The return of Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett for his final year of eligibility might have fans excited, but the presence of freshman Tate Martell should have Buckeye backers all the more eager for the upcoming football season.
Martell came to OSU as a four-star dual-threat quarterback from Bishop Gorman High School, the proverbial football powerhouse that has cranked out such college studs as DeMarco Murray of the Tennessee Titans and Ronnie Stanley from the Baltimore Ravens. He was the No. 2 dual-threat signal caller in the nation, behind only Alabama commit Tua Tagovailoa.
Martell comes in as a potential star in an OSU offense that thrives on quarterbacks who know how to win. Win is exactly what Martell did at Gorman, compiling 113 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in three years.
He also helped lead the Gaels to a 45-0 record as a starter.
OSU coach Urban Meyer knows exactly what that kind of ability can bring to a team.
“We are a very evaluation-friendly business as a coach and as a quarterback and some people measure it by throwing yards … some people measure their success,” he said. “However, we measure it very simply, how do you win? And Tate is a winner.”
Martell will most likely find himself behind incumbent starter Barrett when spring practices start, but he makes an extremely valid case for being the predecessor for Barrett after he closes the book on his final chapter as a Buckeye.
“I’m not thinking about 12 months, I’m thinking about right now,” Martell said. “I want to play. I know that I’m just going to go out there and if I don’t play, that’s on me. I know coach Meyer is going to play the best guy, and if I go prove that, then that’s not my decision to make or anything.”
Martell’s biggest competition will come from backups redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow and redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins. Burrow has appeared in six games, completing 78.6 percent of his passes with a pair of touchdowns through the air, as well as a score on the ground.
However, Burrow’s numbers have come against largely ineffective and below average defenses when the Buckeyes were dominating. As for Haskins, a former four-star recruit, the hype from his high school career isn’t quite there compared to Martell’s, and he lacks the kind of mobility that Martell brings.
And we haven’t even mentioned top dual-threat quarterback and 2018 commit Emory Jones.
Either way, the quarterback competition could very well heat up for the 2017-18 season. And if it does, Martell is ready to make his mark.
“You’ve got to come to compete,” Martell said. “Like I said before, if you want to make it to the NFL, you’re not going to be competing against average guys. You’re going to be competing against the best anyway.”