The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Ryan Day and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Matthew Baldwin? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
Is the qb1 spot a lock for Fields? Or will Baldwin put up more of a fight than expected?
— tanner broaddus (@tanner_broaddus) January 11, 2019
The race is already down to two, and one of those options is still waiting for the NCAA to approve his appeal for eligibility this season at Ohio State.
As of this exact moment, there is nobody more important at quarterback for the Buckeyes than Matthew Baldwin. And there’s absolutely a chance that he could wind up being the guy to take the torch from Dwayne Haskins and become the next leader of the Ohio State offense.
Of course, there was always that possibility to begin with for a handpicked recruit of Ryan Day with a big arm, knowledge of the playbook and now a healthy knee after spending last season recovering from surgery. Baldwin had the ability to beat out Tate Martell before the other returning backup bolted for Miami late on Tuesday night, and he’s not just going to roll over for Justin Fields, either.
“It’s going to take a lot to [win the job],” Baldwin said. “The work is cut out for me. Dwayne has set the standard so high. … But I’m very confident. Coach [Ryan] Day didn’t recruit me to sit down and watch other guys. That’s just my mindset.
“I mean, [sitting the first season] was always the thought right when I got here. I thought there wasn’t a great chance of me playing. You always want to play, but we knew that this coming year was when I could really try to make a mark.”
The urgency has obviously increased as the Buckeyes narrow down their options. But truthfully, the list of candidates was never all that likely to include Martell to begin with since his transfer has been a potential outcome almost since the moment he stepped foot on campus. Ohio State remains extremely confident that Fields will be given the green light to play this season, and while it would still like to have four scholarship passers on board, Day can feel relatively good about his two options on top of the depth chart despite the relative inexperience.
Fields is going to be the favorite to win the spot, make no mistake about that. He arrived at Ohio State as the most decorated recruit in the history of the program, and the transfer from Georgia has a set of tools that have long had coaches across the country drooling over his potential.
The Buckeyes also pursued him for a reason, and it wasn’t because they expected him to sit on the bench for a season. But Fields still needs assistance from the NCAA, he still needs to learn the playbook and he still needs to go out and compete in spring practice and training camp.
Matthew Baldwin is going to be right there alongside him. And he’s more important to the Buckeyes than ever.
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