CHICAGO — Urban Meyer had good things to say about all of Ohio State’s quarterbacks at the Big Ten football media days on Tuesday, even the ones who aren’t with the Buckeyes anymore.
He called Dwayne Haskins, the apparent starter going into the season, “very skilled” and “very talented throwing the ball.”
Tate Martel, expected to be Haskins’ back-up, also got the “very skilled” seal of approval from Meyer.
The No. 3 quarterback is Matt Baldwin, is a freshman coming off an ACL injury suffered in a Texas high school playoff game last year. Meyer says he likes him, too.
J.T. Barrett is gone after starting for four years and Joe Burrow, who battled Haskins for the starting job in the spring, transferred to LSU after Meyer told him Burrow had done enough to be regarded as the No. 1 quarterback.
Barrett and Burrow are gone, but that doesn’t mean Meyer has forgotten them.
He held Barrett up as an example of the kind of leadership he wants to see in a quarterback and said he wished Burrow was still a Buckeye.
“The void (at quarterback) is going to be the leadership component. J.T., I love that guy, always will. And what he did for our team inside, not many people were aware of. I’ll forever be indebted to J.T. Barrett. That’s how good a person and leader he was,” Meyer said.
Haskins “has a skill set that is very different from J.T.’s,” Meyer said. “His release, his size and his accuracy are his strengths.”
Meyer said he had “a very tough conversation in a positive way” with Burrow and his family about how the quarterback situation worked out.
“Joe Burrow, the last two weeks of spring practice, did about everything he could to win that spot. I really haven’t talked much about this, but it was right there. Joe and his family and I had open conversation all the way throughout, including a conversation after the season about how we’re going to handle the spring,” he said.
“I think the graduate transfer rule (which Burrow used) is very fair. I know that there’s a lot of conversation about that. It’s very fair. Do I wish he was with us? I do.
“Dwayne is very talented throwing the ball but that’s one-third of what a quarterback has to do. Being a leader and toughness are the other two. If we took the snap today, I made it clear that Dwayne would be the quarterback, but 30 days from now, a lot happens in 30 days.”
Wide receiver Parris Campbell, one of three OSU players at Big Ten media days, said he sees a difference in Haskins now that he is at the top of the quarterback depth chart.
“I think the biggest thing is when he was backing up J.T., he was kind of a keep to himself guy. Now he’s embracing the role he’s about to step into and is trying to be more of a leader,” Campbell said.
The receivers also have some adjusting to do after having Barrett as their quarterback their entire careers, Campbell said.
“It’s different. I can’t lie about it. It’s just something that takes time,” he said.
Some other thoughts from Meyer:
• Borland’s return: Meyer is confident middle linebacker Tuf Borland will return, probably sooner than expected, from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered during spring practice.
“I anticipate he’ll be ready early in the season,” Meyer said.
Borland solidified OSU’s linebacker group when he moved into the starting lineup last season. The other two starters, Jerome Baker and Chris Worley, are gone. So Borland’s status is getting a lot of attention.
“Tuf Borland is doing great. He’s got the same pain threshold as J.T. Barrett. He’s like J.T. He’s a tough guy and he heals fast,” Meyer said.
• Recruiting advantage: Having a roster full of 4-star and 5-star recruits generates competition for playing time, and that’s a good thing in Meyer’s eyes.
“What has made Ohio State great and really successful the last few years is the intense competition within positions. If someone is not performing there is a pretty good guy right behind him,” he said.
• Gant impresses: Freshman linebacker Dallas Gant, who enrolled at Ohio State in January, has impressed Meyer.
“He’s talented. I love him. His mom is a principal and you can tell. I really can’t wait to watch him go,” Meyer said.
• Suspended: Freshman defensive back Marcus Hooker, who was arrested for driving under the influence near his hometown in Pennsylvania earlier this summer, will be suspended for the opener against Oregon State.