As J.T. Barrett walked toward the throng of reporters that awaited him on the indoor practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Thursday morning, Ohio State’s starting quarterback did so casually. He chatted up a program spokesman on the way and nonchalantly took a swig from a bottle of water.
Barrett was hardly fazed by the dozens of cameras, microphones and reporters. After all, he’s done this before.
Thursday marked the first practice of Ohio State’s 2017 campaign — the final one for Barrett. Now a fifth-year senior — it somewhat feels like he’s a 10th-year senior — the Wichita Falls, Texas, native is ready for one more go-round as the Buckeyes’ unquestioned leader.
“I set my alarm for 5 o’clock in the morning and I was here about 5:15,” Barrett said afterward. “It was up and at ‘em early and we were out on the field by 6:15.”
There were no pads at Thursday’s practice and Barrett referred to it on more than one occasion as “an extension of the summer.” However, with Ohio State opening its season just five weeks from this day, Barrett knows it’s go-time.
“It was time to get going,” he said. “I’m not terribly mad at me finishing my last summer here as a Buckeye as far as the offseason program but it was time for football and I think everybody had that same vibe.”
The hope for the Buckeyes, of course, is over the next five weeks Barrett and the rest of Ohio State’s offense regain the high-powered form they once had. It’s been an inconsistent couple of seasons on that side of the ball since the 2014 national championship year and Urban Meyer made changes as a result.
Kevin Wilson was hired as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day was brought in to be the new quarterbacks coach this offseason. Barrett said the transition was smooth this spring and that continued throughout the summer.
“It’s just constant conversation of things I like on the field and things I’m comfortable with,” Barrett said. “That’s just going to help us better attack the game plan. That conversation is going to continue throughout camp. We have conversations here and there throughout the summer but we really didn’t need it in the summer. Now, we’re really starting to get it going and get a feel for each other.”
We’ll have to wait and see the results, but early indications are that Wilson and Day have had a major impact on fixing what was broken with Ohio State’s offense. And if that happens, the man who is set to begin his fourth year as a starting quarterback will be controlling the entire operation on the field.