April 21, 2009

Bauserman provides security for Buckeyes

It has been about a year since Joe Bauserman properly introduced himself to the Buckeye faithful, and things have certainly changed since then.

Bauserman was nothing more than an afterthought heading into Ohio State's spring game last year, especially with the returns of starting quarterback Todd Boeckman and youngster Antonio Henton, combined with the anticipation of the summer arrival of high school standout and No.1 prospect Terrelle Pryor.

Even though Bauserman seemed to most likely be stuck behind both Boeckman and Pryor, he showed everyone a little something on a 51-yard strike to Taurian Washington before finishing the day 7-for-14 with 125 yards.

After the game, Bauserman went from being rather unknown to the mystery man who could possibly have an immediate impact on the team.

This year things have changed.

While Pryor is undoubtedly the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, barring any injuries, Bauserman is the solid No. 2 guy who will certainly take a larger role on this year's squad.

"Right now I am just learning as much as I can to be ready for my opportunity if I ever get one," Bauserman said.

If anything could be learned from this year's spring practice for Bauserman, aside from the playbook and his new role as Ohio States solid No. 2 quarterback, it's that an opportunity is only one unfortunate play away.

Bauserman has already seen reps with the ones this spring because of soreness in Pryor's throwing arm, and though the injury wasn't anything to get worked up over, the backup must be ready to take the field at all times.

"I am just doing what I can right now to keep myself ready for anything," Bauserman said.

Because Bauserman pursued pitching in Minor League Baseball for three years as a career as an alternative to heading to Ohio State with the rest of the 2004 recruiting class, the quarterback has lost much time in terms of honing his football skills.

Now, Bauserman is getting his groove back with the most reps he has seen at Ohio State as the go-to backup quarterback. Instead, Bauserman is working with the black jersey in practice en route to become a viable option for the Buckeyes at quarterback.

"You don't get hit every day in practice, so that helps out," Bauserman joked.

Bauserman has done quite a bit in terms of impressing the coaching staff with his ability, using a solid spring to help the team grow confidence in his ability if Pryor were to go down.

While the obvious notion for the Buckeyes' coaching staff is to protect its most valuable offensive weapon in Pryor, perhaps one of the most important things to have on any successful team is a solid second team quarterback.

This year, Bauserman gives the Buckeyes just that.

"Joe is having a good spring, he really is," said quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano. "He has grown abundantly by knowledge of the playbook and he understands where to go with the football. He is an older guy, so it is important to him and he works at it.

"It is great to have Joe here," Siciliano added. "I feel like Joe could play for us tomorrow if he had to."

While the average backup may find it hard to sit behind the starter, Bauserman has handled his job in the same fashion as everyone else on the team - with pride.

Sitting behind Pryor certainly isn't the easiest role on the team, but Bauserman understands his position and role and is only concerned with helping the Buckeyes move in a positive direction.

"He is a great athlete and he is obviously the best fit for the team," Bauserman said.

When asked if he felt he could play more on another team, it wasn't a concern for Bauserman. All he was worried about was his role with the Buckeyes.

"You can do that with a lot of things, the 'what-ifs' and stuff," Bauserman said, "What if I stayed with baseball? What if I never came to Ohio State? It is a what-if game and you can't play those kinds of games with yourself."

Rumors were swirling during the off-season that Bauserman was contemplating transferring from Ohio State after Pryor got a grip on the starting position, but the backup said he was always going to stay a Buckeye.

"Honestly, I didn't even think about transferring or anything like that," Bauserman said. "I was just going to stay here, do what I can do, and get an education."

While playing a considerable amount during Ohio State's games may not seem like an option at this point, the Buckeyes did find a way to get both Boeckman and Pryor on the field at the same time last year in the loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.

Though Bauserman isn't holding his breath that is going to be a large part of the Buckeyes' game plan, the backup said he wouldn't mind seeing the field in that capacity.

"Anything can happen. It just depends on the game plan for that week or what the coaches want to do, and we will take it from there," Bauserman said.

For now, Bauserman may not be the starter. What he is, however, is a sense of security and confidence for the Buckeyes.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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