April 27, 2010

Guiton makes backup QB race interesting

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Kenny Guiton laid on his back clutching his facemask and was in obvious pain in his own end zone with less than 30 seconds remaining in Saturday's annual spring game in Ohio Stadium.

Guiton took a helmet on the right knee from defensive end Keith Wells just moments before in what could have resulted in a serious knee injury. For a minute, over 60,000 fans were certain that's what had happened.

The redshirt freshman quarterback, however, walked off the field under his own power just a minute or two later as perhaps the most impressive performer in the spring game.

Nothing - not even a major injury scare - could ruin the day Guiton had as the starting quarterback for the Gray team.

"There was a lot of pain," Guiton said of the injury after the game. "The initial reaction was that I really hurt and I was scared for a second. But I got up and everything was cool."

Aside from the slight scare, everything had worked out the way Guiton had hoped it would. Just moments before the injury, the freshman stepped up and threw a 45-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Taurian Washington in the final minute of the game, propelling his Gray squad to a 17-14 win in the spring game.

Guiton was chosen as the second overall quarterback in the spring game draft and he proved the decision was a good one for the seniors who selected him, finishing 11-for-21 passing for 167 yards and two touchdown passes.

For the most part, Guiton looked comfortable in the pocket and seemed to be finding his receivers on a consistent, accurate basis. Guiton acknowledged after the game that he noticed plenty of things he could have done better, but flashes of what he could provide for this in the future were certainly shown.

"He looked awesome. He's a great quarterback," offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said of Guiton after the game. "I watched his high school film before he even came here and knew he would be amazing on the field someday. I don't think anyone gave him enough credit and he proved himself out there."

In his first real performance in front of the Buckeye faithful, Guiton opened some eyes. The freshman acknowledged that he probably couldn't have hoped for a better personal performance, especially given he had thrown no interceptions.

"It was everything I had hoped for," Guiton said. "It came down to the last drive and I came through, so it was a good day.

"It means a lot to knowing (I was the second quarterback drafted) because the seniors got to pick the draft," he added. "It was a lot of respect and with the seniors know that I have their respect and their push for me (is great)."

Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor was limited to just two series on Saturday, thus giving Guiton and returning backup quarterback Joe Bauserman ample time to play.

Guiton spent all of spring practice working as the third string quarterback and Bauserman is currently viewed as the favorite to pick up another season as the No. 2 quarterback on the Buckeye roster.

On Saturday, though, Guiton proved there will be a battle for the backup spot behind Pryor come the fall. His teammates have noticed that, too.

"I think he did a great job," Washington said. "Him and Joe Bauserman are both great quarterbacks and who ever they decide to put in, I think they'll do well."

Added Guiton: "I'm hoping (I proved something), but that's no something I can answer. That's on the coaches, but I'm definitely hoping (to be in the battle)."

Given the way Guiton arrived in Columbus, its no wonder he was previously an afterthought. Guiton was the last member of 2009 recruiting to sign and was thought of as merely a throw-in player after the Buckeyes lost out on quarterback prospect Tajh Boyd, who committed to Clemson.

Guiton was rated as a 3-star prospect by Rivals and may have ended up at Prairie View A&M had the Buckeyes not come through with the late scholarship offer.

Known as a dual-threat quarterback coming out of college, Guiton said he has already seen a vast improvement in his game, particularly in his throwing motion.

"I have grown a whole lot better since high school. I feel a lot more comfortable," said Guiton, who attended high school at Houston Eisenhower. "Right now I feel like my motion is coming through a lot better. In high school I was more of a side-arm and I now I am getting a lot better."

The best still may be yet to come for Guiton, but in the matter of just days he has gone from the little-known quarterback to a guy who could be one snap away from being the Buckeyes starting quarterback.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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