Jack Sawyer and C.J. Barnett Discuss Why They Became Buckeyes, Their Favorite Ohio State Traditions on Latest Episode of “Tradition Talk”

By Dan Hope on June 16, 2023 at 7:49 pm

Ohio State released another episode of its “Tradition Talk” series on Friday, featuring a conversation between Ohio State junior defensive end Jack Sawyer and Ohio State assistant athletic director for player development C.J. Barnett about Ohio State’s all-time greats, why they chose to become Buckeyes and their favorite OSU traditions.

Like in previous episodes, the latest episode of Tradition Talk starts with the current Ohio State player and former Ohio State player/current staffer picking a “Mount Rushmore” of Ohio State greats. Barnett chose to pick four players from the state of Ohio, giving his nods to Archie Griffin, Kurt Coleman, Anthony Gonzalez and Braxton Miller while also naming Christian Bryant, his former batterymate at safety in Ohio State’s secondary, when prompted by Sawyer to add a “personal favorite.”

Sawyer took a more open-ended route, naming Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Chase Young and Joey Bosa before debating between Denzel Ward and J.T. Barrett and ultimately naming Barnett as a fifth choice for his expanded Mount Rushmore.

Barnett and Sawyer then discussed why they chose to become Buckeyes, with Sawyer citing his local roots as a Pickerington native as well as his relationships with Larry Johnson and Ryan Day.

“When you grow up in Columbus, everybody’s a Buckeye fan. My family means everything to me. And so being close to them and being close to my friends and my family meant a lot to me,” Sawyer said. “And then also with Coach Johnson being here, and then when Coach Day got the job and just coming when I was on my visits, it made the decision really easy with those guys being here.

“And some of the guys who have played here who are from Pickerington, the DaVon Hamiltons, Pat Elfleins, all those guys. So to me, it was a simple decision. When I was a freshman in high school, I wanted to commit here right after I got the offer. But I'd say the two biggest things was Coach Johnson being here and being close to my family and my friends, didn’t want to leave them.”

Barnett said his local ties as a Dayton native and his relationships with Ohio State’s coaches at the time also played a major part in his decision to become a Buckeye.

“Watching them every Saturday, being a kid, watching Mike Doss win a national championship, all that kind of stuff, it’s like ‘I want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of this great place that has such great athletes, such a great fan base, great head coaches and all that kind of stuff.’ So that was the first thing, just the overall greatness of Ohio State,” Barnett said.

“I remember Jim Tressel coming into my home, Jim Tressel was my head coach when I started here, and just the way he was, you could tell that was genuine. You could tell how much he cared about Ohio State, about me coming to play for him. Also just him emphasizing family. And I know it’s right down the street, I still got my family back home, but going somewhere where you’re treated like family and they care about you, not just the player but who you are.”

Sawyer said his lifelong love of the Buckeyes makes him hungrier to win a national title this season.

“I want to bring a national championship here to Ohio State, to Columbus, for all the fans and for everybody in the state so bad,” Sawyer said. “When I was growing up, when we won it in 2014, I wanted to be a part of that so bad with all the great players that were on that team. And just seeing the state and the city, how electric it was, that’s another reason I came here is just to, I want to bring one of those back here.”

Barnett and Sawyer also talked about their favorite Ohio State traditions. Barnett said his is Carmen Ohio while Sawyer said his are singing the fight song in the locker room after the game and the dinner the team has at the Ohio State Golf Club on the night before every home game.

Both men agreed that what makes Ohio State special is the brotherhood within the program, and Barnett advised Sawyer to make sure he soaks that in while he’s still playing for the Buckeyes.

“I remember my first time singing (Carmen Ohio) with you guys (after coming back to Ohio State) ... I teared up, bro. Just because you miss that stuff, man,” Barnett said. “I’m so fortunate to be a part of this place.”

Sawyer said seeing how much the program means to former Ohio State players motivates him and his teammates to work as hard as they do.

“It just speaks volumes to how much this place means to all of us,” Sawyer said.

You can watch the full “Tradition Talk” between Sawyer and Barnett at the top of the page. Previous episodes of the series released by Ohio State have included conversations between Brian Hartline and Marvin Harrison Jr., Steele Chambers and James Laurinaitis and Devin Jordan and Emeka Egbuka

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