J.T. Barrett has worn the scarlet and grey for almost 20 percent of his life. He enrolled at Ohio State in January of 2013. He begins his fifth and final season as an Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback 55 months later with numerous records on his resume and others within his reach.
Barrett ran out of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at 6:30 a.m. Thursday with the rest of the Buckeyes for the first practice of the 2017 season . He didn’t have time for nostalgia.
“Has it hit you yet that this is your last season?” a reporter asked after practice.
“It didn’t really hit me today,” Barrett said. “Look I’m just working on getting better. I’m enjoying the time. It didn’t hit me, but last first day of camp, yeah, that hit me.”
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The Buckeyes will practice again Friday and then hold five more practices before official training camp begins Aug. 6 when they move into their home for camp, the Hyatt Place on Yard Street, south of campus.
Barrett takes a 26-4 record as a starting quarterback into his senior season. He ranks first in Ohio State history with 69 touchdown passes and third in passing yards (6,381). He has produced 100 touchdowns (passing and rushing), leaving him six short of tying Purdue’s Drew Brees for most touchdowns in Big Ten history.
All that falls in the first couple paragraphs of Barrett’s biography in Ohio State’s 282-page team guide. Barrett gets three pages to himself. No one else gets even one full page.
Of course, Barrett failed to produce a single point in his last game. Clemson blanked the Buckeyes 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. A passing game that struggled all season produced 127 yards. The Buckeyes didn’t gain more than 130 yards through the air in the final three games.
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All eyes will turn to that part of the offense when Ohio State opens the 2017 season Aug. 31 against the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. Coach Urban Meyer knows it will take more than Barrett to turn the passing game around.
“The quarterback gets far too much benefit of the doubt,” Meyer said Monday in Chicago during Big Ten Media Days. “J.T. Barrett broke a bunch of records as a freshman. That’s because the receivers were outstanding, and the offensive line was outstanding. He’d be the first one to tell you. We struggled at times last year because our offensive line wasn’t up to speed. Our tight ends were not good. Our receivers weren’t playing to their potential.”
Barrett expects to lean on a group of six receivers. The group he mentioned Thursday includes Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack. There will be an opportunity for others, such as freshmen Trevon Grimes and Jaylen Harris, to get in the mix.
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Barrett likes what he saw in the offseason and expects to see more of the same in the next month.
“We’ve got momentum,” Barrett said. “You just try to keep building on it. We have momentum coming off spring. We had a good summer working in the weight room and throwing, too. We had a good day today, too. Health is a big thing. We all try to stay away from that injury bug. Today wasn’t anything crazy. All of us our adjusting to the speed of getting back to things and getting our feet more active.”