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Joe Burrow should be considered a part of Ohio State's future until he indicates otherwise.

Ohio State football: Don’t rule out Joe Burrow in Buckeyes’ quarterback battle

Austin Ward

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

First of all, let’s start with some apologies. One for repurposing a genuine question about the quarterbacks, and a second to Joe Burrow for the fact that he’s so often been overlooked during the last few months. Right here in this space, there has been plenty of speculating about what Tate Martell’s role will be and even more full-throated projections that Dwayne Haskins will be the starting quarterback. I still believe that Ohio State will carve out a role for its dual-threat redshirt freshman, and nothing has changed my belief that the rifle-armed Haskins eventually will be the main guy for the defending Big Ten champions.

But Burrow is still around, still talented and still drawing praise from Urban Meyer. All of those things are relevant, and it’s probably time to take them more seriously when breaking down this battle throughout in spring camp. Let’s go through them in order.

No. 1: Joe Burrow hasn’t made public any plans to transfer.

In the immediate aftermath of the Cotton Bowl victory, Burrow indicated that he would make a decision about his future within a few weeks as he weighed options as a graduate transfer. Now it’s important to note that he didn’t need to rush to a conclusion, and he always reserved the right to compete in spring practices, evaluate where he stood and then make a choice because he doesn’t graduate until the end of the semester. But Burrow suggested he was leaning toward staying at the end of last season, and he had to expect then that Haskins would be the favorite for the job. Maybe Burrow just bet on himself to beat him out in a head-to-head matchup, maybe he has no problem sticking around as a backup at a program that has shown how important it is to have talent in reserve at that key position. Maybe Burrow just realized he didn’t need to announce his intentions in January. But no matter what his motivations were or are, it’s significant that he’s on campus now.

Ohio State-Urban Meyer-Buckeyes football-Buckeyes quarterbacks-depth chart
Urban Meyer still is talking about how close the backup battle at quarterback was last year. (Ryan Donnelly/Land of 10)

No. 2: Joe Burrow is more than capable of leading the Ohio State offense.

The ability, intelligence and experience that made Burrow an asset behind J.T. Barrett in the past are all still there. He’s more than capable of leading Ohio State’s power-spread offense and potentially taking the program back to the College Football Playoff. He can move well enough to operate the run game, he has an arm that can deliver passes to the right spots on time and he’s always been considered someone who can make the right decisions. The Buckeyes should be in great shape with either quarterback taking over for Barrett — and if it can keep both, that would be even better for Meyer.

No. 3. Urban Meyer still is referencing how difficult the backup decision was last year.

The most unfortunate part of this intriguing situation with Burrow was that it was a training-camp injury that forced Ohio State’s hand last season. (Add one more apology, I guess, for a broken-hand related pun.) The fact that Meyer opened his first news conference of the spring by referring back to the previous competition and how it was “neck and neck” reinforces that he has faith in Burrow and his ability. The coaching staff and the Burrow family have been in communication about his options, and while Meyer isn’t discussing those details in public, he’s trying to be transparent about the process to let Burrow make the best decision possible. That’s perhaps not ideal for Meyer because he probably would prefer not to make a final depth-chart decision until August, but these are unique circumstances.

And Burrow is clearly worth the effort, even if he hasn’t perhaps received enough credit for it here during the last few months.

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