Joe Podelco / Lantern photo editor
Joe Bauserman picked the wrong era to try to be Ohio State’s quarterback.
Early in his OSU career he was forced to compete with a highly touted recruit in senior Terrelle Pryor and is now entering his final year battling another highly touted recruit in freshman Braxton Miller.
However, the redshirt senior has been given a golden opportunity to be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes throughout Pryor’s five-game suspension.
Pryor, along with offensive lineman Mike Adams, running back Dan Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits. Coach Jim Tressel will join them for failing to report their violations.
Bauserman said that although the situation isn’t ideal, he is making the best of the opportunity.
“It’s all you can ask for sometimes,” he said. “Under the circumstances, it sucks. You’d like to have all five of those guys, and it’s tough. But it’s an opportunity and I’ll try to take advantage of it.”
Bauserman played football and baseball in high school and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth round of the 2004 MLB draft. He played three seasons in the Pirates’ farm system before walking on to the OSU football team.
The 25-year-old former Minor League pitcher said he doesn’t miss baseball and is only concerned about the football team.
“I don’t even think about it,” Bauserman said. “I’m focused on one opportunity and what’s going on right now.”
Bauserman has fought all spring to get a leg up on the three other candidates looking to replace Pryor during his suspension. Miller, redshirt sophomore Kenny Guiton and redshirt freshman Taylor Graham each threw a touchdown pass in Saturday’s Spring Game.
Bauserman said he thought he had a successful spring.
“I feel good about what I did,” he said. “I have no control about whether I’ll be playing or not. It’s up to coach Tress and coach Sic (quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano) if they’re going to give me a chance.”
He said there will always be excitement with major recruits coming to campus but that he has everything in his game that those recruits have.
“People want excitement. A guy that they’ve never seen before is going to get them thinking about it,” Bauserman said. “It doesn’t bother me. I feel like I can play at this level just as well as anybody else.”
Senior center Mike Brewster said Bauserman’s experience should help him in the competition.
“Joe’s a real solid guy. He knows the offense. He’s going to make the smart play. That’s what you want from your quarterback,” Brewster said. “I think Joe will be the No. 1 probably going into camp and, you know, he’s comfortable back there and that always makes you feel good if your quarterback knows everything about the offense.”
Bauserman, however, said he does not know what Tressel will decide.
“You try to get out there and do what you can do, and at the end of the day, coach will make the right decision,” Bauserman said.
Junior defensive lineman John Simon said he has been impressed with Bauserman during spring practice.
“Joe’s had a terrific spring for us throwing passes on the money,” Simon said. “(He’s a) great scrambler, always finds the open receiver, so I think he’s doing a nice job for us.”
Bauserman said he has the skills and mobility it takes to be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes.
“You have to be somewhat mobile to be able to slide up in the pocket, have quick feet, get from progression to progression, move around and get out of some sticky situations sometimes,” Bauserman said.
Although Bauserman was the first quarterback on the field for the Buckeyes during the scrimmage, he did not throw his touchdown pass until the final play of the game.
He said he hopes the Spring Game helped his stock as the starting quarterback.
“I feel good about what I did today,” Bauserman said. “We made some strides and got better as a team. I have no control if I’m going to be playing. It is up to coach Tressel. Today is about getting better.”