Urban Meyer said he knows J.T. Barrett’s future beyond the quarterback’s playing career.

“I joke around about it, but he is certainly going to be a coach,” the Ohio State coach said Thursday on his radio call-in show on 97.1 The Fan. “He doesn’t really have an option. I tell him, ‘Go play as long as you can and then you don’t have to look for work. We’ll find you.’”

Meyer rattled through the impressive list of quarterbacks he has had in his coaching career. They include the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Smith and Tim Tebow as well as former Buckeyes Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones. They had quite different physiques and skill sets. But Meyer said there was a link among them.

“They’re leaders,” Meyer said. “Tough as nails and they raised the level of the guys they were around. It’s the most unique position in all of sport, and J.T. is right there.”

Saturday’s game against Penn State will help define Barrett’s college career. If the Buckeyes win and Barrett is impressive, he’ll be a bona fide Heisman Trophy contender.

Barrett’s counterpart for the Nittany Lions, Trace McSorley, also drew praise from Meyer as a winner despite not fitting the prototype.

“The young man we’re playing is just like that,” Meyer said. “‘He’s too short, he’s too this.’ No. He’s going to find a way to get a first down, and that’s what makes this game so intriguing, these two quarterbacks.”

Challenge for DBs
Since the inauspicious start against Indiana and Oklahoma that left Ohio State’s pass defense ranked last nationally, the Buckeyes have shored up that part of their game.

Ohio State now ranks 37th in pass defense. Some of that is clear improvement from players like safety Jordan Fuller. Denzel Ward is developing into a shutdown cornerback.

But none of the last five opponents has been good enough to provide a meaningful gauge for just how much the Buckeyes have improved. With tight end Mike Gesicki and receiver DaeSean Hamilton, among others, Penn State can make the Buckeyes pay if they’re not on the top of their game.

The biggest area of concern might be the cornerback spot opposite Ward. Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield have had their issues, and the Buckeyes are working freshman Jeffrey Okudah into the mix.

Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is confident that they’ll be up to the task.

“I feel good,” he said. “I speak for (cornerbacks coach) Kerry (Coombs). We talk all the time. We believe in those guys. They’re getting better. Are they good enough to handle this outfit? We’ll find that out on Saturday.”