Sunday, January 21, 2007

Behind Door #2: Rob Schoenhoft

I continue my look at the new Ohio State quarterbacks with part two of a three part series. Last week, I took a look at Todd Boeckman, and today is my "inspection" of redshirt sophomore-to-be Rob Schoenhoft.

Rob Schoenhoft, Redshirt Sophomore
6'6" 240 pounds
Career Stats:
1-1 5 yards

Schoenhoft will enter the 2007 as the least-known of the three quarterbacks in the eyes of the fans. While that may appear to be a negative trait, it puts him in as much of a low-pressure situation that an Ohio State quarterback could possibly be in. He won't be expected to manage the game like Boeckman, and he won't be expected to spark the offense like Henton. Despite the low expectations, he should be able to do a mix of both of those things. Although he won't be in his fifth year with the program, he has spent a year under a redshirt, and also has an additional season of experience on top of that, which should prove to be just plenty in the long run.

Standing at 6'6'' and 240 pounds, Robby might as well be a tight end playing quarterback. As a matter of fact, Schoenhoft's high school coach is even on record as saying that Robby would be a premier tight end prospect if it weren't for his quarterbacking abilities. Despite his size, however, Schoenhoft is no slouch at running with the ball, either. He is extremely capable of scrambling for yards if need be, and his running style has actually been compared to that of Craig Krenzel, which isn'although it isn't anything worth writing home about, I think we all remember the numerous times Krenzel's legs have saved the offense when a play breaks down. As far as his arm is concerned, Schoenhoft's is arguably the strongest of the three candidates, which is evidenced by the following quote from his old high school quote (courtesy of Rivals):

"I haven't seen quarterback with a stronger arm. We actually have to make him ease off so his receivers can catch the ball."

That is incredibly impressive considering that Schoenhoft didn't play for any regular suburban team with average talent. For those of you unfamiliar with Ohio high school football, Cincinnati St. Xavier (Schoenhoft's high school) is year-in and year-out one of the most talented teams in the state, and is annually in the mix for the state title. Now I'm sure he doesn't have a Brett Favre-like supernatural arm, but having to ease off of some of the best wide receivers in the state is pretty praiseworthy in my book.

One area other than arm strength that especially works in Schoenhoft's favor as he's battling for a spot this offseason is that he is a student of the game. Various reports (again, these are just reports, nothing that I can attest to personally) have stated that the coaching staff has been quite impressed with his ability to quickly grasp the offense in his short time here, and also for his ability to take command in the huddle. Although much of that may just be the coaches' way of praising him publicly and may not have much of an effect when things get serious, it's not everyday that you hear those kinds of things getting said by a kid who has only thrown one competitive collegiate pass.

Rob Schoenhoft was also an excellent basketball player in High School, leading his team to the state finals his senior year, another testament to his athleticism.

Perhaps the biggest negative at the moment is that at the moment he is all-upside, with no legitimate playing time to at least show off his abilities. Every judgment being made of Schoenhoft is purely based off of what he did in High School and what members of the media are saying about him. At this moment, we really don't have any choice except to believe what they are saying until the Spring game rolls around, then he can show what he is capable of when playing with (and against) numerous other legitimate starters. His performance in last year's spring game gave me the initial impression that he would be a long-term project at quarterback (9-28, 109 yards and one interception), but after watching more closely, it was apparent that his offensive line was much inferior to the opposing defensive line, as he was given almost no time whatsoever to throw the ball. Also considering that he had Beanie Wells on his team, so when he [Wells] wasn't getting handoffs, it was usually the offensive coaches experimenting with play-action, which gave him even less time to throw. His scrambling ability was apparent, but it clearly wasn't enough with the lack of protection/time.

Of course, there is still the ever-present problem of finding that quarterback who seems to have that so-called "it" factor of leading the team to victory in tight games. Just like with Boeckman, we won't know with Schoenhoft until he gets just as many opportunities in close games as Boeckman and Henton do. I'm positive that one of these three guys has "it," just because it would be totally uncharacteristic of Tressel and Co. to recruit three guys who don't have it, and have them all on the roster at once. As of this moment, it appears to me that that guy very well may be Schoenhoft, but no one will know until he, and not Boeckman or Beanie, is asked to win a game all by himself.

I'll come out and say it right now: Rob Schoenhoft is the guy I'll be rooting for to become the next starting quarterback at the Ohio State University. And although Boeckman will be given the first chance, and the fans will put the pressure on the coaches to play Henton, just from reading about Schoenhoft and watching him play in limited action (spring game), if he can maximize his potential, we'll have a guy with Hoying's arm, Krenzel's smarts and mobility, and Smith's killer instinct. Of course, only time will tell if he has any of those things, but I feel his style definitely makes him the right guy for this team (remember, we lost our four biggest offensive playmakers in Smith, Ginn, Gonzo, and Pittman; things are going to be much more 2002-ish than 2006-ish). He won't come in and wow us all immediately, and may take a year of seasoning, but in what I expect to be a rebuilding season anyways, we might as well see what we're getting out of this guy.

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