Four practices into Ohio State’s spring football drills and there is no pecking order at quarterback, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said Thursday.
Coach Urban Meyer wasn’t joking about it being an open three-man competition, despite fans and media speculating Dwayne Haskins Jr. to be the heir apparent to four-year starter J.T. Barrett.
When asked Thursday for an early spring pecking order, Day smiled as he offered an answer.
“It’s so early, but the guys are working hard, we’re splitting up the reps,” Day said. “Right now it’s two practices under our belt with pads on. … We’re still installing stuff. … But the guys are working at it, trying to get better.”
>> Video: Ohio State coach Ryan Day on the QB battle
As a reminder, the contestants are:
• Haskins, a sophomore who has the resume-boosting entry of rallying the team to victory at Michigan last year in place of an injured Barrett.
• Junior Joe Burrow, who was the backup quarterback in 2016 and was in the running for it last year before a broken bone suffered in preseason camp.
• Redshirt freshman Tate Martell, who is the shortest of the three but makes up for it with a playmaking ability. “That’s a scary guy moving around,” defensive co-coordinator Alex Grinch said. “He punishes you for good coverage.”
>> Video: Ohio State 3 QB candidates
Grinch said that from his vantage point all three quarterbacks have had stout practices so far: “They certainly can drive the ball down the field. And we have to make sure we have tight coverage because they can find windows and they can throw guys open, which will be a good thing come fall, not so good (for the defense) in the spring.”
It is up to Day to make the hard evaluation and set the order, sooner or later.
“When we evaluate quarterbacks we are looking at guys who are competitors, guys who are tough, guys who leaders, guys who have great football intelligence, and then also guys who are great decision-makers,” Day said. “You can tell we have different shapes and sizes, but it’s our job as coaches to come up with the right plays to emphasize what they do best.”
Day understands the assumption that Haskins would have a leg up in some folks’ minds based on the way he played against Michigan.
“He did a nice job in that game, but now, this is a new year, so these guys have got to come out and compete,” Day said. “Just like anything else: 'What have you done for me lately?’ So he’s got to prove himself to be the starter, just like the other guys.”
Haskins said he knows what he needs to show.
“Just kind of what J.T. showed them, that he owned the offense, owned the team,” while showing he could excel at the basic things such as throwing the ball, Haskins said.
“That’s what I’m working on every day, how can I get this person better, how can I talk to the offensive line and give them something different they haven’t experienced before.”