Meet J.T. Barrett.
He may be the starting quarterback at Ohio State one day.
And that day may be here before you realize it.
Even with the report that Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller will be returning for his senior season, the countdown to find the successor to the reigning two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is unofficially underway. And once Miller’s college career does come to an end, the void that he’ll leave in the Buckeyes’ lineup could be Barrett’s to lose.
A four-star prospect from Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas, there’s been no shortage of praise for Barrett since he arrived at Ohio State as an early enrollee in the winter of 2013. Even as he recovered from tears in his ACL, MCL, and meniscus that were suffered during his senior season in high school, Barrett managed to make an impact on the Buckeyes program, delivering what was described as an “awe inspiring” recruiting pitch to future teammates Dontre Wilson and James Clark.
Barrett’s assist to his coaching staff on the recruiting trail embodied the leadership skills that those who know him have rave about, and that seem to have already defined him as a quarterback.
“I think it’s a natural type thing, I really don’t have to think about it,” Barrett said. “I just knew, I had something to say, and that’s what came out. It was natural and I didn’t have to think about it. It just comes to me sometimes.”
The advanced maturity of Barrett could prove to come in handy for the 6-1, 222-pounder should he find himself starting for the Buckeyes -- sooner or later. Asked to describe himself as a quarterback, Barrett pointed to his intangibles first, before also stating that while he’s a dual threat player, his preference is to pass.
“I’m a grinder. I really hate to lose. I probably hate to lose more than I like to win, honestly. A competitor, a really tough guy,” he said. “I’m pass-first, throwing the football and distributing it to the receivers. I’m able to run. It could be a quarterback design run or just be a scramble.”
Barrett’s description of himself matches what’s been said about him by OSU head coach Urban Meyer, who despite his age, praised the impact that his youngest quarterback made in his position room upon his arrival. His high school statistics also support his claim of being a balanced QB, as Barrett rushed for more than 1,500 yards, threw for more than 1,600 and accounted for 21 touchdowns in his junior season at Rider.
His aforementioned knee injury cut his senior season short and impeded his physical abilities as an early enrollee, but with Miller and Kenny Guiton already on campus, the plan was always for Barrett to redshirt in 2013. It was a different role for the former Lone Star State star, but one that he did his best to take advantage of.
Serving as the Buckeyes’ scout team quarterback, Barrett said that he made the most of the reps that he received in practice, even if his main objective was to mimic opposing quarterbacks for the first-team defense.
“Being the scout team quarterback, it’s not like you’re just separated from the offense,” he said. “You’re still developing. You see a play that an opposing team’s running, you try to make it similar to a play that you would run. Every day, you’re just trying to be a better quarterback and help your defense.”
Asked if he would be ready to take over the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback spot in the event that Miller did declare for the draft, Barrett said that he’s not right now, before noting that “that’s what spring practice is for.” The freshman admitted that he still suffers from soreness in his once-injured knee from time to time, but he doesn’t foresee it being an issue moving forward.
With one year on campus already under his belt, Barrett said that he’ll spend the upcoming offseason learning the ins, outs, and intricacies of the Ohio State offense. With redshirt sophomore-to-be Cardale Jones already in Columbus and three-star prospect Stephen Collier on his way from Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County, there’s no guarantee that Miller’s heir apparent -- whether he’s needed now or next year -- will be Barrett, but his young maturity and natural leadership could be key components in the inevitable quarterback controversy that awaits him.
“I’ll just take it day by day, getting better,” Barrett said of a potential quarterback race in Columbus. “(You have to) make sure that you show the coaches that you’re able to run the show.”