PASADENA, Calif. – Dwayne Haskins hasn’t made it official he’s entering the NFL draft, but Ohio State’s No. 2 quarterback, Tate Martell, made it clear on Sunday he expects to be OSU’s starter next season if Haskins does depart for the pros.
Martell said, “I will,” when asked who will be the starting QB in 2019 if Haskins is gone. “I’m 100 percent sure. “I feel there is no doubt I’d go out there and do really well,” he said.
That bold declaration is a departure from the way Ohio State quarterbacks have traditionally handled a quarterback competition, or in this case a potential quarterback competition.
Transfer rumors have swirled around Martell in recent weeks, but he says he’s not going anywhere and it doesn’t matter who else might transfer into Ohio State.
“At this point I just keep getting better every day and I feel like it’s my turn to go out there and do my thing. I’ve worked extremely hard to get to the point where I am,” Martell said. “Every year I keep climbing and getting better. So at this point I know I’m comfortable with where I’m at and what I can go out there and do. I’m really excited for next year.”
Speculation that Georgia freshman Justin Fields, a former 5-star recruit, could land at OSU as a transfer had a lot to do with the rumors Martell might leave.
Martell said Fields possibly transferring doesn’t faze him. “Why would I leave for somebody who hasn’t put a single second into the program? I’ve put two years of working my ass off into something that I’ve been dreaming of my whole life.
“To just run from somebody that hasn’t put a single second into workouts or anything like that, there’s not a chance,” he said. “My teammates know that I’m the type of person that is going to fight it
out. That’s what I’ve always done and I have no problem doing it. I’ve been an underdog my whole life and I have no problem going out there and taking the job.”
Ohio State moved away from the zone read offense it used during J.T. Barrett’s four seasons as a starter and put more emphasis on passing the ball this season to take advantage of Haskins’ exceptional arm talent.
The result was the greatest passing season ever by an OSU quarterback – 4,580 yards, 47 touchdowns and five games of more than 400 yards passing.
“Receivers are really spoiled with a quarterback like Dwayne. He’s ridiculous, the throws he can make – it’s just unreal,” Martell said.
Martell is more of a dual threat quarterback but he says he can do more in the passing game than he showed in limited appearances this season when he usually was inserted as a running threat close to the goal line.
“I don’t think you’ve even scratched the surface yet. Just going in there and running a couple plays and not really having the ability to show everything I want, it’s difficult but I had to do that. I told Coach (Ryan) Day and Coach (Urban) Meyer I’d do anything for this team. In the middle of the year, I said, ‘Whatever this team needs, I’ll go do it.’
“I think we would keep a lot of the passing game stuff and add a lot of the zone read stuff back in. I don’t know how much the offense would change,” he said.
Jim Naveau writes for the Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. He can be reached at [email protected]