With Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller’s status for the 2014 season up in the air after he re-injured his throwing shoulder during Monday’s practice, the Buckeyes may turn to redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett to guide them this year.
If Miller can’t go in Ohio State’s opener against Navy on Aug. 30, Barrett would be the likely starter as he has recently moved ahead of Cardale Jones on the depth chart to be the Buckeyes’ No. 2 option behind Miller.
“The offense moves better when he’s in there,” Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said of Barrett in comparison to Jones on Monday. “... He’s probably completing more balls and making more of the right reads in the run game.”
“At the end of the day, the offense moves when he’s in...”– Tom Herman
“But at the end of the day, the offense moves when he’s in and sometimes it doesn’t as much, not that Cardale is doing a bad job, but the offense moves more frequently when J.T. is the quarterback and that’s the sign of a good one.”
Barrett has yet to take a snap in a game as a Buckeye after redshirting his true freshman year. He was coming off a torn ACL during his senior season in high school so he hasn’t played a full year of football since he was a high school junior.
But during that junior season, the Wichita Falls, Texas native threw for over 1,600 yards and ran for over 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns. Before his injury as a senior, Barrett ran for 569 yards, threw for 784 yards and had 12 total touchdowns.
Barrett may not be as explosive as a player like Miller, but not many are. Barrett was, however, rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country in 2013 by 247Sports and was a four star prospect out of Rider High School.
“A ton of intangibles. He’s reworked his body since he got here, came in kinda pudgy as a would-be high school senior and has basically spent a whole year reworking his body,” Herman said of Barrett in mid-February. “He’s shown a lot of leadership on the scout team this year so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do thrown into the fray."
While Herman may have said that of Barrett back in February, he didn’t anticipate Barrett potentially stepping into such a prominent role this season.
But Miller did not take any reps in spring ball as Jones and Barrett took the majority. As the starter for the Gray team in April’s Spring Game, Barrett went 15 for 33 passing for 151 yards.
“He’s progressing,” Miller said of Barrett on Monday before his injury occurred. “Ever since he was a freshman, he’s been watching me and (Kenny Guiton) and he went through the spring and was taking all the reps every day in the spring.
“As a quarterback you have to get better each and every practice and that’s what I see in him. He’s just taking a step up and he’s learning each and every day.”
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Herman has always been optimistic of Barrett’s ability and with the recent news that Miller could possibly miss some game time, it’s a perfect opportunity for the redshirt freshman to show what he is capable of doing.
“His high school coach, Jim Garfield, and his parents deserve a ton of credit because he is a hell of a leader,” Herman said of Barrett in February. “You wanna talk about intangibles and just being able to feel when guys kinda have that ‘it’ factor? He’s got that. And then he’s got a quick release, he’s pretty accurate. Those things are what drew us toward him.”
“He’s done laying in the weeds and now he’s gotta go get out of the weeds and go attack this thing.”