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Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell are all competing for Ohio State's starting quarterback job.

Ohio State football: Will Buckeyes make quarterback decision by end of spring?

Austin Ward

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As much as Urban Meyer enjoys heated competition, this isn’t a normal situation at Ohio State this spring. By the time the Buckeyes wrap up practice next month, they’re going to need to have a plan and a pecking order in place at the most important position on the field. No matter what, I don’t think the Buckeyes will be in position to use an actual game as a tiebreaker this year.

There obviously wouldn’t be a rush if Joe Burrow didn’t have the ability to graduate and be immediately eligible elsewhere as a transfer. And Meyer’s desire to do right by a guy who has done everything the program has asked of him is both admirable and a complication. The Buckeyes are going to need to determine fairly quickly whether they believe Burrow could be their guy this season or if they’re sticking with Dwayne Haskins after he proved himself last season, and that adds urgency to these workouts that might generally have less pressure than those in training camp in August. The good news for Ohio State is that Meyer has been through all of this plenty of times before, and he should be able to get a good enough feel for his depth chart in the coming weeks to set the right course for the season.

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Ohio State co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will have a tough decision to make. (Ryan Donnelly/Land of 10)

There’s no reason to rule Tate Martell out of this mix right now, particularly with the Buckeyes already talking about installing packages to feature his athleticism. But the full-time job is almost certainly going to come down to Haskins and Burrow, and to me there is probably only one scenario that would allow the race to drag out until the opener. If Burrow is given an indication that he’s done enough to be clearly ahead of Haskins heading into the summer, this could all be revisited again in August. But if it remains too close to call, that uncertainty might be enough to nudge Burrow away from Ohio State to somewhere he could be assured of starting — which is why I asked him on Thursday if he had to win the job to definitely stick around.

“You know, I’m not really sure,” Burrow said. “I would evaluate it after spring ball and see what they tell me and see what our meetings are like. But I’m 100 percent focused on this spring right now.

“I was convinced that it was going to be an open competition and that’s why I wanted to stay and give it my best shot.”

Expecting Burrow to wait around until August and then do it again would be asking a lot. And from a team perspective, Ohio State would likely be better off making a decision and sticking with it rather than experimenting in the opener against Oregon State.

At this point, the competition still has time to play out on the practice field. But the clock is already ticking for a team that will have to make at least one tough decision by the end of spring.

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