July 3, 2012

Quarterbacks return future star, little experience

With Ohio State's fall camp a month away from kicking off, we at Buckeye Grove have decided to take a look at the roster that Urban Meyer will be working with in his first year as Ohio State's head coach. Today, we'll take a look at the current state of the Buckeyes' quarterback position.

From Josh Harris at Bowling Green to Alex Smith at Utah to Tim Tebow at Florida, no position has defined Urban Meyer's career as a head coach like the quarterback position has. Fortunately for Meyer, he arrives in Columbus with a quarterback who's already waiting to be transformed into a star in Braxton Miller.

Throughout a turmoil-filled season that resulted in a 6-7 record for the Buckeyes, Miller proved to be one of the few bright spots for fans in Columbus. A true freshman who took over as Ohio State's starting quarterback in its fourth game of last season, the 6-foot-2, 210 Miller threw for 1,159 passing yards and 13 touchdowns and gained another 715 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing the ball.

As somebody who knows a thing or two about the quarterback position, Meyer liked what he saw in Miller before he even coached the Huber Heights, Ohio native throughout spring practice.

"We've been blessed to have some great quarterbacks," Meyer said during his introductory press conference at Ohio State last November. "And I'm really thinking (Miller) can be- I'm putting a lot of pressure on this cat already- but he's special. What I've seen on film, he's special."

That might seem like lofty expectations for a player who's only entering his second season on a college campus this fall, but it's certainly not out of line for anyone who saw Miller play last season. Playing in an offensive system that wasn't necessarily suited towards his strengths, Miller still managed to electrify crowds with both his arm and his leg. In the Buckeyes' 40-34 loss at the hands of Michigan last season, Miller accounted for 335 yards of offense and three total touchdowns.

One regular season that culminated with Miller being named the Big Ten's Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year was enough for Meyer to see that he has a special player returning under center for the Buckeyes.

"I watched him play throughout the year," Meyer said. "I've watched him compete in the big game. And to tell you I'm excited to coach him, I'm not using the correct adjectives. And because there's mixed company around I'm not going to use the correct adjectives, how excited I am. So I think you get it, right? Really excited."

Expect for both Miller's statistics and number of highlight reel plays to only increase now that he finds himself playing in Meyer's spread offense that will showcase the former five-star recruit as both a passer and a ballcarrier.

Backing up Miller this season will be fourth-year junior Kenny Guiton. A dual-threat quarterback from Houston, Texas, Guiton has only attempted two total passes in his first three seasons in Columbus, but according to Meyer, has made great strides throughout this past offseason.

"He was a guy that I was not a big fan of when I first got here and he's had a nice offseason," Meyer said of Guiton. "I like him better than I did. He's taking his profession real serious and I like guys who do that."

When pressed on what it was that he didn't like about Guiton initially, the OSU head coach simply responded with "I'm used to quarterbacks that act like quarterbacks."

Now that the 6-foot-3, 206 pound Guiton is acting like a quarterback, he finds himself entrenched as the Buckeyes' undisputed back-up quarterback for the first time in his career.

Aside from Miller and Guiton, the only other scholarship quarterback on the Ohio State roster is freshman Cardale Jones.

Originally a part of the Buckeyes' 2011 recruiting class, Jones spent last season at Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling at Ohio State in January. Despite Meyer's insistence that he doesn't want to redshirt players, the 6-foot-5, 226 pound Jones seems to be a likely candidate to do so considering that he has two players with more experience ahead of him on the depth chart. Despite being eligible to play, Jones did not take a snap in this year's spring game.

Rounding out the 2012 Ohio State quarterback stable is walk-on fourth-year junior Justin Siems.

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