Although the Ohio State depth chart is pock-marked with question marks this spring, the quarterback position isn't one of them.

Although the Ohio State depth chart is pock-marked with question marks this spring, the quarterback position isn't one of them.

For the first time in his college career, J.T. Barrett is the No. 1 QB, no questions asked.

"You know," said Mickey Marotti, the team's director of performance. "You know he's the quarterback, he's going to be the guy. … There's no question about it."

Barrett isn't taking his starting position for granted, but he also isn't shirking the responsibility that comes along with it. In January, coach Urban Meyer named him, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and center Pat Elflein as captains of the 2016 team to establish the leadership core for a young team.

"It gives the young guys someone to go to, someone who has been there, out on the field and has done the work," said Barrett, a fourth-year junior.

Barrett burst onto the scene for the Buckeyes as a redshirt freshman in 2014, when he was named the starter after Braxton Miller suffered a shoulder injury 12 days before Ohio State's season opener.

The starting quarterback seat was flipped again, though, when Barrett suffered a broken ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan, thrusting Cardale Jones into the role for the postseason. Jones stepped up and led the Buckeyes to the first College Football Playoff national title.

That set up what figured to be a three-way free-for-all for the job last spring, but with Miller still on the mend and not able to practice, and Barrett still recovering from the ankle injury, Jones was the primary QB for most of the practices.

In the summer, Miller stepped aside from the quarterback competition by switching to hybrid back. Then, in fall camp, Barrett was merely OK, opening the door for Jones to be named the starter. But the Buckeyes struggled on offense under Jones and didn't start clicking consistently until Barrett regained the starting job seven games in.

He led the team to a win over Rutgers in his first start of the season, on Oct. 24, but during OSU's off week that followed Barrett was cited for operating a motor vehicle while impaired and was suspended for the next game.

Barrett had returned to the starting lineup by the time Ohio State lost to Michigan State on Nov. 21 to see its national championship hopes dashed. But the Buckeyes rebounded with wins over Michigan and Notre Dame in which Barrett excelled, looking much like the player who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy race in 2014.

Now Jones and Miller are headed for the NFL draft and Barrett heads an Ohio State quarterback room that includes redshirt freshman Joe Burrow and sophomore Stephen Collier. But there's no question about the pecking order as spring drills resume this week.

"It's not really a weight lifted off, but it's something you don't have to worry about," Barrett said of competing for the job. "Now the focus is trying to get better, developing skills, working on my craft. Then personally, as the leader of this team, how can I bring the young guys to the level where I'm at?"

Elflein acknowledged the benefit in the team knowing who its quarterback is.

"Having a guy, especially of his caliber as a leader and great player, in that position on offense, that's vital. That's huge," Elflein said. "His leadership and his knowledge of the game is incredible. When he's out there, guys listen to J.T. If he's calling tempo we're all going, there's no question about it. We follow him."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports