J.T. Barrett Is Returning: What That Means For Ohio State at Quarterback in 2017

By Tim Shoemaker on January 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is returning for his fifth season.

J.T. Barrett is returning to Ohio State for his fifth season.

The Buckeyes' quarterback announced his intentions Wednesday. Barrett, a three-year starter who holds 21 school records and has a 26-4 record, is without question one of the most accomplished signal callers in Ohio State history.

And yet for some reason, a lot of folks in Columbus are unsure about the move.

The Buckeyes' offense was wildly inconsistent during the 2016 season — one which ended with a thud last Saturday night in a 31-0 loss to Clemson. In particular, Ohio State's passing game struggled for large portions of the year and many pointed the finger at Barrett, whose numbers saw a slight dip in production.

And with a talented stable of quarterbacks waiting in the wings — Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, Tate Martell — many believed it might be time for a change, that Barrett reached his peak and the younger quarterbacks behind him have a bit more upside.

But here's the reality of the situation: Unless there's an injury, it's hard to envision any scenario in which anybody but Barrett is Ohio State's starting quarterback in 2017.

There's a chance the Buckeyes hold some sort of competition, sure, but even if that's the case, Barrett would be the heavy favorite. Burrow, Haskins, Martell and Stephen Collier — whose future with the program remains up in the air — would have to "beat out" Barrett to earn the job, a phrase which Urban Meyer uses often. Unless one of those players is Tom Brady, it's almost impossible to see that happening to a player with Barrett's body of work.

Barrett must be better in 2017 than he was in 2016 and even 2015. It's fair to say there has been little-to-no progression from his record-setting redshirt freshman campaign in 2014. You can just look at the numbers for that:

J.T. Barrett: By the Numbers
2014 203–314 (64.6%) 2,834 34 10 9.8
2015 93–147 (63.3%) 992 11 4 6.7
2016 233–379 61.5%) 2,555 24 7 6.7

But again, that's not entirely on Barrett. Tom Herman left following that national championship season in 2014 and Meyer replaced Herman with Tim Beck. Ed Warinner took over as the primary play caller and Ohio State's wide receivers — especially in 2016 — haven't exactly set the world on fire.

After the Buckeyes' flop in the Fiesta Bowl, Meyer hinted there would be offensive changes made. It didn't take long for those to happen.

Beck moved on to Texas and Ohio State hired Ryan Day as its new quarterbacks coach. Former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is reportedly expected to be named the Buckeyes' new offensive coordinator, though the school has not officially announced that hiring yet.

So while there's a bit of unease right now among the Ohio State fan base, perhaps there shouldn't be. Wilson and Day seem like great fits for what Meyer is looking for and Barrett is about as accomplished and experienced as they come. He's a proven commodity at the sport's most important position.

Raekwon McMillan, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley already announced their intentions to forgo eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. J.T. Barrett decided to return.

Because of that, the Buckeyes will be just fine in 2017. When you have a quarterback, that makes things that much easier.

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