Billy Price knows J.T. Barrett as well as anyone on the Ohio State football team.
Both were members of Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2013 and have been starters for Ohio State’s offense since 2014. They’re the only fourth-year starters on the team. Their on-field relationship has gotten even closer this year, with Price playing center and snapping the ball to Barrett at quarterback, but their off-field relationship has been close throughout their careers.
Many fans believe it’s time for Ohio State to take Barrett out of the starting lineup and make a change at the quarterback position. If you ask Price whether the Buckeyes should bench Barrett, however, his answer is a firm "No."
"You’re talking about taking out the most prolific leader in Ohio State history. One of the best guys, one of the top 1A, 1B type names in Ohio State history," Price said. "Whether I think there should be a quarterback change? No. The kid’s put more records in the Ohio State record book than any other quarterback in the entire Ohio State program."
Given the closeness of the relationship between Barrett and Price – Price says they "have been through so much" together over the last five years – it’s reasonable to wonder whether other players on the team, particularly younger players, feel as strongly about Barrett as he does or whether they would like to see one of Ohio State’s young quarterbacks, such as redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins, see playing time.
A trio of Ohio State recruits – commit Jaiden Woodbey and five-star targets Micah Parsons and Jackson Carman – have taken to Twitter since Saturday to advocate that Haskins should play, only furthering the idea that there could be dissenting opinions among players as to who should be the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback.
Price, however, believes there is a strong consensus within the players who actually on the team that Barrett is the right man for the job.
"There’s nobody who has a single doubt that 'Hey, I don’t think that J.T. is the guy who should be playing,'" Price said.
Price, who has publicly acknowledged that he reads Eleven Warriors and coverage from other media outlets about the Buckeyes, knows what it’s like to be the target of external criticism. He recalls fans calling for him to be taken out of the lineup back when he was the starting left guard on Ohio State’s offensive line in 2014.
"Everybody wanted my head in ‘14," Price said Tuesday. "Everybody wanted my head."
With criticism of Barrett and the Buckeyes at a high following Saturday’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, however, Price has decided not to pay as much attention to what people outside the program are saying about the Buckeyes. In an effort to avoid the noise and "focus on things that really matter," Price decided to deactivate his social media accounts prior to this week.
"Everybody’s entitled to their opinion … the people who are in this program is what matters," Price said.
“The kid’s put more records in the Ohio State record book than any other quarterback in the entire Ohio State program.”– Billy Price, on J.T. Barrett
Price says the loss has been tough on him, describing the day after a loss as being "kind of like a corporate Monday, where you really got to push yourself through sometimes." But he says he’s keeping his focus on continuing to work hard and getting better, and believes Barrett and the Buckeyes offense will find their rhythm if they continue to work hard.
"You’ve got to really push through those things and just get back to the way that we play football, get back to the way this offense is and get back to the winning tradition here at Ohio State and continue to represent this program and ourselves the best way we can," Price said. "For (Barrett) to continue to work harder, continue for myself to work harder, continue for this offense to put ourselves in better positions to actually execute the ball, as we should and as we know how to, and we’ll be fine."