Ohio's Mr. Football Burrow joins QB crowd at Ohio State
ATHENS, Ohio -- Quarterbacks, quarterbacks everywhere.
Specifically at Ohio State. Ohio State has a bunch of quarterbacks.
The reigning national champions added two more on National Signing Day Wednesday as Ohio's Mr. Football Joe Burrow of Athens High School and Florida native Torrance Gibson made their Ohio State scholarships official.
Already at Ohio State are Cardale Jones, who started the final three games of Ohio State's national-title run, J.T. Barrett, who finished fifth in the Heisman voting and broke the Big Ten single-season touchdown record in his first 12 starts last fall and Braxton Miller, a three-year starter and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year who was injured last August.
Miller has one year of eligibility left. Barrett has three. Jones has two, though his January announcement that he'll return for 2015 came with the expectation that he'll graduate in December and head to the 2016 NFL Draft. The Buckeyes redshirted quarterback Stephen Collier last year after he enrolled early and spent two semesters with the team. Collier has four years of eligibility remaining.
The competition just to get on the field is fierce, and that's something other coaches from big-name programs used to try to sway Burrow in the stretch run of his recruitment.
"I never wavered," Burrow said. "It felt like a long process, especially in the last couple months with people trying to flip (his commitment). I'm excited to go to Ohio State and to have this part of it overwith."
Burrow, a four-star recruit who's listed at 6-foot-4 and looks like he's still growing, was Gatorade's Ohio Football Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons and Ohio's Mr. Football last fall after leading Athens to the Division 3 state title game. He threw for an eye-popping 4,437 yards and 63 touchdowns in 15 games last fall.
Wednesday morning, Scout.com ranked Ohio State's 2015 class as the fifth-best class nationally. Gibson, Scout.com's fifth-best quarterback, a four-star recruit and No. 52 overall prospect in the class, solidified his Ohio State commitment Wednesday morning in a ceremony at his school.
The 6-3, 207-pound Gibson is considered a tremendous athlete who could move to another position. Six months before Burrow -- Scout.com's No. 13 quarterback in the class of 2015 -- committed last May, the Buckeyes got a verbal commitment from class of 2017 quarterback Danny Clark of Massillon who, like Gibson and Burrow, is big and fast and gifted.
Just the way Meyer likes them.
"Why Ohio State? Coach Meyer's rapport with quarterbacks," Burrow said. "He's had several Heisman finalists and won national championships. What he does, it works."
How it all works out is for down the road, and that's not something Burrow said is a worry.
"I'm just excited to come in and compete," Burrow said. "I'm going to work like crazy alongside the guys who are there. I'm ready to compete and I'll be a better football player coming out of it."
Burrow's father, Jimmy, is the defensive coordinator at Ohio University in Athens. He coached two seasons in the early 2000s at Nebraska, where his older sons, Jamie and Dan, played football.
Nebraska recruited Joe Burrow -- his brothers recruited him for Nebraska, too -- and his dad's current school was one of dozens of Midwest schools that recruited him early in the process. He took calls and visits to his basketball games from schools nationwide in recent weeks.
He told them all thanks but no thanks and, like his dad, wore Ohio State gear as he and three Athens teammates signed Wednesday morning.
"For Joe, picking Ohio State was a combination of Coach Meyer and Coach (Tom) Herman (now the head coach at the University of Houston) at the time," Jimmy Burrow said. "It's one of the top programs in the country, and Joe wanted to go somewhere where he could play for a national championship. I think being able to stay pretty close to home was pretty important, too.
"People speculated a little because of our ties to Nebraska but he was always a solid Buckeye commit. Really if it hadn't been for Ohio State I think the Ohio Bobcats were definitely in it.
"He's never mentioned (the quarterback competition at Ohio State). A lot of people asked him about it, sure. He just wants to play at the highest level and competition is not something he's scared of. He'll go compete and hopefully one day get the chance to play quarterback at Ohio State."
Joe Burrow threw for 11,428 yards and 156 touchdowns in his high school career. He joins 2013 winner Dante Booker, a linebacker from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, in going from Ohio's Mr. Football to Ohio State and joins Mitch Trubisky (2012-North Carolina) and Maty Mauk (2011-Missouri) as Mr. Football winners going on to play quarterback at the college level.
The numbers in the crowded quarterback room say he'll redshirt in 2015. But things change quickly, as they did in last year's three-quarterback season that ended in a national title, and the only sure thing is that Ohio State has options. Wednesday, Meyer added reinforcements.
"Playing college football has always been by dream," Joe Burrow said. "When I was little my brothers were playing for Nebraska and I wanted to grow up and be a Nebraska Cornhusker. My brothers kind of wished that too but they're very happy for me being able to go to Ohio State and so am I.
"I'm ready to compete. I'll be ready to compete for the starting job in a couple years. I'm very confident in my abilities."