ARLINGTON, Texas — Somewhere in between the extra work on his injured right knee, going to class and preparing for the biggest game of his life, Matthew Baldwin had to sneak in some time for two extra exams that would allow him to graduate early.
When it comes to the off-the-field stuff, the Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) quarterback and Ohio State signee already has had a busy, successful week. And he’s officially set now to enroll early with the Buckeyes, giving him an invaluable head start with the program as it begins transitioning to a future without J.T. Barrett.
“He is just very determined,” Baldwin’s mother, Mindy, said before Lake Travis’ state championship game on Saturday afternoon against Allen. “It’s been a lot of practice, he’s practiced every afternoon, in the mornings he’s gone to the trainer and we’ve got an ice machine, so he’s been icing it overnight. So he’s added a few things — while at the same time he’s trying to get two credits by exams in English and Speech.
“He just crammed the stuff in and took the tests so he could graduate.”
All that studying paid off academically, and the Cavaliers were banking on a similar performance physically from Baldwin after he left his team’s semifinal win last week early with his injury.
He had X-rays that didn’t reveal significant damage, was fitted for a brace and then returned to practice on Tuesday — one day before making his commitment to the Buckeyes official during the early signing period.
Then he aced a couple more tests to ensure he can report to Ohio State in January.
“We’re not really sure how he passed,” his father Michael Baldwin joked. “He’s such a bright kid, and he’s a got a 3.97 GPA, so that’s part of it.
“But I don’t know how he found all that extra time to study for it.”
That wasn’t the end of this busy stretch for the Baldwins, who are still doing Christmas shopping, just celebrated a birthday for their daughter and will be traveling back to Dallas next week to visit Ohio State ahead of the Cotton Bowl.
But it was a crucial step for Baldwin and the Buckeyes as that relationship begins after one more game in Texas.
“I saw a dominant performance by a senior,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said on Wednesday. “I saw a kid that had a chance to leave Lake Travis, and nowadays every kid, I’d say 90 percent of those players leave because they have to go get theirs, and here’s a guy who was loyal to his school.
“It was a great high school, one of my first experiences down there. That’s as good a football as there is in the United States of America. Here he comes in and the kid completes over 70 percent of his passes, takes them to a state championship, and is just a monster competitor.”
That clearly applies in the classroom as well, officially clearing the way for an early arrival at Ohio State.