Senior Joe Bauserman will likely be the starter when Ohio State opens the season, but a crop of young talent will push him for the job.
Now that Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor has made it official that he will not return to Columbus for his senior season amid scandal and NCAA investigation, the Buckeyes have to answer this question: who will replace Pryor under center?
Although Pryor's career at OSU is widely regarded as a disappointment because he never actualized his full potential after coming to Columbus as the nation's top high school prospect in 2008, he was still 31-4 as a starter for the Buckeyes, and his career stats rank among the best in school history at the position.
Putting all of the character issues and off-field problems that he brought OSU and former coach Jim Tressel aside, Pryor was one of the most prolific signal callers ever to don the Scarlet and Gray.
With Pryor at the helm, Ohio State won at least a share of the Big Ten title in each of his three seasons, and the Jeanette, Pa., native led the Bucks to two BCS victories—a Rose Bowl win over Oregon in 2010 and a Sugar Bowl triumph over Arkansas this past January—and was named the MVP of both contests.
Pryor leaves town tied for first in school history in touchdown passes (57), fifth in career passing yards (6,177), and first in rushing yards by a quarterback (8,341). That kind of productivity is rare, and returning quarterbacks Joe Bauserman, Taylor Graham, Ken Guiton and Braxton Miller face the daunting task of replacing the now infamous No. 2 at the helm of the offense.
All four of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown in April's spring game, but Bauserman has the best chance of being the Buckeyes' starter come Sept. 1 when OSU opens to season against Ohio. In three seasons as a reserve in Columbus, Bauserman has thrown 55 passes and recorded 320 yards to go along with two touchdowns, both of which came in 2010.
While Bauserman makes the most sense to replace Pryor immediately, Ohio State will definitely be looking to groom a quarterback of the future to become to Buckeyes' long-term starter. With two sophomores and two freshman behind Bauserman, there is plenty of young talent on the roster to compete for starting job.
Of three young guns in the running to take the reigns from Bauserman, true freshman Braxton Miller would appear to be the favorite early on. Miller, a 4-star recruit and Under Armour All-American out of Huber Heights, Ohio, played well in the spring and has the potential to develop into a star for the Buckeyes.
Miller is a dual-threat passer who ESPN's Tom Luginbill likened to a young Troy Smith, who was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 2006 at OSU.
Taylor Graham did not attempt a pass in his freshman year, and Kenny Guiton only threw two in his first season. Graham is a 6'3" pocket passer while Guiton is closer to the Miller dual-threat mold.
After all of the scandal and turmoil that has ravaged the Buckeyes since the "Tattoo Gate" scandal was reported in December of 2010, the focus for Ohio State will now switch to the field, with the spotlight squarely on this quarterback competition.
The Buckeyes still have plenty of talent, but they will need someone to step up as the new field general if they hope to contend for the Big Ten title in a revamped conference that now includes traditional Big 12 powerhouse Nebraska.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, they will need someone to step up sooner rather than later, as they travel to Miami on Sept. 17 in Week 3, with Michigan State and Nebraska waiting in Weeks 5 and 6.
The Post-Pryor era has officially begun in Columbus. Let the competition commence.