Behind Enemy Lines: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett

Thursday, November 24, 2016 - 10:43am

J.T. Barrett has 513 total yards of offense in two prior games against Michigan.

J.T. Barrett has 513 total yards of offense in two prior games against Michigan. Buy this photo
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Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer may have been the biggest media magnets at Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago in July, but Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t far behind them.

That’s for good reason — the redshirt junior became the starter two years ago after an injury to Braxton Miller, and he went on to set a school record for total offense and win Big Ten Quarterback of the Year. He led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record before breaking his ankle against Michigan, and his team won the national championship under backup Cardale Jones.

The next year, Barrett briefly split time with Jones before reestablishing himself as the full-time starter. Again, he led Ohio State to an 11-1 record, but fell short of the College Football Playoff and settled for a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

With Jones now in the NFL, Barrett entered this season as the Buckeyes’ unquestioned leader and a potential Heisman candidate. So far this year, he’s lived up to the hype, accounting for 3,026 total yards of offense and 32 touchdowns.

The Daily joined the media circus around Barrett in Chicago as he discussed his newfound job security, his off-the-field personality and what he thought of the hype surrounding rival Michigan.

Question: Last season, was it difficult week to week, not knowing (if you would start)?

J.T. Barrett: Yeah, I feel like it was a little difficult. But I mean, you just try to put yourself in the best situation to play, and that’s all I tried to do is make sure I could focus on what I could control. It was something that Coach Meyer tried to do his best, as far as me and Cardale, make sure that Ohio State’s gonna have the best opportunity to win games.

Q: How different are things with (quarterback coach Tim Beck) now than they were a year ago?

JTB: That was rough on Coach Beck as well, being that each and every week he had to try and prepare two quarterbacks ’cause we really weren’t sure who was gonna play. So I think where he’s at right now, we’re on the same page as far as where we want to be as an offense and what it’s gonna take to get there. I think with him having a year under his belt on our offense, he’s definitely gonna be able to help me out and (do) different things to make sure that I can play at my best.

Q: There’s talk of a true freshman starting on the offensive line. What do you think about that — is he gonna have your back?

JTB: Yeah, his name’s Michael Jordan. For the longest time, I didn’t call him Michael Jordan — I was like, “You’re not Michael Jordan. You’re Marcus, Marcus Jordan.”(Reporter interjects: “There is a Marcus Jordan, too, his son.”) Oh, didn’t even know that. I had to change his name. Like, you’re named after a legend. It was nothing to his parents or anything, I was like, that’s a lot to live up to. But I call him Mike now. He’s definitely a gritty young guy that’s gonna help us out on the offensive line.

Q: What do you make of the national attention Michigan’s getting?

JTB: (blank stare) Who?

Q: Michigan? That school up north?

JTB: (keeps blank stare) I don’t think about it.

Q: J.T., we have to lean in sometimes to hear you — are you more boisterous in the huddle?

JTB: Well, we don’t huddle. (wags fingers triumphantly and smirks) Nah, I’m sorry. I’m a little louder on the field, but off the field, nah, I’m a laid-back guy. Not crazy loud. Can get some juice to me every now and then, but other than that I’m kind of a laid-back fellow.