Coach Urban Meyer joked Tuesday about not remembering the name of the Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback who threw 104 touchdown passes and rushed for 43 more scores the last four seasons.
That would be J.T. Barrett — and no one will remember the name more fondly than Meyer.
“I love that guy. Always will,” Meyer said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. “What he did for our team inside (the locker room), not many people were aware of. I’ll forever be indebted to J.T. Barrett. That’s how good a person and leader he was.”
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In his seventh season with the Buckeyes, Meyer enters a new phase of his career in 2018 as he turns the offense over to redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who led Ohio State to a comeback victory at Michigan in the 2017 regular-season finale when Barrett left the game with an injury.
As good as Haskins was late in that game, it’s the only meaningful playing time he has received in his college career. That doesn’t mean the expectations will lower for Haskins, who replaces a player who broke almost every passing record in Ohio State history and many Big Ten records as well.
“The position will never change,” Meyer said. “The expectation is to be the best quarterback in the Big Ten, which is very hard because we have some excellent quarterbacks.”
Haskins beat out Joe Burrow and Tate Martell for the job in the spring. Burrow transferred to LSU for his final two seasons. Martell will start preseason practices Aug. 3 as the backup to Haskins.
Freshman Matthew Baldwin is the third-string quarterback, Meyer said. Baldwin suffered a knee injury in the last game of his high school career and has rehabilitated at Ohio State since enrolling in the university in January.
“He’s up to 209 pounds right now,” Meyer said. “He’s gained 20-some pounds. He had a tough injury, but I watched him work, watched him throw. I wish we had one more (quarterback), because you like to have four.”
While Meyer reiterated how talented Haskins is, he left open the possibility of Martell pushing Haskins for playing time.
“A lot happens in 30 days,” Meyer said.
Meyer also praised the job Haskins has done as a leader this summer.
“The big word is respect and earned trust,” Meyer said. “It’s the job of a leader. Earn trust. With all due respect to other sports, this is the most unique position in all of sport. You have to understand the entire defense, have to understand all other ten players, what they’re doing on offense. He has to make decisions in split seconds. And, by the way, he’s got people like (Nick) Bosa trying to tear his throat out. It’s very unique position, but he’s done very well. And Tate has done very well, too.”