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Evaluating new, revamped Ohio State quarterback depth chart

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Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is expected to be the starter for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Evaluating new, revamped Ohio State quarterback depth chart

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 about 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 Justin Fields and the Ohio State starting quarterback job? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Just because the eventual winner might seem fairly obvious doesn’t mean there isn’t a competition. Whether it’s playing actual games or evaluating quarterbacks during training camp at Ohio State, everything gets settled on the field.

So, what’s the rush? Justin Fields is almost certainly going to emerge as the top pick for the Buckeyes, but he hasn’t earned that position yet after just 15 practices. And, sure, Gunnar Hoak is going to have his work cut out for him as he tries to get a crash-course education in the Ohio State offense after his arrival as a graduate transfer from Kentucky. But why would Ohio State completely rule him out as an option before he’s even been through a practice yet?

Just like Matthew Baldwin was going to get an opportunity in a head-to-head battle with Fields in August, Hoak should be afforded the same chance. And there are a couple simple reasons why that’s important for the Buckeyes — including some that directly benefit Fields. Just anointing the five-star Georgia transfer may offer clarity on paper for the order of the depth chart, and there might also be value in allowing teammates to officially start looking to him as the leader of the offense. But it would seem even more helpful to make sure there is no possible way complacency could sneak in for Fields as he continues learning the playbook, improving as a passer and staying locked in knowing that nothing has been earned yet.

Gunnar Hoak-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State landed Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak to compete with Justin Fields at quarterback. (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

Fields was kept in the loop on the plans for Ohio State when Hoak entered the picture, and sources indicated to Lettermen Row that he has no problems at all bringing in another arm and entering August with the position still technically up for grabs. There were signs as spring camp progressed that reinforced the idea that Fields was the clear leader in the race against Baldwin, and that’s obviously not going to be different when Hoak gets on the field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in a couple months. But it’s clear at every position that Ohio State coach Ryan Day isn’t going to etch any names into the starting lineup in April with so much time still left before a game is played. Things can change — and quarterback isn’t an exception to that approach.

Ohio State has done a truly remarkable job remaking the roster at that critical position, and Hoak is a significant pickup to bolster the depth when it had dwindled down to almost nothing. Suggesting that the Buckeyes would lie to him about the situation does a disservice to Day and everything else the program has to offer in this Columbus homecoming for Hoak. And it’s also unfair to assume he fell for some sort of ploy. Hoak is a smart kid with a college degree and experience in major football, and he will have known exactly what kind of challenge he’ll be facing — as well as the opportunity that the backup role could provide him.

Have the odds shifted away from Justin Fields as the next starter at Ohio State? Of course not. But there’s no real reason for the Buckeyes to just skip the game and accept that outcome without anybody stepping on the field to prove it first.

Miss any previous editions of Question of the Day? Catch up right here.

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Meatchicken SuxallinosuejpBrunstarColortv1967 Recent comment authors
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allinosu
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allinosu

I think Day made a mistake (inexperience)letting Fields walk in and get the bigger share of the reps from day one. He didn’t have to earn anything. Day is thinking like it’s the NFL where they bring in their guy to lead the team. I think it’s bad for morale when players who have been in the program working are shuffled back without a fair competition. Fields was the guy the minute he excepted the scholarship. These kids make bonds and when it happens to one it could affect others. This could bite Day in the ass eventually.

Austin Howser
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Austin Howser

This is how the transfer thing works everywhere. And I don’t think Matthew Baldwin ever thought he could win the position, which to me shows he ethier lacked confidence or had 1 foot ou the door. He is just like Tate Martell who wont even start at Miami

allinosu
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allinosu

No it isn’t how it works everywhere. Good coaches make players earn their spot instead of handing to them.

ejp
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ejp

Why are so many assuming Fields was gifted the job? You’re devaluing his work and skill. We don’t see their practices or their meetings. All available info (outside of conspiracy theories from fans’ minds) points to an open competition, which Fields was winning, and in which now he has a leg up on Hoak. But if Hoak comes and hits all his throws and knows the offense and is a leader, moreso than Fields, no doubt Day would start Hoak. That’s just not likely.

allinosu
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allinosu

Going on info provided on here as well as other buckeye sites that said he was getting most of the reps with the 1st team from the get go.

Colortv1967
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Colortv1967

Baldwin is far different from Martell. He just wanted a fair shot and he didn’t get it. I echo allinosu’s comments. I believe Day promised Fields the job to get him and now he must back up that promise. Is Fields the best QB? Probably. But he needs to earn it in a fair and hard competition. Spring practice did not allow that.

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

I did notice some tension on the sidelines with Fields and some of the players during the spring game. He just needs to go out work hard and earn the team’s respect which I fell he hasn’t yet.

Colortv1967
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Colortv1967

That same tension existed at Georgia. But, Smart did the same thing to Fields that Day did to Baldwin.

Brunstar
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Brunstar

Birm has said multiple times that Fields is the best QB prospect he has ever scene during his time covering recruiting. I think things will work out just fine, people want to play for a winner.

allinosu
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allinosu

Yes throwing and running is great but there is a lot of talk he has trouble reading defenses which showed him holding onto the ball somewhat in the spring game. Hopefully that’s just inexperience.

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

to make sure there is no possible way complacency could sneak in for Fields, good way to say getting the BIG head. Hopefully Fields knows he really isn’t that good and needs to work hard no matter given the starting spot or not. Time will tell.

Meatchicken Sux
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Meatchicken Sux

Agreed

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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