J.T. Barrett had to stand on the sidelines and watch during his senior season as his Rider High School team played in its first ever state semifinal game.
Barrett tore his ACL earlier that year and was unable to play as his school advanced further than it ever had. But even though he was not on the field, he was still a vital part in Rider's run to the state semis.
"When he went down, somebody had to be the No. 1 and the kid that came in did a super job, but J.T. really helped our team out in sort of a different aspect from leading from the sideline," Barrett's high school coach Jim Garfield told Eleven Warriors on Tuesday. "He was kind of like a coach and did things you kind of take for granted as a coach.
"You look at him and say, ‘Golly, if he was in there we’d win the state championship.’ We lost in the semis in double overtime, so we were right there, and if it wasn’t for his mental strength and toughness, I don’t know that we would have gotten that far. He was a huge leader for us.”
Barrett's leadership has been what Ohio State coaches have raved about, as well, and he will have an opportunity to showcase his talents this season as the likely starting quarterback with the news Braxton Miller re-injured his throwing shoulder and will miss the 2014 season.
The 6-foot-1, 225- pound Barrett redshirted with the Buckeyes last year as a true freshman and hasn't played in a competitive game since high school, so there's cause for concern for Ohio State fans.
And while not many around Columbus are familiar with Barrett's skillset, Garfield is. Now the head coach at Elgin High School in Texas, Garfield discussed what Ohio State fans can expect this season from the redshirt freshman.
What kind of player will Ohio State fans get to see with J.T. Barrett?
Jim Garfield: If J.T. is the starting quarterback, you’re gonna get an exciting, athletic quarterback. Being a dual-threat, he can do things with his feet as well as he can do with his arm. He’s a tremendous leader, as well, and I think that’s something the Buckeye Nation people are gonna be excited about. He’s got great field presence and he commands respect at that position.
Ohio State coaches have mentioned that J.T. is a good leader. What kind of things does he do on the field to validate that?
Garfield: It’s everything from taking charge of the huddle or taking charge of the sideline. One thing, when we were together at Rider all those years, when J.T. spoke everybody listened. It wasn’t just offense or defense, it was everybody, and that’s what kind of set him apart from other team captains that we’ve had.
Being a dual-threat quarterback, was he a better runner or passer for you in high school?
Garfield: For us, it was probably about 50-50. He could throw the rock, for sure, but if it wasn’t there he could pull it down and run.
Was your system somewhat similar to Ohio State’s then?
Garfield: Yes, it was very similar. I think being in our system definitely helped his transition to the college game. Most definitely.
When J.T. was in high school, what attracted major college football programs to recruit him?
Garfield: His athletic ability and his size. He throws a good ball and I know people have talked about his arm strength maybe being in question, but I didn’t see it. What it really came down to, though, was his on the field presence and his leadership.
Are you surprised at all then that J.T. has moved up the depth chart and has the opportunity to start for Ohio State as a redshirt freshman?
Garfield: Not at all. I knew it was going to happen one day I just didn’t know it was going to be like this if that’s what’s really going down with Braxton.
How often do you and J.T. speak?
Garfield: I talk to him quite a bit. I try to talk to him about once a week. I haven’t heard from him yet about this, but I’m sure I will. When we get going during football season it’s more difficult to stay in touch because he’s always busy and I’m always busy, but when we get together he can come hang out at the office and we can chalk it up together and talk a little bit.
Ohio State fans are on edge about the quarterback position, so what do you expect to see from J.T. this year if he gets the chance to start?
Garfield: I’m expecting to see a lot of excitement. I’m expecting to see the offense moving and I’m expecting to see him working the game plan like coach Herman wants him to do and I think he’ll move the chains and put points on the board. Ya’ll got you a good one, that’s for dang sure.