It has been a big period for Ohio State senior quarterback Kenny Guiton, who keeps showing he is more than a backup for Braxton Miller.
By now, Kenny Guiton doesn’t need his ego buffed.
Ohio State’s fifth-year senior “backup” quarterback has heard his head coach tell his story as a cautionary tale for other players: When your moment arrives, seize it.
But what Urban Meyer said in the days after Guiton made his first start — at Cal where he helped the Buckeyes deliver their finest offensive performance since Meyer took over last season — that took Guiton back a little bit.
“If you knew where he was in January a year and a half ago — I’m a parent, you go right to thinking — can you imagine being his parent right now, and how cool that would be,” Meyer said. “If you buy stock, buy stock in Kenny Guiton, because what he’s going to do after football some day, it’s going to be really neat.”
Guiton has played so well in nearly two full games for injured starter Braxton Miller that Meyer is forced to get him on the field this week against outmatched Florida A&M, even if Miller returns to the lineup.
“It’s another blessing,” Guiton said. “Coach Meyer saying that keeps me going.”
The way Guiton ended up in Columbus all the way from Aldine, Texas, makes you wonder about divine intervention. Then Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was trying to convince Tajh Boyd to play for the Buckeyes. Ultimately, Boyd chose Clemson.
Ohio State had a scholarship left in the 2009 recruiting class, and Tressel needed a quarterback. Guiton wasn’t a throw-in, but he also wasn’t the most recruited player in Texas, either.
He had offers from Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Rice and Prairie View A&M. Ohio State was his most substantial offer. Yes, that means Mack Brown, who is struggling to keep his job at Texas, overlooked an in-state prospect who is helping save the Buckeyes’ early season national championship hopes.
“I look at teams — and I don’t want to downgrade any quarterbacks in this nation — but I look at teams and think I could probably do something and play for that team,” Guiton said. “But I’m here, and I’m OK. I’m in my senior year having fun. I’m a leader and a captain. I don’t regret anything.”
Meyer is Guiton’s third head coach at Ohio State and co-offensive coordinator Tom Herman is his third coordinator and position coach.
About 18 months ago, Guiton wanted to be anywhere but Columbus.
“I’m not sure where I was (mentally) to tell you the truth,” Guiton said. “To be blunt about it, I had a childish mentality. I wasn’t much of a leader of the team. ... I kind of grew up and became a leader to lead the guys in the right way.”
Page 2 of 3 - Meyer had a brutally honest conversation with Guiton shortly after he was hired. Guiton could either get with the program, or spend his final two seasons moping around, or leave.
“Coach Meyer, he brought out the best in me,” Guiton said. “He knows how to bring out the best in his players and he definitely helped me.”
Meyer came to Columbus with a bit of a leather-skinned, rough-neck attitude. He wanted to get his players’ attention.
He had it during workouts at 5 in the morning designed to test their will.
“It was shocking at first,” Guiton said. “You don’t know who’s coming to be your head coach. After a while, everyone caught on and everyone knew why he was doing it: to get the best out of his players. It worked. Look at his résumé. We have to follow his plan and we’ll be OK.”
Ask most of the offensive players and they almost all say the same things about their two quarterbacks.
They have confidence in both. Both throw the ball well.
“Kenny is probably a little more patient in the pocket than Braxton is,” receiver Devin Smith said.
Miller runs the ball better, is a little quicker and much more shifty. Guiton runs the option on the edge of the offense like a surgeon.
Guiton and Miller get along fine off the field. Guiton, two years older and more experienced, reads defenses almost as well as Herman. Miller is learning that. Last week against Cal, Guiton understood the first two plays.
The first play was a bubble screen to Chris Fields, which Smith stayed in and blocked on. The next play, was a play-action bubble screen fake that Corey Brown sold, and Smith ran past Cal’s defense.
Guiton knew where he was going with the ball as it was snapped, and hit Smith with a 90-yard touchdown pass.
When his night was over, Guiton threw for 276 yards and ran for 92. His 368 yards were 44 away from Art Schlichter’s team record of 412 against Florida State in 1981. He was named the national offensive player of the week and the Big Ten’s player of the week.
Guiton came back to earth, literally, about 5:30 Sunday morning when the team’s plane landed. Later that day, he picked up the phone and called his parents.
“It’s unexplainable,” Guiton said. “I talked to them for at least two hours on the phone. We have a big family, and with me coming way up here, they don’t get to a chance to make it to too many games. Just hearing their voice and how loud they were screaming ... it’s a great feeling in my body.”
Miller still is Ohio State’s starting quarterback. There is no controversy. But Guiton is closer to the huddle than he’s ever been.
Page 3 of 3 - Meyer has two quarterbacks. Both are captains. The old saying is, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.
Maybe the Buckeyes do have two. It’s a luxury, not a problem.
“I think it would be (a problem) if there were personality conflicts,” Meyer said. “If there were agendas. There’s none here. I don’t think there’s any confusion.”
Reach Todd at 330-580-8340 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @tporterREP