J.T. Barrett's growth this year has been stunning. Barrett's gone from a being a redshirt freshman in a battle with Cardale Jones for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart to the driving force behind Ohio State's high-powered offense that finds itself on the cusp of a Big Ten title. And while the growing pains were tough (see, Virginia Tech), Barrett's production on the field now makes that pain worth the while. J.T. Barrett looks great on the field, but when his performance is compared to Ohio State greats of the past, he looks downright ridiculous.
First, let's start with the great Ohio State QBs from the last generation or so. If we assume Barrett will continue on his current pace and extrapolate out his current numbers to a whole 13 game season, he's well above every decent Ohio State QB from the last 30 years. (Note: Not shown here, Joe Bauserman. His tiny bar on the graph looked too sad) Barrett's simply blowing every other QB's total numbers away, almost 25% better than the next-best QB (Miller/Pryor). Yes, some of that is due to the new Meyer high-powered offense and the death of three-yards-and-cloud-of-dust style play, but still, the numbers are downright impressive.
The outlook is even better when you consider that this is likely Barrett's floor - as a redshirt freshman he'll only improve with experience, practice, a better offensive line, etc. The chart is almost comical when you compare the first full seasons of each of these QBs, as Barrett's almost doubling up every other Ohio State QB star. The future looks bright, although there's only so much offense you can conceivably put up in a game, unless Ohio State turns into Baylor. Which maybe isn't impossible.
So that's all well and good, but what about single-game records and single-season records? We already know that Barrett's tied the single-game passing TD record this year, throwing for 6 in the Kent State game this year (Kenny Guiton threw for six last year against FAMU), passing Bobby Hoying's 1995 5-TD game against Pittsburgh.
Barrett's within spitting distance of matching Joe Germaine's 1998 passing yards record, too, particularly with the addition of the B1G Championship game and at least one bowl/playoff game on the horizon. Barrett's on pace for just shy of 3,200 passing yards now, Germaine's record is 3,330. Barrett's 330-yard passing game against Cincy this year puts him at 10th overall on the single-game passing record list, but he's on the cusp of surpassing the existing record of 30 TD-passes in a season, set by Troy Smith in 2006.
Now, just for fun, let's take a look at where Barrett sits in relation to the past four Heisman winners, each of whom was a quarterback who guided their team to massive success.
Barrett's squarely within the pack, roughly matching the best yardage of the group and just a half-dozen or so touchdowns off Manziel's total. Still think Barrett's a Heisman dark horse? Consider this: Marcus Mariota, the current front runner according to ESPN is only 277 yards ahead of Barrett in terms of total offense, and they're neck and neck for touchdowns. And Mariota's had three years in the Oregon program! What's more "outstanding," putting down good numbers as an upper-classman or crushing records as a redshirt freshman who didn't think he'd have to start this year? My Nissan vote goes to Barrett.
In what will likely be Barrett's worst year under center, he's logged numbers that obliterate what Ohio State's finest QBs have put up in prior years, is climbing the record charts for passing yards and TDs in a season, is basically matching the production of the last four Heisman QBs, and is one PSU-outlier away from running neck and neck with this year's Heisman front-runner.
The numbers don't lie: We've got a real star on our hands here.