COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — There’s a three-headed quarterback controversy brewing at Ohio State.
For now, however, Urban Meyer doesn’t want to even think about it.
“When you say, ‘How does it play out?’ I don’t know,” he said Tuesday after the national champion Buckeyes’ first of 15 spring practices. “It’s day to day, player by player. That’s the focus — not what’s going to happen and what we foresee.”
With only one of Ohio State’s three starquarterbacks healthy right now, the volume has been muted about who will end up under center for the Sept. 7 opener at Virginia Tech.
Cardale Jones, who quarterbacked the three stirring wins to close out a 14-1 campaign, was taking first-team snaps Tuesday. Braxton Miller, the three-year starter heading into last season, is limited by shoulder surgery in August. J.T. Barrett, who led the way through last year’s regular season, was in uniform but is still recovering from a broken ankle.
The rest of the Buckeyes aren’t taking sides.
“I know we’ve got three good quarterbacks who can all play,” offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. “And whoever they throw in there, I know we’ll be fine. That’s for the coaches to figure out. I’ll just do my job.”
Miller did some stretching and lower-body conditioning, but didn’t throw. While Jones is clearly the No. 1 guy this spring, Miller and Barrett remained nearby and involved.
There was speculation after the season that Jones — coming off a big postseason as a third-year sophomore — would make himself available for the NFL draft. There was also talk that Miller, a two-time Big Ten player of the year and now a graduate student, would transfer to avoid the logjam at the position.
But none of those scenarios panned out. So the quarterback question figures to be an ongoing, and perhaps unwelcome, specter hovering over the Buckeyes.
Meyer said he has never discussed the possibility with Miller of playing another position. Same goes for Jones and Barrett, last year’s first-team All-Big Ten quarterback as a redshirt freshman.
“At some point there’ll be some (stress) because of the respect I have for those three guys,” Meyer said. “If I disliked one or two of them, it would not be that hard. That’s the only dilemma that I can see happening. But not right now.”
Currently, Meyer and his staff are most concerned with finding replacements for four graduated starters on each side of the ball. And also with maintaining the momentum from last season’s remarkable 13-game winning streak which culminated in a 42-20 victory over Oregon in major college football’s first playoff finale.
Last year’s success left its mark around the team’s practice facility.
There’s a giant picture of the 2014 squad in the team meeting room. Then there’s a huge image of the national championship trophy on a banner on the side of the indoor field. Also, a massive sign on the one end of the practice field that used to say “The Chase” has been replaced by one Meyer had made that says, “The Grind.”
“‘It’s what our program’s about,” linebacker Joshua Perry said of that motto. “You sharpen, you shape, you pulverize — it’s a lot of friction. So, we like that. That’s how you develop players and that’s how you get the best out of people.”
About 75 reporters and cameramen watched the first 45 minutes of the workout. All-American defensive end Joey Bosa sprinted from one drill to the next, his arms spread wide as if he were pretending he was flying down the field.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 696 yards in the last three games, wore a pink cast on his left wrist after postseason surgery.
Several other Buckeyes are still recovering from injuries: center Jacoby Boren (ankle), H-back Dontre Wilson (foot) and safety Tyvis Powell (wrist). An acclaimed recruit, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, injured his knee last week while playing basketball for St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.
Meyer’s biggest worry is complacency. He’s been through this twice before, winning BCS titles at Florida after the 2006 and 2008 seasons.
“We’re human beings, man,” said Meyer, 38-3 in three seasons at Ohio State. “I don’t think last year we had that sense around here at all. This year I’m watching it. I don’t feel it. If I do, we’d dive right into it.”
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.