Ohio State football: What role will Tate Martell play for Buckeyes in 2018?
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What position does Tate Martell play next season?
— Tim Bishman (@TimBishman) January 8, 2018
Tate Martell may be capable of playing a position other than quarterback at Ohio State. The freshman is willing to contribute at a different spot. And when called upon with the scout team, Martell has lined up at wide receiver and running back already.
But Martell is a quarterback. That’s where he needs to be next season, no matter how enticing it might be for the Buckeyes to try to move him around and get him more involved offensively. But there is one significant caveat to that point right now.
Joe Burrow indicated that he was planning on making up his mind about the potential of transferring as a graduate within a couple weeks of the Cotton Bowl. If he decides to stick around and battle with Dwayne Haskins for the starting role, that may change the equation for Martell in the short term and enhance the likelihood that he could line up elsewhere next fall. Urban Meyer isn’t going to want to waste another year of Martell’s explosive playmaking ability, and he would almost certainly carve out a package of plays to get him involved if the Buckeyes had the security of two other veteran quarterbacks on the depth chart.
It gets more complicated if Burrow elects to move on to a different program this offseason. That would leave only Haskins and early enrollee Matthew Baldwin as scholarship options on the depth chart aside from Martell, and in that scenario, Ohio State would have to be a bit more careful shuffling him around the field. Would the Buckeyes still install a few packages for him? Almost certainly, probably with some wildcat-like looks for him to run. But it couldn’t really run the risk of giving up practice reps at quarterback to try him at H-back or anywhere else at the expense of installing the game plan with him at the most important spot on the field.
His development at his true position also has to be a consideration. Martell still has plenty of room to grow as a passer and much to learn about the offense, and it would be a challenge to handle all those responsibilities at quarterback while also trying to get reps at a completely different position. On top of that, the Buckeyes already have no shortage of weapons it can use at wide receiver, H-back and tailback, and they need the football in their hands, too.
There’s no question that Martell’s blossoming maturity, versatility and athleticism all work in Ohio State’s favor. But ultimately, the best move might be to resist making one at all and keep him at quarterback.
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