With a plate and some screws fused into his surgically-repaired ankle, Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback J.T Barrett crutched over to a small table inside the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, sat down, and smiled.
For the first time since suffering a season-ending injury against Michigan last weekend, Barrett met with reporters to talk about his health, backup Cardale Jones and a storybook season that watched him blossom into one of the nation's finest players.
- Barrett said he’s in a cast for six more weeks before four more weeks in a boot and then “aggressive rehab from there. That’s all I remember from anything. I think that’s a pretty good plan being that I have a plate in there, and some screws.”
- Barrett said he’ll be at the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday: “I’ll be there.”
- Barrett on suffering the season-ending injury against Michigan: “I don’t know if I’m really bummed, (but) definitely you wonder why. You have those conversations or little talks with God like why now and things like that but you never know. Just taking it for what it is. I mean, what can I do you know? Not really bummed, just taking it for what it is.”
- Barrett on his first moments after going down in the fourth quarter: “I think a lot of people think it would be crazy pain, but I actually thought it was just dislocated on the field like the doctors twisted it because it was messed up, now. It was all over there. But they twisted it and yanked on it and I thought it was dislocated. I thought I was gonna be all right, when we got up there, did the X-rays, found out it was broken but I wasn’t in tremendous, horrible pain. I wanted to see the end of the game — even if I was in some crazy pain, I still wanted to watch the end of the game.”
- Barrett said he tried not to think about the injury and its implications in a night at the hospital: “Like I said, just tried to take it for what it is but having that time to myself just enjoying it with my friends that came into town — my buddies John and Jared. Also my dad came up and things like that, just tried to enjoy it with my family instead of just focusing on the injury.”
- Barrett on whether it hit him that his Heisman campaign might be in doubt upon breaking his ankle: “That didn’t really cross my mind, I just knew it was messed up. I tried getting up but when I looked at my ankle I was like, it’s probably best that you stay down. I didn’t really think about it.
- Barrett on backup quarterback Cardale Jones, who will make his first-career start against the Badgers this weekend: “I feel like his world is probably like mine was at the beginning of the year. If anybody knows what that feels like, I definitely do. But more closer to the game, we’ll probably go over some stuff, game-plan wise, encouragement. Definitely. But Cardale’s a great player, honestly feel like if I wasn’t starting this year, Cardale would’ve did the same things that I did this year because Cardale’s that talented.”
- After being called upon to replace the injured Braxton Miller 12 days before the season opener, Barrett reflected on a season that watched him go from a relatively unknown commodity to one of the nation’s top players: “I think it’s just crazy to think about. At the beginning of the year, myself personally, I wasn’t trying to go out there and break any records. I wasn’t trying to play outside myself. I was just trying to put a team in the best position to win each and every week whether it be my preparation or just making plays on the field or handing the ball off or tossing it two yards, counting as a pass, whatever it may be. I was just trying to make sure at the end of the week were 1-0 and winning game.”
- Barrett said growing on a weekly basis was something he thinks about: “I definitely made that the emphasis each and every week. Just trying to get a little better — whatever it made be.”
- He added that was something he learned from former Major League Baseball pitcher and quarterbacks trainer Tom House last spring: “I went to go see Tom House in May to work on quarterback training or whatever and he told me Tom Brady — so we’re talking about Tom Brady and the guy is the best to ever do it arguably and still doing it in the National Football League. And he said, every time Tom Brady goes to see Tom House, he just tries to get a little better. And I was like, ‘We’re talking about Tom Brady; how much better can he get?’ But I mean, with myself, I have a lot of things to get better at … not trying to get better at a thousands things, but something each and every week to get better at.”
- Barrett on what he would offer as advice to Jones: “Don’t try to do it all yourself, we’ve got a great O-line that’s gotten better from Week Two. As an offense as a whole, we’ve just gotten better offensively from Week Two, so he doesn’t have to do it all by himself. We’ve got a great group of receivers … can hand it off to the running back … you don’t have to win the game. You know what I’m saying? Where as probably a couple years ago, Braxton was in a tough position where they didn’t have the athletes or experience where he had to do a lot of it by himself. As with myself, we’ve got people around us. We can hand the ball off, throw it around. We don’t have to win the game.
- Added Barrett: “You might want to take a look at warmups, Cardale might throw the ball 100 yards. I seen him throw it 70-75 — Penn State last year. I mean, he played at the end of the game, but he was juiced. You might wanna look at that.
- Barrett said there was a point where he doubted himself and whether football was worth the hardships it entails: “There were times when I first got here, you’re questioning yourself, you’re out there at spring ball and spring practice and you look at the other guys around you and you’re like, ‘I don’t know. This is what I signed up for?’ Going to workouts, grinding, you got mat drills and it’s rough. You don’t want to be here at 5:30 a.m., you’re waking up. You know, you question it sometimes. And you think you could be doing something else … but all that makes it all right because you know it was all for a season.”
- Barrett on a record-breaking season: “At the end of the day, if I walk away from Ohio State without a Big Ten Championship or national championship, I’m really not satisfied.
- Barrett, who put up Heisman-caliber statistics this season, said he’s never been to New York City: “As you can see, I get excited about little things. I would definitely be excited. That stuff, you watch on TV and be like if only. You dream about that stuff. ‘If only I could get there.’ And actually, I haven’t even thought about it like, growing up, I never thought about going to the Heisman, winning the Heisman, things like that … I remember watching the Vince Young, Reggie Bush when that was back in 2005 … that would definitely be a blessing." Barrett will know if he's a finalist for the award Monday.