Could Burrow become best QB to leave OSU?

By Jim Naveau -

It would be no surprise if Joe Burrow has the most success of any quarterback who has transferred out of Ohio State after getting into a game there in the last 30 years.

The No. 1 reason for that prediction is that Burrow looks like he has the talent to be a starter for many Power Five conference teams, including several in the Big Ten. His rumored landing spots have included places like LSU, Florida, Nebraska, UCLA and Cincinnati.

The other big reason for that thought is that Burrow is only the fifth quarterback in the last three decades who has thrown a pass in a game for the Buckeyes who has transferred out.

Before him, the most recent QBs with regular-season experience to transfer were Rob Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton after the 2007 season.

Schoenhoft threw a total of 26 passes in two seasons before he decided his future at Ohio State didn’t look bright with Todd Boeckman as the returning starter and Terrelle Pryor coming in as a freshman in 2008.

Henton probably was better known for being arrested for allegedly soliciting a prostitute in Columbus than for the handful of passes he threw as a Buckeye.

Schoenhoft passed for 934 yards and six touchdowns with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions at Delaware after leaving Ohio State. Henton played for Georgia Southern and Fort Valley State following his time in Columbus.

Austin Moherman, a California guy who started the first two games in 1999 before being beaten out by Steve Bellisari, bailed after that season to transfer to Southwest Missouri State, where he threw for 3,965 yards and 18 touchdowns in two seasons.

Joe Pickens, the Cleveland St. Ignatius legend who, to the astonishment of much of Northeast Ohio, couldn’t outduel Bob Hoying in the competition to become the successor to Kirk Herbstreit, transferred to Duke after throwing five passes in 1991. He had a career total of 589 yards passing and four touchdown passes in a back-up role for the Blue Devils.

Quarterbacks like David Priestley, Taylor Graham, Torrance Gibson and Verlon Reed who never launched a pass for Ohio State also transferred in the last 30 years.

Priestley, a third-teamer behind Bellisari and Moherman, went on to throw for 2,957 yards and 23 touchdowns for Pittsburgh.

Reed, a high school quarterback who was converted to wide receiver at Ohio State, left in 2013 to go to the University of Findlay, where he became a quarterback again and passed for 4,503 yards and 33 touchdowns in two seasons as the Oilers’ starter.

Burrow, who graduated from OSU last week, will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer, an option that wasn’t open to college athletes until the NCAA approved it in 2006.

Probably the most notable graduate transfer quarterback was Russell Wilson, who played his final season at Wisconsin and threw for 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2011 after transferring from North Carolina State.

Can Burrow reach that level or come close to it? The jury is still out on that question. But he appears to have left Ohio State because he finished second behind Dwayne Haskins in a battle of two quarterbacks both apparently capable of starting at the highest levels of college football, not for any other reason.

Burrow completed 22 of 28 passes as J.T. Barrett’s back-up in 2016. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called the competition between Haskins and Burrow “neck and neck” before Burrow suffered a broken hand in the preseason last year.

Haskins moved into the No. 2 position as the heir apparent to Barrett after that and it feels like he never lost it.

Burrow, the son of an Ohio University assistant football coach, seems to have evaluated the situation and decided a change in the quarterback depth chart didn’t appear likely.

After OSU’s spring game, when he and Haskins both played well, he said, “I came here to play. I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years,” he said. “I know I’m a pretty darn good quarterback and I want to play somewhere.”

“It would be really hard for me to leave. I’ve put so much into this and I’ve put my heart and soul into it. If I were to leave it would be pretty devastating for me. But at the same time, I would understand how they went.”

Nearly 20 years earlier, Moherman said something similar to the Columbus Dispatch when he transferred. “To be quite honest, quite simply, I want to play college football,” he said.

Like an elite academic university, Ohio State football is hard to get into and hard to leave. But sometimes players make that decision.

By Jim Naveau

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

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