After a disappointing end to a less than spectacular year, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has announced he will return for his final year of college football. After alluding to it after the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, Barrett made the decision official Wednesday.
With only one year left of eligibility, Barrett has one more chance to lead a maturing Ohio State team and finish his Buckeye career with anything other than a shutout. Finger-pointing aside, the quarterback had one of his worst games against Clemson — passing for only 127 yards with two interceptions and minus-2 rushing yards.
Barrett started off the season strong, with what ended up being a season-high of 349 passing yards in Week 1 against Bowling Green. He went on to complete 214 passes for 2,428 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season, while rushing for 847 yards and 9 scores. While his stats from 2016 aren’t considerably less than his breakout 2014 season — the offensive talent around him limited the overall production of those snaps.
To be fair, what Barrett was able to accomplish during the Buckeyes’ — much more successful — national championship run, elevated the expectations for him during his junior campaign. After being named the starter just weeks before the 2014 season, following Braxton Miller’s shoulder injury, Barrett went on to complete 203 passes for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. He also proved that a quarterback’s run game doesn’t have to be flashy to be productive, churning out an additional 938 rushing yards for 11 touchdowns.
The young quarterback’s confidence took a nosedive in 2015, when not only did he have to compete with Cardale Jones for the starting job, but lost it within days of the season opener. Ever the leader, Barrett helped Jones train and stepped in when the No. 1 struggled. By the end of the season, Barrett was back as the starter and Jones was headed to the NFL.
Now with a new offensive coordinator who once called him “the best quarterback in college football” and a new quarterbacks coach who helped salvage Colin Kaepernick’s career to boot, we’ll get to see if Barrett’s final act is his best one yet.