J.T. Barrett's Records Might Already Cement His Legacy as Ohio State's Best Quarterback Ever

By Vico on December 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm
J.T. Barrett in June 2016 entering an off-season event at Ohio State.

Imagine an ideal scenario in Tampa in a few weeks, after Ohio State will have defeated Clemson in Glendale. It had just followed that with a win over the Peach Bowl winner en route to Ohio State's second national championship in three years.

In that scenario, isn't J.T. Barrett now Ohio State's all-time greatest quarterback? Is it even a discussion?

Ohio State fans bemoan the spotty play from the third-year signal-caller, but his lowlights in a given game mask that he's credibly challenging the record books at almost every statistic for a quarterback. Barrett's likely return for a redshirt senior season should afford him the opportunity to put his name on top of almost all the records.

Consider the table below, which tabulates Ohio State passing record for a game, a season, and a career. Barrett appears on all three despite a season-ending injury in 2014, split duties amid a quarterback controversy in 2015, and general inefficiences this season.

Ohio State Passing Records (Game, Season, Career)
Game Season Career
Art Schlichter 1981 458 31-52 (2/0) Joe Germaine 1998 3,330 230-384 (25/7) Art Schlichter 1978-1981 7,547 497-951 (50/46)
Joe Germaine 1997 378 29-43 (2/2) Bobby Hoying 1995 3,269 211-341 (29/12) Bobby Hoying 1992-1995 7,232 498-858 (57/35)
Greg Frey 1989 362 20-31 (3/1) J.T. Barrett 2014 2,834 203-314 (34/10) Joe Germaine 1996-1998 6,370 439-741 (56/20)
Bobby Hoying 1995 354 24-35 (3/1) Art Schlichter 1981 2,551 183-350 (17/10) Greg Frey 1987-1990 6,316 443-835 (39/37)
J.T. Barrett 2016 349 21-31 (6/1) Troy Smith 2006 2,542 203-311 (30/6) J.T. Barrett 2014— 6,254 510-807 (69/19)

The only record listed here that could be considered out of Barrett's reach is passing yards in a given contest. Barrett was previously tied at No. 10 on this list with Joe Germaine (Michigan, 1998) for passing yards in a game with 330 against Cincinnati in 2014. However, the margin from No. 10 to No. 2 is just 49 yards, or basically one drive or a long play. Barrett's game this season against Bowling Green catapulted him into the top five for individual passing records in a game. 

It's unlikely he supplants Art Schlichter or even Joe Germaine on top this list. These passing records all came in losses. Even Greg Frey's 1989 game at Minnesota came amid an improbable comeback from a huge first-half deficit. Ohio State football tends to front-run its opponents under Urban Meyer. It's not impossible that Barrett could have a 500-yard passing game for Ohio State. The conditions in which Ohio State plays suggest it's just not probable.

Season and career records are well within Barrett's reach if he returns for a senior season. Barrett's 2014 campaign, which was cut short by three games, is already third-best in program history for a given season. It's 496 yards from top of the list. His 2014 season could conceivably have been No. 1 if he were not injured in the Michigan game, assuming Ohio State still races past Alabama and Oregon to the national championship that year.

Likewise, the career passing record may already be his if he were the full-time starter in 2015. Barrett had just 992 passing yards in 2015 as he split duties with Cardale Jones, which pale in comparison to the 2,834 he had as a freshman and even the 2,428 he has this season before the Clemson game. That record will assuredly be his with a full season next year.

J.T. Barrett's Place in the Quarterback Record Books
Statistic Barrett's Total/Best Barrett's Rank Record Holder Other Notes
Attempts (Career) 807 4th Art Schlichter (951)  
Completions (Game) 28 t-5th Joe Germaine (31) Barrett: 28-43, 245 yards at Penn State, 2016
Completions (Season) 214 2nd Joe Germaine (230) 2016 season still ongoing
Completions (Career) 510 1st J.T. Barrett (510) No. 2: Bobby Hoying (498)
Completion Percentage (Game, min. 10 completions) 80% NR Bill Mrukowski (10/11 vs. UCLA, 1961) Barrett: 12-15, 226 yards vs. Navy, 2014
Completion Percentage (Season) 64.6% 2nd Troy Smith (65.3%) 2014 season. 2016 percentage (61.8%) currently ranks 3rd
Completion Percentage (Career) 63.1% 2nd Todd Boeckman (63.4%) Barrett entered season No. 1, is now No. 2
Touchdown Passes (Game) 6 t-1st J.T. Barrett, Kenny Guiton (6) Barrett threw for 6 TDs vs. Kent State (2014) and Bowling Green (2016)
Touchdown Passes (Season) 34 1st J.T. Barrett (34) No. 2: Troy Smith (30)
Touchdown Passes (Career) 69 1st J.T. Barrett (69) No. 2: Bobby Hoying (57)
Wins (Career, Starting QB) 26 t-4th Art Schlichter (36) Barrett had just four wins as starting QB in 2015

The second table shows Barrett's place in the program record book on various other metrics beyond passing yards. These suggest that if Barrett isn't already No. 1 in these records, he likely will be at the end of next year.

Barrett will assuredly hold the record for career passing attempts, finally supplanting Art Schlichter as the program's most prolific passer (at least in sheer volume of attempts). Barrett, whose nadir was a paltry 147 attempts in five starts last year, needs just 144 attempts through the duration of his career to assume this record.

Likewise, J.T. Barrett becomes the program's all-time winningest starting quarterback if he starts every game next year for a program that repeats an 11-1 regular season. He could get a head-start on those 11 wins needed with a win over Clemson and a national championship win a week after that.

The touchdown records are already his and by a wide margin. He can only add to his totals this season and next.

The only marks that could conceivably elude Barrett are the accuracy statistics. Accuracy problems (along with dropped passes) have defined Barrett's quarterback trajectory of late, which fans well know. However, these are hard records to obtain regardless. Bill Mrukowski's 90.9% completion rate against UCLA in 1961 will be hard to top. Mrukowksi threw just 11 passes in that contest. Barrett routinely throws twice that. Barrett's best output in a given game is incidentally his first career start, which is still more than 10 percentage points below Mrukowski's record game.

The completion percentage record for a season will be hard to obtain too. Consider that Barrett is 214 for 346 on his attempts this season. If he completed 20-straight passes over however many games remain in Ohio State's season, his completion percentage would improve from 61.8% to 63.9%. That would still fall short of Troy Smith's 2006 season and even J.T. Barrett's freshman season in 2014.

Incidentally, Barrett entered the season with the all-time career completion percentage, but his 2016 season dropped him .3 percentage points below, of all people, Todd Boeckman. He could do well to recapture his place at No. 1 next season.

J.T. Barrett as Ohio State's best-ever quarterback is unlikely to sit well with some fans. Tippy Dye is a legend from another time. Rex Kern has two national championships; Barrett guided Ohio State to the 2014 post-season but sat out the playoff run. Troy Smith has a Heisman. Art Schlichter, for all his ignominy after his time at Ohio State, is still arguably the best quarterback in program history at the moment. Barrett's records compare more than well even if his shortcomings are more obvious than his greatness.

The truth is these qualitative reservations about J.T. Barrett vis-a-vis other quarterback greats belie the quantitative reality that Barrett has emerged, or will soon, as the best quarterback in Ohio State program history. Reservations about Barrett's status among these greats also glance over other names, like Todd Boeckman and Greg Frey, that appear in Ohio State's quarterback record books. In other words, no one accused Ohio State of being a "quarterback school" amid the talent at running back and wide receiver it sent to long careers in the NFL. Barrett's competition for all-time greatest Ohio State quarterback is not as crowded as the casual fan would think.

By most measures, J.T. Barrett should conclude his career at Ohio State as the program's all-time greatest quarterback. The statistics support that conclusion and/or likely will support that conclusion if Barrett returns for a senior season.

Barrett could help his case among Ohio State fans for greatest quarterback in program history if he were to guide the Buckeyes to another national championship. 

The truth is he may already be the best.

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