The seemingly daily plot twists in the Ohio State quarterback saga continued on Thursday, with once-highly recruited and presumed starter-in-waiting Tate Martell entering the transfer protocol, according to multiple reports.
The move allows Martell, a redshirt freshman who was the national high school player of the year in 2016, to listen to other programs about their interest in his potential transfer, but it does not guarantee he will leave Columbus.
The reported move comes less than a week after Georgia true freshman quarterback Justin Fields announced he intends to transfer to the Buckeyes. Fields was one of the top two recruits in the nation in the Class of 2018 (the other being Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence) but could not get much playing time in Athens behind starter Jake Fromm.
Fields is reportedly petitioning the NCAA for a waiver that would allow him to play next season rather than sitting out a year, as is required by NCAA transfer rules.
Part of Fields' reasoning for choosing Ohio State is the opening created by the departure of 2018 starter Dwayne Haskins. The third-place finisher in Heisman Trophy voting, Haskins announced Monday that he will leave school early and enter the NFL draft.
Martell completed 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 128 yards and a pair of scores while backing up Haskins in 2018.
Prior to the Rose Bowl, in which Ohio State beat Washington 28-23, Tate addressed the possibility of a transfer like Fields coming in and competing for the Buckeyes' starting job, especially should Haskins leave for the NFL.
"Why would I leave for someone who hasn't put a single second into this program yet?" Martell told the media at the time. "I've put two years of working my ass off for something that I've been waiting for and dreaming of having my whole life.
"There's no doubt, I know I wasn't ready my freshman year, but two years of waiting around and having to compete with guys like Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and J.T. Barrett, I know that I'm an elite quarterback. When I get my chance I will run the offense at a very high level."
"I want to play for Ohio State," Martell continued. "It's been my dream since I was born to play for Ohio State, and I'm not just going to walk away from something that I've put so much time into and there's not a chance that I won't go out there and compete and fight for my job."
If Martell does transfer, he would have to sit out the 2019 season unless granted a waiver. He currently has three seasons of eligibility remaining. Multiple reports have listed Miami and West Virginia as possible landing spots for Martell, should he transfer.