Soft-spoken OSU quarterback is ‘Most Valuable’ off field, too

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A national championship is about all that eluded quarterback Joe Germaine during his college football career at Ohio State University.

After two seasons as the Buckeyes' backup, Germaine, a member of the Columbus University 1st Ward, Columbus Ohio Stake, took over as the starter in 1998. He led the team to an 11-1 record and No. 2 national ranking in the major polls.

Among the individual honors he received were 1998 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, selected by the conference's coaches, and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, given to the conference's most valuable player.

The past campaign marked the first time since 1968 that the Buckeyes beat Michigan and won a New Year's Day bowl game in the season. Germaine completed 21 of 38 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown to contribute to OSU's 24-14 win over Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans.

In the 1996 Rose Bowl, he was named the game's most outstanding player after leading the Buckeyes on a game-winning, last-minute touchdown drive.

Germaine will remain active on the college gridiron a bit longer. He will quarterback the East squad in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 16 in Palo Alto, Calif., and quarterback the North squad in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 23 in Mobile, Ala.

Then his goal is to move on to the NFL where he is expected to be among the top quarterbacks selected in the April draft.

One of the toughest times in his career was this season's Nov. 7, 28-24 home loss to Michigan State that virtually destroyed OSU's chance at a national championship. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 at the time and were expected to roll into the Fiesta Bowl championship game.

"That definitely broke our heart a little bit," Germaine said during a recent Church News interview. "But I'd be disappointed if I didn't have those trials and tests to go through."

Off the field, Germaine is also staying busy. He recently accepted a call to serve as a stake missionary in the Columbus Ohio Stake. Lane Wallace, his bishop in the Columbus University 1st Ward, said that Brother Germaine is approaching the calling with enthusiasm as his college football career winds down.

The soft-spoken, unpretentious athlete has already been a popular speaker at firesides in the area, according to Bishop Wallace, and recently spoke at a youth conference in Kirtland, Ohio. "He talks about teamwork, hard work and preparation," Bishop Wallace said, "But he doesn't like to talk about himself."

That attitude has impressed the sports media, and major newspapers have published profiles of the unassuming quarterback that focus on his good character and high standards.

In a pre-recorded spot during the Sugar Bowl telecast, the nation got acquainted with Germaine's fiancee, Lori Whiting. Bruce Whiting, Lori's father and Germaine's former bishop, said that Germaine and his father, Joe Sr., were the Whiting's home teachers when Germaine was a priest.

After going to Ohio State, Germaine would return home when he got a chance, and on one of those visits, according to Brother Whiting, "he noticed that the young girl he used to home teach had blossomed into a lovely young woman." They were engaged on Christmas Eve and plan to marry in the Mesa Temple in May, Brother Whiting said. — Greg Hill