On Monday, news broke that Ohio State QB Joe Burrow, a formerly coveted recruit, would be transferring:
After weeks of struggling with this decision, I have decided to leave Ohio State and explore other options. My teammates and coaches all know the love I feel for them. I will decide where I will play next year in the coming weeks.— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) May 8, 2018
Burrow, an attrition candidate for much of the offseason, particularly since Dwayne Haskins, a Sophomore, emerged as Ohio State’s leading candidate for the QB job and the Buckeyes welcomed five-star Tate Martell in 2017 and four-star Matthew Baldwin in the 2018 signing class, is a talented QB in his own right. Ross Dellenger reports LSU is granted access to speak to Burrow, though it’s unclear to me why permission need be given to a graduate transfer.
The former composite four-star was ranked as the 8th overall Dual-threat QB and 280th overall prospect in the 2015 signing class. Lowell Narcisse, by comparison ranked as the 9th overall dual threat QB and the 261st overall prospect in the 2017 signing class. Take a gander at his senior highlights:
It’s pretty easy to see what there is to like about Burrow just from these clips. He’s a big QB, standing at 6-3 and LSU wouldn’t even need to deal with the growing pains of adding necessary muscle to his body, as they currently are with Myles Brennan. He’s now a fully formed 215 pounds and ready to play. Physically, I don’t see limitations. He’s athletic as hell and can extend plays regularly. He’s got a damn strong arm and even shows some serious touch on a lot of his throws. He can complete deep outs. He’s strong and tough. He won Ohio Mr. Football. He was first team All-State in high school. He turned in the best spring game performance of any of the Ohio State QBs.
So... what gives? Why would a QB of this caliber get passed up by a RS Freshman? There’s a few explanations. Perhaps Haskins is that good? Remember, LSU, and everyone else, heavily recruited him before he signed with Ohio State. Perhaps he doesn’t fit the offense Ohio State wants to run? It’s one thing to project a recruit into your system, it’s an entirely different thing to make that a reality.
What makes Burrow appealing to LSU? He’s developed. He’s a veteran. And perhaps most of all, he’s a graduate transfer with two years remaining of eligibility. This is key as Orgeron routinely emphasizes the interest in adding a graduate QB to the mix for this offseason. Not only does LSU need the depth, they need someone that could potentially challenge the QB room. Burrow definitely presents that option. While spring games are meaningless, and they reveal little about where the team actually stands, it’s clear that LSU doesn’t yet have a clear cut QB leader. The hope is obviously for Myles Brennan to be that guy. All the writing on the wall suggests the offense being bit is tailored to Brennan’s skills. It’s a passing offense with an emphasis on receiver play, underscored by hiring a legendary old veteran receiver coach.
And yet, Brennan showed poorest during the Spring Game. He showed flashes, for sure, but you can also see what may have the staff second guessing pulling the trigger on naming him the starter. Depth is a concern and keeping Justin McMillan on the roster will remain important to this staff until there’s another capable QB added to the mix. That doesn’t mean McMillan doesn’t have a legitimate shot to win the starting job, only that LSU cannot afford to lose any QB on the roster and he’s the most likely attrition candidate based on his historical standing on the depth chart.
Burrow gives you the ability to bridge that gap and perhaps do it well. McMillan brings the veteran leadership, but he may not have the physical tools to deliver a competent offense. Brennan/Narcisse are breaking new ground. Enter Burrow, a physically capable, veteran QB.
So this should be a slam dunk right? There’s risk too. Signing Burrow may discourage Brennan or Narcisse, or worse yet, both of them. Burrow probably helps in the short term, but does he hurt in the long term? Does he impede the development of either of the young QBs? Does he incite a transfer himself? If Burrow shows up and either Brennan or Narcisse leave, LSU is right back into a similar depth issue heading into next season.
Decisions like this are program-defining decisions. If the staff decides to pass on Burrow and he goes to Florida and stars, while they struggle with a new QB, it will be egg on their faces. If the staff takes Burrow and he flops and creates an issue with the young QBs, it’s equally as damning. So Orgeron and staff must tread lightly.
But frankly, it’s time we quit with the kid’s gloves treatments of quarterbacks in Baton Rouge. We suffered a near decade of QB roster mismanagement under Miles where young players were routinely thrown to the wolves, then treated delicately despite failing miserably time and time again. Orgeron preaches competition up and down the roster. If everyone must compete, no position can be exempt. Treat the quarterbacks like you treat your right tackles. Treat them like you treat your outside linebackers. Play well or someone else will take your spot. Perform or find the bench. There’s no reason the QB should fail upward. We have evidence of how to break this mold from the greatest coach in college football history, benching his near two-year starter for a talented freshman in the National Championship Game. Hell, half the debate was that Saban may have waited too long to make the decision. Regardless of timing, Saban didn’t take into consideration scarring a player’s ego. Jalen Hurts couldn’t get the job done, so he found the bench while someone else got the opportunity to prove he could.
So if it were up to me, yes you sign Joe Burrow. If Brennan and Narcisse don’t like it, they then should be challenged to do something about it. Get better. Improve your game. Work harder. Don’t let Burrow beat you out. Compete. Compete. Compete.