Tired of constant questions regarding Ohio State’s ongoing quarterback battle, coach Urban Meyer revealed he’s already picked a starter — and it’s not quite what people expected.
During an impromptu Sunday press conference, Meyer announced that redshirt-senior Braxton Miller, redshirt-junior Cardale Jones and redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett will all start for the Buckeyes in 2015. In fact, not only will the trio of returning starters all be in the opening lineup, but Meyer said all six scholarship quarterbacks at OSU have earned starting spots — even though two of them have yet to arrive on campus.
“At Ohio State, it doesn’t matter, the best player plays,” Meyer said Sunday. “If our five best players are kickers, then five kickers play. If our best 11 on defense are all linebackers, then we’ll play 11 linebackers. It just so happens that our six quarterbacks are the best six players, so we had to find a way to get them all on the field.
“Those six have earned the right to be called starters at the Ohio State University.”
Meyer explained that Miller — a two-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year — will line up at slot receiver, Barrett — the reigning conference Quarterback of the Year — will play tailback and Jones will use his 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound frame to play tight end.
Incoming freshman Torrance Gibson and redshirt-freshman Stephen Collier will be OSU’s outside receivers, Meyer said, and perhaps most shockingly of all, freshman Joe Burrow will be the only one actually taking snaps from senior center Jacoby Boren.
Jones, who led the Buckeyes to wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon en route to Big Ten and national titles in his first three starts, was visibly confused as he stood alongside Meyer during the press conference.
“I finally figured out that I came here to play school, but I’m still pretty sure I didn’t come here to play tight end,” Jones was heard muttering as he left the room. “At least I’m still allowed to tweet.”
Burrow, who has yet to take a college snap, is reportedly practicing passes to himself, much like he perfected in his high school playing days.
“I am just so excited to throw passes to all of our quarterbacks, but even more excited to throw to myself,” Burrow said at the press conference. “I can’t thank coach Meyer enough for this opportunity.”
Meyer, who is confident in Burrow’s abilities to lead the offense, reiterated his usual mantra to the press.
“A quarterback is a product of those around him, and in this case they are the products for themselves,” Meyer said. “Zeke was great for us last year, but no one can open up the offense like our quarterbacks.”
Barrett, who won 11 games last season, is coming off of an ankle surgery and said he is excited about his new role in the offense.
“Did you see my run against Minnesota last year? I ran through all over those Gopher holes,” Barrett said. “I loved playing with Zekiel. But I am the better option.”
The Buckeyes will have more than enough options next season, which Meyer said he intends to take full advantage of.
“With six guys who can throw, you can really open up the playbook,” Meyer said. “I can’t give you an example, but I can tell you that there is a play where all six guys will touch the ball and Dolo Dale will end up throwing the ball further than Uncle Rico when he threw the ball over them mountains.”
Collier, who saw extended action in the 2015 Spring Game said, was thrilled with the announcement.
“I’m just happy to be here,” he said.
As per usual, Miller declined to speak to the press.
Burrow, an Athens, Ohio, native, was the only person at the press conference who didn’t look like he’d recently been hit by a bus. While he was rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN, he was widely expected to be the fifth or sixth option under center this season.
“I know nobody expected it, but I always knew coach Meyer would give me a chance,” Burrow said. “Cordale, Brandon and J.R. are all great players, but none of them can throw touchdown passes to themselves.”
The sextet is set to start for the Buckeyes when they open the 2015 season against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va.