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No more drama at QB, but Urban Meyer would welcome a competition

With J.T. Barrett healthy, the Ohio State quarterback job is his to lose this season. AP Photo/Steve Helber

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maybe there’s a small part of Urban Meyer that misses the controversy. Perhaps the Ohio State coach really does believe there’s no such thing as having too many talented quarterbacks on his roster.

Either way, Meyer clearly isn’t content to settle into complacency now that there is no back-and-forth battle for the starting job and a pretty stable depth chart at the most important position on the field appears to have actually emerged.

If anything, there actually seemed to be a part of Meyer looking for a bit more competition, even after spending all of last year essentially watching a nonstop soap opera unfold as he managed Ohio State’s circus behind center.

"Don’t worry about what I would enjoy," Meyer joked after practice on Tuesday morning. "I wish we had four quarterbacks that I got to choose from."

Meyer still has options at his disposal, and the arrival of touted recruit Dwayne Haskins this summer will give him his desired number of talented passers to evaluate by the time training camp rolls around in August.

But there is really not much uncertainty about Ohio State’s quarterbacks as Meyer prepares for his fifth season with the program, which is obviously a far cry from the situation he had a year ago.

There might not have been all that much drama last spring, either, when Cardale Jones was the only truly healthy candidate available to take the first-team reps. But at that point, there was still speculation about Braxton Miller's future and the early stages of the debate between Jones and J.T. Barrett was playing out as the latter worked his way back from the fractured ankle he suffered at the end of his breakout freshman campaign.

Eventually all the attention, the indecisive moments, the rotation and perhaps the pressure on the players themselves took a toll, and just about everybody involved admitted in some fashion that they would have preferred the process had played out differently. But that shouldn’t be a problem for the Buckeyes now, not with Barrett returning full of confidence, completely healthy and clearly entrenched as the starter heading into his junior campaign.

The spots behind him aren’t exactly nailed down, though Joe Burrow appears to have taken control of the backup job ahead of Stephen Collier, with Haskins likely destined for a redshirt this fall, assuming everything goes as planned. But nothing that happened in 2015 would cause Meyer to shy away from staging another heated race to lead his offense anyway, because the memory of the season before that and how crucial depth at the position turned out to be will always be in his mind.

"It’s college football, and everybody learned a big-time lesson a couple years ago when Ohio State quarterback won a national title with their No. 3 signal caller," Meyer said. "And we all know who the No. 4 was, right? [Wide receiver] Jalin Marshall. ... You need four just in case.

"There are plenty of stories across the country when all of a sudden the third guy or the fourth guy is not ready, then the whole program falls apart."

The Buckeyes don’t appear to have much risk of that happening any time soon, given the premium they have placed on recruiting elite quarterbacks and what looks to be a stockpile that should guide them through the next few seasons under Meyer.

Right now, a pecking order appears to be clearly taking shape and falling in line behind Barrett. Though Meyer might well prefer if it wasn’t so obvious who was leading the way, there are obviously plenty of benefits to scaling back the entertainment value as well.

"[Barrett] is invaluable," Meyer said. "He’s a leader in the weight room and in the offseason, that’s why we named him a captain immediately after the season, because his value is so much more than running and throwing.

"His value is, he’s one of the best leaders we’ve ever had."

But if one of those backups want to chase him down and make putting the depth chart together a bit more difficult, Meyer certainly isn’t going to complain.