QB Baldwin To Leave OSU

Ohio State's coach Ryan Day watches as quarterback Matthew Baldwin looks to pas during the spring NCAA college football game at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday April 13, 2019. (Brooke LaValley/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Matthew Baldwin, the Ohio State quarterback who was expected to back up the highly touted Justin Fields this fall, said he intends to transfer.

The redshirt freshman released a statement on Twitter on Thursday saying he feels it would be better for him to move on after his first productive spring practice since rehabbing from a knee injury.

“At the same time, spring was a tough time for me personally,” he said in the Twitter post. “My family and I have prayed a lot and talked a lot about where I belong and what it best for me. I want everyone to know this isn’t done out of anger or frustration, but I’m not just a football player.”

Baldwin competed in spring practice with Fields, who transferred to Ohio State after Ryan Day was named successor to the retiring Urban Meyer and it became clear that star quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. would leave early for the NFL.

Baldwin, from Austin, Texas, in his statement thanked Day, who had personally recruited him when Day was Meyer’s quarterbacks coach.

But Fields, who transferred to Ohio State after backing up Jake Fromm as Georgia last season, was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2018 and is widely seen as a perfect fit for Day’s offense and a future NFL quarterback.

Baldwin is the second Ohio State quarterback to transfer since coach Day persuaded Fields to transfer to join the Buckeyes. Tate Martell, who was the backup to Haskins last season, left Ohio State and quickly joined Miami.

Graduate transfer Chris Chugunov is the only backup QB on the roster now, but Day could pick up another graduate transfer this summer as insurance.

BIG TEN PLAYERS TO WATCH

EAST DIVISION

OHIO STATE

WR Garrett Wilson, freshman. The early enrollee impressed with his maturity and appears to have the makings of a star. Wilson created buzz in the spring game when he out-jumped a defensive back for a long touchdown catch. There are a number of receivers ahead of Wilson, but it might not take long for this five-star recruit to emerge.

PENN STATE

S Lamont Wade, junior. The Nittany Lions need to find a replacement for Nick Scott, and Wade is among the top candidates after playing a reserve role his first two years. He showed up in Happy Valley as a four-star recruit at cornerback but was moved to safety before his sophomore year.

INDIANA

WRs Nick Westbrook and Donovan Hale, seniors. Westbrook, who missed 2017 with an ACL tear, showed glimpses of his pre-injury talent last season but not the gaudy numbers. Hale emerged as a legitimate go-to receiver. Together, the 6-foot-3 Westbrook and 6-4 Hale should give Indiana one of the Big Ten’s most physical receiving tandems.

MARYLAND

RB Anthony McFarland, sophomore. He started five games as a freshman yet still managed to top the 1,000-yard mark. He raised eyebrows around the Big Ten after running for 298 yards against Ohio State. Now he’s poised to become one of the league’s dominant backs.

MICHIGAN

CB Ambry Thomas, junior. His career highlight is returning a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Notre Dame. Now he gets his opportunity at corner, where he was a four-star recruit and one of the nation’s top prospects in 2016. He’ll play opposite high school teammate Lavert Hill.

MICHIGAN STATE

S Xavier Henderson, sophomore. He’s the heir apparent to the starting strong safety job. Henderson was the Spartans’ only true freshman to play in all 13 games, mostly at nickelback on third downs. He’s looking to build on a season in which he made 15 tackles, recovered a fumble and excelled on special teams.

RUTGERS

RB Isaih Pacheco, sophomore. Playing in Raheem Blackshear’s shadow, Pacheco had 551 yards on 111 carries and scored three touchdowns. If Blackshear splits time in the slot and at running back, Pacheco will see increasing opportunities for an offense looking to improve its No. 106 ranking in rushing.

WEST DIVISION

ILLINOIS

OL Verdis Brown, redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder is switching to the offensive line after spending his first season as a redshirt on the defensive line. The Chicago native was a four-star offensive line recruit, and he had offers from a bevy of major programs. His move to the O-line, where he’s projected to be a guard, is a boost for an area always lacking depth.

IOWA

LB Dillon Doyle, redshirt freshman. The Iowa City native performed well enough this spring to challenge for a spot in the linebacker rotation. He appeared in four games last season, preserving his redshirt, and had two tackles while playing mostly on special teams.

MINNESOTA

LB Thomas Rush, sophomore. He played running back in high school, so it has taken him some time to get a feel for playing on the other side of the ball. He saw spot duty backing up MLB Thomas Barber last season, but there’s a starting spot open on the outside with the departures of Blake Cashman and Julian Huff.

NEBRASKA

WR Andre Hunt, redshirt freshman. The Huskers are looking for a complement to JD Spielman in the wake of Stanley Morgan Jr.’s departure, and Hunt could be the guy. He struggled with focus and was prone to drops last season. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters says Hunt was the most consistent pass-catcher this spring.

NORTHWESTERN

CB Cam Ruiz, sophomore. Ruiz was a solid backup to Montre Hartage last season and is ready to take a leadership role. He got a good amount of experience because of injuries in the secondary and made 26 tackles, broke up four passes, forced a fumble and recovered one.

PURDUE

DT Lorenzo Neal, senior. Yes, Markus Bailey led the Boilermakers in tackles last season. And, yes, Purdue will still have a wide-open offense. If the Boilermakers want to contend for a title, they can’t continue to give up 450 yards and 30 points a game. That means they need more out of the 315-pound Neal up front.

WISCONSIN

LB Leo Chenal, freshman. The 2018 Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year has been a playmaker all spring, meriting his promotion to No. 2 inside linebacker. At 6-2, 239 pounds, he appears physically ready. In three open practices, he picked off two passes and returned one for a touchdown.

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