Nobody thought J.T. Barrett would be this good.
Well, except for Jeff Heuerman, apparently.
“I told you guys back then and I knew what kind of guy he is, knew what kind of player he is, and competitor and leader," Ohio State's senior tight end said after Wednesday's practice. "I don’t think there’s a lot of people who say they’re really surprised that really know him, know his work ethic, his leadership. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of people that will say they’re surprised. He’s done a great job and he’s worked for that every step of the way. Hats off to him.”
Barrett was thrust into the role of Ohio State's starting quarterback just two weeks prior to the team's season-opener and he's already had, statistically, one of the greatest seasons in program history.
Through just 10 games, the redshirt freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas has thrown for 2,356 yards and 29 touchdowns. He's also run for 771 yards and nine scores. The 38 total touchdowns this year are already the most by any player in program history for a single season.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about being that that’s never really on my mind," Barrett said Wednesday amongst a scrum of reporters. "I’m just going out there every Saturday trying to win football games, but I’m grateful that I am on that list, but like I said the objective every week is to go out there and win games.”
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota seems to be the favorite right now to take home the most prestigious award in the sport. Right behind him, in most cases, appears to be Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. But after that is anyone's best guess and the Buckeyes believe their guy should be right up there for consideration.
"He's a great leader first of all," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "Second of all, I think he's playing as good as any player in the nation so I think he definitely should be in the talk."
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had mostly sidestepped the Heisman talk for Barrett until his weekly press conference Monday when he said Barrett is "a Heisman candidate."
He would know, too. He's coached quarterbacks who finished in the top five of the Heisman voting in Alex Smith and Braxton Miller and had Tim Tebow win the award in 2007 and finish in the top five in two other seasons.
But Meyer admitted Wednesday he wouldn't be talking with Barrett about managing a Heisman campaign despite the fact it could bring added attention to the program.
“That's real, but this kid is so grounded and that’s a credit to his family," Meyer said. "If I saw it, certainly I’d jump in the middle of it but I haven’t given it two thoughts.”
Need another example of that? Look no further than what Barrett had to say when asked if being in the conversation would change him in any way.
“I hope it doesn’t change me. Football stays the same. I try hard to be the same," he said. "Working hard, being here on a Wednesday night until — I probably won’t leave here until 9 o’clock you know, grinding, getting right as far as reads and everything like that. I’m doing my best to make sure it doesn’t (change me), but I have people around here to keep me grounded so it’s really unlikely for that to happen.”