Ohio State players rally around QB Barrett as starter
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) J.T. Barrett’s leadership qualities may have as much to do with him becoming the starting quarterback for top-ranked Ohio State as anything.
Barrett won the competition with Cardale Jones and will start for the first time this season when the Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) play at Rutgers on Saturday.
”I feel he’s more in charge of everything,” tight end Nick Vannett said of Barrett. ”He has a louder voice. When you’ve got a leader like that at quarterback, people are going to listen to him and respect him. Not that they didn’t respect Cardale, but I feel like he has a greater feel of being a leader on the field.”
Jones won the job at the start of the season, but Barrett played some in several games. That included him blowing a chance to possibly become the starter with a tepid performance against Northern Illinois in the third game.
Barrett did not take a snap the next game against Indiana but saw extensive action the past two against Maryland and Penn State because coach Urban Meyer inserted him when the Buckeyes got near or in the red zone.
Meyer replaced Jones with Barrett full time after the second series of the second half against Penn State.
”We try not to pay too much attention to the quarterbacks,” Vannett said. ”We’ve got a job to do. We know coach Meyer is going to make a great decision on who he wants at quarterback. This week it’s J.T.”
Ohio State plays at a quicker tempo with Barrett and his running abilities surpass those of Jones. Jones, though, throws the deep ball better.
But Barrett has the intangibles that helped him take over as the starter at the beginning of the 2014 season when Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder surgery. Barrett led Ohio State to an 11-1 record before breaking his ankle in the regular season finale against Michigan.
”He has a lot of confidence and leadership and he shows it very well,” cornerback Gareon Conley said.
Jones replaced the injured Barrett and Ohio State won its next three games en route to winning the College Football Playoff championship.
With Barrett missing spring practices while still recovering from surgery, Jones went into the preseason camp as the favorite and held the position until this week.
Center Jacoby Boren was impressed how Barrett, who was named a captain prior to the season, handled not being the starter.
”J.T.’s kind of a different guy. There’s not many like him,” he said. ”Whether he’s first team, second team, he has the same approach.”
Meyer said the platooning is over for now but that Jones needs to be involved from the sideline and provide encouragement.
”(Jones) has to stay engaged,” Meyer said.
Vannett said the team can rally behind either quarterback, but it’s Barrett’s turn now.
”He’s a true field general. He just executes really well,” Vannett said. ”He takes control of the whole situation. He’s the one in charge. He grabs the attention of everybody and everybody listens to what he says. When you have a quarterback like that, it definitely gives you confidence in the offense.”