historical point in YouTube history where every highlight video streams a terrible song.)

As a true freshman, Miller suffered in Jim Bollman's last Buckeye offense. He made his first start in Week 3 against Colorado, completing just five of his 13 passes for 83 yards, but two of those attempts resulted in touchdowns.

Like most of his career, much of his damage was done on the ground, where he piled up 83 yards on 17 carries.

Terrelle Pryor vs. Troy

Terrelle Pryor got the nod over national title participant Todd Boeckman in 2008 after Ohio State got walloped by USC. 

Pryor led an uninspired offense by throwing four touchdown passes, but he finished the game with just 139 passing yards and 10 completions. He added 66 rushing yards, but Ohio State was outplayed for large portions of the game and led just 14-10 entering the fourth quarter.

Troy Smith vs. Indiana

The early part of Troy Smith's collegiate career had its ups and downs, but midway through the 2004 season, he was inserted as the starter to give an offense that struggled with Justin Zwick behind center a much needed boost.

He completed just half of his 24 passes against Indiana for 161 yards, but he threw two touchdowns and didn't turn the ball over. He also ran the ball 11 times for 58 yards.

What will Fields' first start look like? Will he blow up like Haskins or Jones, or have a more moderate launching performance like Barrett, Miller, Pryor and Smith?

We're less than two weeks from getting that answer, but Ohio State head coach Ryan Day just wants Fields to play his game.

"You can't go out and try to be what Dwayne was in game one," Day said of Fields Monday "You can't go out and try to be what J.T. Barrett or Braxton Miller was. You got to be yourself."

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