Virginia Cavaliers football fans are no strangers to finding diamonds hidden on other teams at UVA. Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney famously came to Charlottesville on a lacrosse scholarship. And just this week, former UVA track commitment Brenton Nelson was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Could another one be coming soon to a Scott Stadium near you?
Joey Baughman is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback out of Wadsworth, Ohio. He led his Grizzlies to a 10-0 regular-season record in 2017, the school’s first undefeated season in 20 years. En route to a second-round exit from the Ohio state playoffs, Baughman compiled more than 3,000 yards passing, 1,500 rushing, and a combined 56 touchdowns—36 through the air and 20 more on the ground.
On Wednesday, he was named Ohio’s Mr. Football, selected annually by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. Previous winners of the award include Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, Heisman winner Charles Woodson, and two-time Pro Bowl running back Robert Smith.
And—along with fellow dual-threat Ohioan Brennan Armstrong—Baughman will be on Grounds in 2018.
A two-time state runner-up, Baughman committed to Steve Garland and the UVA wrestling program over offers from UNC and Oregon State, as well as his home-state Buckeyes.
You watch Baughman’s tape and you see a lot of things a college coach running an up-tempo, spread-to-run system might like. As a runner, Baughman is hard-nosed and doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s fast enough to mess with defenders’ pursuit angles, and he’s elusive enough to slip tackles that aren’t squared up.
As a thrower, though, you see why his offer sheet was schools like Tiffin and Saginaw Valley State instead of FBS programs. (Contrast that with Nelson, who came to Virginia with football offers from Power Five programs like Louisville and Kentucky, with Michigan State and Wisconsin also hot on his trail.) Baughman has nice touch to lay balls into wide open passing windows created by coverage busts or well-schemed route combinations. But there isn’t much zip to go into tighter windows that you’d expect in upper-level college competition.
Success in Charlottesville for Baughman is more likely to come on the mat and in the gym for Coach Garland than on the gridiron for Coach Mendenhall. But if someday the football itch came back for “Joey Football,” he might just be able to earn a pair of shoulder pads with his name on them.