The Ohio State football team walked off the field at AT&T Stadium early Tuesday morning as the national champions of college football, but its quarterback situation could not have been more undetermined.
The Buckeyes currently have three quarterbacks on the roster who could easily start at almost any school in the country and maybe one or two who could be valuable backups right away in the NFL.
That said, I broke down each quarterback and why they should stay or leave, and I made a prediction of what each signal caller will ultimately decide.
Senior — Braxton Miller
Why he should stay: In his 2 1/2 years as a starting quarterback at OSU, Miller has become a fan favorite and a staple of college football.
A two-time Big Ten Conference MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, Miller led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season in 2012 and broke multiple school records en route to a 26-8 record as OSU’s starting quarterback.
He also finished in the top 10 of the Heisman Trophy vote twice, finishing fifth in 2012 and ninth in 2013.
Miller not only has the most experience of any quarterback on OSU’s roster, he also has received more individual awards and led the Buckeyes in total yards for three straight seasons.
Entering the 2014 season, Miller needed just 504 total yards to break the school career record set by Art Schlichter from 1978-81 (8,850).
Safe to say if Miller returns, in any capacity and remains healthy, he will do just that.
Why he should leave: Frankly, there is no guarantee Miller would start in any capacity in 2015, let alone at quarterback.
Miller would be up against the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year in redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett and a national title winner in redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones — and that is just if he wants to play quarterback.
If Miller stays and does not win the starting job, it is likely he would play H-back and would then have to compete with redshirt-freshman Jalin Marshall and sophomore Dontre Wilson for playing time.
If Miller were to transfer, he could easily earn a starting job at probably 80 percent of Division I football schools in the country.
But at OSU, his chances are dwindling.
Prediction: Miller will remain at OSU, but not as its starting quarterback. Will play significant time as a wildcat quarterback and as an H-back.
Redshirt-freshman — J.T. Barrett
Why he should stay: Why wouldn’t he?
Barrett not only led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record, he won the Quarterback of the Year award as, in reality, a backup.
He finished fifth in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting, and likely would have been invited to New York as a finalist had a fractured ankle against Michigan not cut his season short.
Barrett broke Drew Brees’ Big Ten conference record for total touchdowns in a season in just 11 and three-fourths games and is the youngest of the three quarterbacks in this discussion.
Even if Jones and Miller both decide to stay, and Barrett doesn’t win the job in 2015, he could still very well be the Buckeye starter in 2016 and almost guaranteed the spot in 2017 should he return for a redshirt-senior season.
Why he should leave: Since Barrett is not yet eligible for the NFL Draft, it is hard to find a reason for the Texas native to leave Columbus.
Barrett could transfer and still have two remaining years of eligibility, but this would ultimately set him back considering all he has accomplished as a young player.
If the NFL was a possibility, it would make sense more than anyone on this list for Barrett to book for the big leagues. He has a full season of experience under his belt in a conference that now has a national title and two New Year’s Six bowl wins next to its name.
A long shot prediction could be made that Barrett will follow now-former OSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman down to Houston where Herman is now the head coach to play in his home state.
But Barrett said after the title game that he will return to Columbus, and seemed happy to do so.
Prediction: Barrett returns to OSU, sitting out most of spring practice because of rehab from an ankle injury, and earns the starting job in 2015 because of his knowledge of the game and production.
Redshirt-sophomore — Cardale Jones
Why he should stay: Not only is Jones an Ohio native, he helped bring OSU its first national championship in 12 years, which is the last major title won by an Ohio team in that span.
Jones has become a household name, and will be forever remembered by Buckeyes everywhere.
And he got a hug from LeBron James, so why ruin that, right?
But in all seriousness, Jones has the tools and ability to be an NFL quarterback. Standing 6-feet-5-inches and 250 pounds with a cannon for an arm, Jones is a prototype for the NFL.
However, just going on three starts, albeit against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, doesn’t give us a lot to go off of.
NFL scouts dissect every aspect of a player’s game, and frankly, there isn’t enough film on Jones just yet.
His physical talent, along with Miller and Barrett nursing injuries, will give him an early edge on the competition should he decide to return.
Why he should leave: Jones has been in a similar situation before.
Jones was the starting quarterback throughout spring practice in 2014 as Miller nursed shoulder surgery and, despite a poor passing performance in the spring game (14-31 for 126 yards), beat out Barrett for the backup job.
After that, however, Barrett made a late push and was announced as Miller’s backup just days before Miller re-injured his shoulder.
Jones was reduced to third-string, and who is to say that won’t happen again in this off-season?
If he stays, Jones will, in all likelihood, enter spring practice as the starter with Barrett and Miller recovering from their injuries, but can he make a big enough push to beat out both?
Jones’ stock will never be higher than it is right now barring being named the OSU starter and earning another national title.
If he leaves now, he not only puts himself in a situation to make money, he puts the Buckeyes in a situation to make an easier decision at quarterback.
Prediction: Jones stays, does well enough in spring practice to earn the No. 2 spot on the depth chart and backs up Barrett in 2015.
Oh, and don’t forget that top-dual threat quarterback recruit Torrance Gibson is verbally committed to play for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
But I don’t dare to go there … yet.