The 2007 quarterbacks, Part Three: Antonio Henton
Antonio Henton, Redshirt freshman
6'2" 210 pounds
Henton will enter camp as the fan favorite to get the job, despite the fact that the vast majority of Ohio State fans, much like myself, have never actually seen him play in person. However, Henton's high school film has more than made the rounds at various internet message boards, and what most people see when they watch his highlights is potentially the next Troy Smith. Much like Smith, Henton is a pass-first quarterback that has the ability to scramble when needed. However, Henton is a tad taller than Smith (6-2 to Smith's 6-0), which leads many to the assumption that he will not suffer from Smith's recurring problem of seeing over the line and having passes knocked down by defensive tackles. Henton posts a 4.65 forty time, which may seem slow, by watching his film it is quite apparent that his so-called "game speed" is much faster. By game speed, I am referring to his ability to run in pads while also making cuts, and not necessarily in a straight line, either. Also, I do believe that the adrenaline rush experienced during a football game is much greater than one forty yard sprint, which definitely plays a big role in it all. As a high schooler, his impact on his team was unparalleled. Henton missed the first three games of the season, all of which were losses, then he came back and the team won every single game for the rest of the year until the state-title game. Obviously, how this will play out in college remains to be seen, but from what limited evidence we have, this guy appears to bring wins with him wherever he goes, which is never a bad thing.
Of the three quarterbacks, Henton lacks experience the most, having redshirted his only season thus far. And, as everyone this side of Colt McCoy knows, inexperience kills when it comes to starting quarterbacks. Very few quarterbacks have success on a consistent (key word being consistent) basis at any level of play when being thrust into the starting role, especially one at a place of high expectations such as OSU. In fact, if he is put into the starting role next season, the only direction he can go is downwards. The fans that I have talked to personally that want Henton to be the starter next season expect him to be the second coming of Troy Smith. As a matter of fact, I remember recently reading a piece about Henton (it may have been somewhere in the blogosphere I can't remember), and the author said something along the lines of "The next Troy Smith? Or the first Antonio Henton?" with an incredibly optimistic tone, as if to say he'll blossom into something more than Troy. Giving these expectations to a kid that is yet to hit his 20th birthday is only going to set him up for failure. He will try to make throws that redshirt freshmen don't make, and as the mistakes pile up, his confidence very well could be shattered before he even gets a chance to mature. Granted, the kid is going to have to learn to deal with adversity at some point, but it's best that he does it in situations that don't jeopardize the team's record, or perhaps even as a sophomore, when he will have another year under his belt to mature a tad.
Speaking of maturity, another thing that really bothers me about Antonio at this point is his attitude. Sure, he seems to have exceptional work ethic, and has done all the right things in practice to impress the coaches thus far, but if his comments in the Dispatch are any sign of this kid's humility, then he clearly has a long way to go when it comes to understanding Tressel's philosophy as a coach:
"I think our style is very, very the same," he said. "I think he’s a little bit better passer than me right now, but during the offseason, I’m going to be in the weight room hard, and try to get my arm strength to where his is at."
No, not that quote. That was Tressel-talk at it's finest. This is what I'm talking about:
"I think if I win the job and I have four years (to start), there’s no doubt that I (will) be the next Heisman winner at Ohio State," he said. "That’s right, no doubt,"Okay, Antonio, I'm sure you've already got a talking-to from the Sweatervest about that, but I'll just throw in my two cents on it: I don't care if you've been on the team for 1 year or 100 years, you do not, under any circumstances, ever say that. Ever. I might cut some slack to someone who, you know, has played a down or two at the collegiate level, or is even a preseason Heisman candidate, but a redshirt freshman? You have got to be kidding me, Antonio. Watching Troy Smith must have jaded his views on what things are easy to achieve, and what things are difficult. Not counting walk-ons, there are 10,115 Division I college football players, and only one of them will win the Heisman. I hate to break it to you, Antonio, but the odds aren't in your favor, so you better keep your mouth closed and do what your coaches tell you.
The Bottom Line:
Henton's potential is unlimited, that is undeniable. However, potential doesn't become unleashed over one night, or even one season. It takes time. It took Troy Smith 5 years to fulfill his potential, and he's still capable of more, as the National Championship showed us all. We're going to see plenty of good out of Henton this upcoming season, and probably just as much bad as well. He'll get his fair share of opportunities, and will be used in situations when his legs are needed, but when push comes to shove, is there really any doubt as to who the coaches will choose to lead the team on that last-ditch effort to win the game; the mature, seasoned Boeckman, or the raw Henton? I really hope I'm wrong about Henton, if only because there's nothing better than a person overcoming his doubters to achieve true success. However, it won't happen this season, and we may not even see it until (heaven forbid) his senior year. We'll have to be patient with Henton, and his time will come. Just not yet.