Rex Kern doesn't hold many passing records at Ohio State, largely because of the era he played in. Yet, he is viewed as one of the best signal callers in school history because of the amount of games he won.
J.T. Barrett also won early and often in his career, breaking the majority of the passing records at Ohio State. However, Barrett came under fire from the media and fan base during the final years of his Buckeye career for a multitude of reasons.
The two quarterbacks clearly both have their spot in Ohio State history regardless of what the bar talk (or online comment sections) about them might be. In a recent discussion with Eleven Warriors, Kern said Barrett belongs near the top when discussing Buckeye signal callers.
"You can't argue with J.T.'s success," he said. "I don't think there is a question that J.T. is one of the most talented quarterbacks we have had at Ohio State."
Barrett is the program leader in total offensive yards, touchdown passes and total touchdowns. He also owns Big Ten records for touchdown passes and total touchdowns, while becoming Ohio State's all-time winningest quarterback.
The evolution of the game allowed Barrett to do many of those things – along with some pretty solid coaching and teammates – much like it did for Kern back in his days as a Buckeye.
"When I played, Ohio State didn't throw the ball that much but halfway through my junior year, with only maybe 12 or 13 games, I became the all-time leading total yards player in program history," Kern said. "We did different things at that time which enabled me to do that.
"I was fortunate enough to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and I sat next to Doug Flutie," Kern added. "I said, 'Hey Flutie, I was looking at your statistics and saw you threw for 10,000-some yards. The only time I saw that number was on my odometer on my car.'"
Barrett finished his Ohio State career with 9,434 passing yards and 104 touchdown passes to 30 interceptions. He also added 3,263 yards rushing and an additional 43 scores in his four seasons as a Buckeye.
Even though he came under scrutiny for his lack of arm strength amongst other things toward the end of his career, Kern said there is still no question about where Barrett stacks up amongst the all-time greats to play quarterback for the Buckeyes.
"I think J.T. has been an outstanding, great quarterback for us at Ohio State. He should be in that mix of the great quarterbacks that played for Ohio State," Kern said. "He has proven that."
While most haven't projected Barrett to have much of a career at the NFL level, Kern thinks Barrett can have success, largely because of where he landed.
The New Orleans Saints signed Barrett to a three-year, $1.71 million free-agent deal following the NFL draft, placing him in a four-man quarterback room alongside Taysom Hill, Tom Savage and of course, Drew Brees. Most NFL teams carry only two or three quarterbacks on their active 53-man rosters, so Barrett still has some work to do to make the final cut come fall camp.
However, because of the situation he landed in, Kern thinks Barrett's chances of sticking in the NFL are higher than most think.
"I think he is going to a pretty darned good pro team, that he might have an opportunity to showcase a little more talent than what he showed at Ohio State because of the wide open offense that the Saints will employ," Kern said. "He will learn from a guy like Drew Brees, who I'll bet J.T. will have some nice tongue-in-cheek conversations with because J.T. broke all his records in the Big Ten."
No matter what happens at the next level, Kern said Barrett will always have what he accomplished in Columbus to hold on to.
"J.T. should have great pride in what he accomplished at Ohio State," he said.
Stay tuned to Eleven Warriors for the final installment of our conversation with Kern on Sunday, in which he reflects back on the 1968 national title team and the upcoming 50-year anniversary celebration of perhaps the greatest season in school history.