Ohio State cannot have two signal-callers on the field at the same time, but it might have two quarterbacks.
Head coach Urban Meyer said Monday that while the suggestion a quarterback play receiver is thrown out often with no real logic behind it, the plan might work in redshirt freshman Tate Martell’s case.
“Tate’s got an incredible skillset,” Meyer said. “There is some conversation about that because he is a gifted guy.”
The quarterback battle has been between three players but always seems to come down to two names: Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins.
Left out has been the dynamic Martell, the No. 56 overall player and second-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class. Martell — known more for being an elusive, shifty quarterback than a true pocket-passer — seems to always be named third by the coaching staff due to his lack of experience.
But his placement on the depth chart might not necessarily prevent him from earning snaps in the fall. Martell emphasized after the Cotton Bowl and last Wednesday that he has no plans to transfer and will be on the field, saying “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench.”
Martell said that even if he does not start, packages will be made to get him on the field at the same time as the starting quarterback.
Each quarterback came into the spring possessing clear attributes that set them apart.
No one on the team throws the ball as well as Haskins, who could provide it with the true pocket-passing quarterback it hasn’t had in years. Burrow might be the best dual-threat quarterback, with an arm better than Martell and more mobility than Haskins.
“Obviously you’re going to look at the running ability,” Martell said with a laugh. “I guess it’s just being able to make plays, make people miss and stuff like that. I mean that’s where I’m at my best. Just adding that element to the game where you’ve got to add an extra guy to guard me when it comes to running the ball where it takes them out of pass coverage.”
Many view Martell as a strong candidate for the job because of his ability to run. Whether it was Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett, Ohio State has leaned heavily on quarterbacks who can impact the game with their ability to move.
Haskins, viewed by most as the frontrunner for the position, does not have the legs to impact the game. However, Meyer has said repeatedly the offense will change based on who is at certain positions.
The last time Ohio State had a quarterback shift to a different position was in 2015 when Miller played H-back with the combination of Barrett and Cardale Jones starting under center. Miller was coming off shoulder surgery, but still had the legs to impact the game. Often appearing under center in a wildcat formation, Miller at least initially seemed to give teams the concern that he could either run or take them by surprise by passing.
Martell would come into the role much differently. It became clear as the season wore on Miller would not throw the ball, but his legs were still something of which to be wary. Though not the runner Miller was, Martell would not have any limitations on his arm and could still throw the ball if he took the snap.
There’s plenty of other options Ohio State could have in trying to get Martell on the field. The team has not revealed anything more about what they might be other than they are being explored.
One thing is for certain: Martell did not come to sit on the bench.
“I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Martell said. “There will be packages if I don’t win the starting job for sure.”