STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett is the front-runner for Big Ten offensive player of the year and in just about every Heisman Trophy conversation.
But when asked Wednesday whether the Buckeyes junior — who will lead the Buckeyes against Penn State this weekend — is the best quarterback he’s ever faced, Nittany Lions DE Evan Schwan named off a couple of other Ohio State QBs first.
“The best quarterback? Playing last year, Cardale [Jones] at Ohio State was impressive. The best I’ve ever played against, I’d say it was Braxton [Miller] a few years ago when he was solid at the quarterback position,” Schwan said. “He got hurt and then Cardale and J.T. battled to replace him. I’d say Braxton was the best.”
Perhaps most telling in Schwan’s comment is the level of talent Ohio State has had behind center since Urban Meyer came to Columbus. The fifth-year senior and has plenty of game experience and has seen a lot of quarterbacks in the Big Ten — it’s not surprising that he gravitated to the three Ohio State quarterbacks as he pondered the question.
While it might seem surprising for Schwan to rank Miller ahead of Barrett, it’s hardly outrageous. Miller was twice the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year (2012-13) and the conference’s freshman of the year in 2011.
“I just thought he made so many plays with his feet whenever his reads weren’t there throwing the ball,” Schwan said of Miller. “He just controlled Ohio State’s offense, and with the success they had, I feel like he was the leader behind it all on the offensive side but also in general.”
Barrett was outstanding in place of Miller during the 2014 season until a season-ending injury against Michigan forced Jones into the starting role to complete the national championship run. Jones began last season as the starting quarterback but eventually gave way to Barrett.
This year Barrett has the job all to himself and leads the Big Ten in completion percentage, touchdowns passes and rushing yards by a non-running back. He also just set the Ohio State record for most total touchdowns in a career — breaking Miller’s record.
“He’s a really athletic quarterback,” Schwan said of Barrett. “He’s a dual-threat both in the passing game and the run game. We’re going to have a lot of responsibility at the end position to do the best we can do to contain him so he can’t make those big plays.”