Buckeyes' Barrett a Heisman contender?

BY Marcus Hartman • November 18, 2014

Is J.T. Barrett a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate?

His head coach says yes -- and Urban Meyer has plenty of first-hand knowledge on that particular subject.

"I don't know if my endorsement matters, but I do statistically," Meyer replied Monday when asked if his quarterback's numbers are Heisman-worthy. "I've been fortunate to coach some guys that have been in New York, and he's a Heisman candidate."

In 12 previous years as a head coach, Meyer has had three players finish in the top nine in the voting for the most prestigious trophy in college football a total of six times. First came Alex Smith, who finished fourth as a senior at Utah in 2004. Tim Tebow won the trophy as a sophomore at Florida in 2007, finished third in '08 and fifth in '09 while Braxton Miller at Ohio State was fifth in 2012 and ninth last season.

Miller set Ohio State single-season records for total offense (275.8 yards per game) in 2012 and touchdowns accounted for (36) in 2013, but Barrett has already broken the latter record and could take down the former as well.

After a 389-yard day at Minnesota last Saturday, the redshirt freshman is averaging 312.7 yards per game (235.6 passing and 77.1 rushing) so far this season. He has 38 touchdowns (29 passing and nine rushing) with at least three games left and probably four as the Buckeyes are one win or one Michigan State loss away from clinching a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Through 10 games, Barrett has already surpassed the total yardage Troy Smith amassed (2,746) in 12 games in 2006 when he became the only modern quarterback from the Big Ten to win the Heisman, and he could break Smith's Ohio State single-season record of 30 touchdown passes this weekend when Ohio State plays host to Indiana. He needs one to tie and two to set a new mark.

Of course Smith's numbers were somewhat deflated by the conservative nature of his head coach, Jim Tressel, and offensive numbers across college football have exploded in the past decade.

Though he appears ready to rewrite the Ohio State record book, it remains to be seen if Barrett can convince voters across the country he is the most outstanding player in college football.

He trails Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in passer rating (184.6 to 171.6) and is only 15th nationally in total yards per game (Mariota is ninth with 330.4). In his own conference, Barrett is likely to have to fight Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, the nation's leading rusher with 1,909 yards in 10 games, for votes, but all three still have plenty more opportunities to state their case.

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