COLUMBUS — A busy offseason for Ohio State quarterbacks in the NCAA transfer portal still isn’t complete, and Matthew Baldwin is the latest passer to enter his name in the database.
After just one season with the Buckeyes spent primarily recovering from knee surgery, the Texas native appears set to move on and find another place to tap into his strong-armed potential. Ohio State coach Ryan Day confirmed the transfer request on Thursday evening to Lettermen Row.
The departure of Baldwin officially clears the deck for Justin Fields to take control of the offense for Ohio State, but it also leaves the roster short on both depth and experience. Unless the Buckeyes can find a graduate transfer to backup Fields, the only other scholarship quarterback will be reserve Chris Chugunov who has just two career starts under his belt from his days West Virginia.
Multiple sources familiar with Baldwin’s thinking attributed the decision more to a desire to be closer to home rather than a concern about future playing time or any issues with the coaching staff. Baldwin famously waited for his turn at Lone Star State powerhouse Lake Travis and only started there for a single season, but there’s no question that all the changes around him in the quarterback room played a factor in the process after the arrival of Fields, the departure of Tate Martell and Dwayne Haskins declaring for the NFL Draft.
“In high school, I had [Baylor quarterback] Charlie Brewer one year ahead of me, so I had the option my sophomore year to transfer schools,” Baldwin said after the Rose Bowl. “That was competition, and I could have ran away from it and gone to get mine, started some other place for some worse school for three years. But I stuck with it, and I think it eventually made me much better sitting behind him and getting to play my senior year.
“I’ve never been someone to shy away from competition. I’m not afraid of competition. I welcome it. The best player is going to play here. There are no politics, and I hope I can be the best player.”
Baldwin made a solid case throughout spring camp, but he wasn’t likely going to emerge as the top option for the Buckeyes with Fields around in the short term. That presented the possibility that he might have to wait for two years for his shot barring any injuries, although it also created a secure plan for the future of the position with the program with Fields handing off to Baldwin and then potentially 2020 commit Jack Miller down the road.
Instead, Ohio State’s plans both now and for a years down the road have been thrown into the air, and the transfer portal has again dramatically impacted it at the most important position on the field.
“We want to recruit guys when they’re freshmen, sophomores, guys who want to be Buckeyes, build relationships over time,” Day said earlier this year. “We don’t want to rely on that. However, since there’s been such a change with this transfer portal, grad transfers becoming available, we have to be able to adapt, look at those things in order to be competitive.
“At the end of the day what matters is winning championships.”
The path to another one for the Buckeyes just got a little more complicated without Matthew Baldwin, and the work in the transfer portal likely still isn’t over for the program.