Could Ohio State's stacked pantry at the quarterback position end up benefiting the Huskers?
When Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones — the three-game starter who helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title during the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff — announced he would return to Columbus for his junior season, the question changed from whether Jones would be back to what the Buckeyes would do with its large stable of impressive quarterbacks.
Ohio State entered fall camp with Heisman favorite Braxton Miller slated to be under center, but a shoulder injury sidelined the QB for the year. Freshman backup J.T. Barrett filled in, earning All-Big Ten honors and the league's quarterback of the year award. When Barrett broke his right ankle in a win over Michigan, Jones stepped in for the Big Ten championship and playoff run.
Miller graduated and would be eligible as a one-year immediate transfer, though he hasn't announced intentions to do so. In addition to Miller, Jones and Barrett, freshman Stephen Collier redshirted in 2014. And Urban Meyer has four-star QB prospect Torrance Gibson committed to his 2015 class.
But the most intriguing Buckeye quarterback for Husker fans? That'd be Joe Burrow.
Burrow — a high three-star, dual-threat quarterback — is the other QB committed to Ohio State's 2015 class. He also happens to be a Husker legacy.
Burrow's father, Jimmy Burrow, was a second-team All-Big Eight defensive back at Nebraska in 1975. The current Ohio defensive coordinator under Frank Solich, Jimmy was an eighth-round NFL draft pick by the Green Bay Packers.
Could Joe be tempted to transfer to Nebraska? The recruiting class is filling up quickly, but Husker Online's Sean Callahan broke down the topic in an in-depth interview on the topic Thursday on "The Bottom Line" with Mike'l Severe.
"I know the Joe Burrow stuff has picked up here, still though nothing really major has moved in that direction. The whole dynamic of Coach Beck really not wanting or recruiting Joe Burrow to Nebraska when they could have had him, and now coach Beck's going to be the quarterbacks coach for Joe Burrow at Ohio State," Callahan said. "Where's that going to go? Is Nebraska going to make a hard push here? I think they are."
According to former Husker quarterback and graduate assistant Joe Ganz, the Ohio State commit was recruited by Nebraska out of high school and NU was on the verge of offering Burrow — who threw 42 touchdowns and two interceptions as a senior, going 10-0 and winning the state's Mr. Football award — when he pledged to the Buckeyes.
Ganz was very impressed by the 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect.
"I loved Burrow. I loved him. I brought him to Tim (Beck). And I know that the one thing we saw from his junior year was, we didn't know arm strength wise. And we wanted to bring him into camp — to our quarterback camp — and put him through workouts, like we did with Stanton, like we do with a lot of kids. And I think that was what coach Beck wanted to do to feel comfortable putting in an offer. And then he said he was coming to camp, and I think a couple of days before he committed to Ohio State and we never got a chance to get him on campus. And I knew that was a possibility, but I still loved him. He was a bigger, more athletic, better version of what I saw in myself. ... We were going to offer him, and then he committed to Ohio State, and so we had to go a different direction."
Callahan mentioned that Burrow did show some interest in the Huskers — Burrow's family visited earlier in his high school career — though perhaps he didn't feel the interest was reciprocated.
"They came up the year before, and he wasn't as big-time yet. Athens, where he played, is not the highest level of Ohio football. He had some smaller MAC offers and maybe some smaller BCS-level offers. After that sophomore season he still put up huge numbers and he visited Nebraska. I think he came up twice. ... He didn't really feel like he was a priority, I guess," Callahan said, adding that — if tempted — Burrow would be faced with a tough decision. He's committed to play for the reigning national champs.
"If you're Joe Burrow, how do you leave Ohio State right now? Other than the fact that they have another four-star QB committed to them this year."
Would Nebraska welcome Burrow this time around? Here's a look at the position as it stands today (and you can check out our complete scholarship distribution chart here):
Junior Tommy Armstrong would seem to be a safe bet for the starting job in 2015. "It's going to be hard to beat him out," said Ganz.
Junior Ryker Fyfe, a former walk-on, earned the No. 2 spot behind Armstrong in 2015. Sophomore Johnny Stanton, a close third, was recruited by incoming coach Mike Riley during his time at Oregon State, and would seem to have a good relationship with the new Husker coach. And don't count out redshirt freshmen Zack Darlington and A.J. Bush. Especially Bush, Ganz said Thursday.
"I think one guy you're going to have to watch out for is A.J. Bush. Just a young kid, he's the total package at quarterback. He's tall, he's big, he's smooth, he's got great feet, he's got a good arm, he's athletic, he can run and he's smart. I think that's the guy that in the near future you're going to have to look out for."
Will Burrow be right alongside him, pushing for the starting job? If Nebraska coaches are interested, he has till Feb. 4 — signing day — to decide.
And OSU might push — hard — to keep Burrow. Meyer and Beck reportedly visited their prized QB commit on Thursday night, an in-home stop that apparently kept Burrow excited about his future at Ohio State:
Freakin go bucks— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) January 16, 2015
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