Joe Burrow keeping in shape in hometown during pandemic

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after LSU defeated Clemson 42-25 in the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, in New Orleans. Imagine if a pandemic had shortened or wiped out that last, golden season for Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy and led LSU to the national championship. Would he still have emerged as the first overall NFL draft pick? (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after LSU defeated Clemson 42-25 in the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, in New Orleans. Imagine if a pandemic had shortened or wiped out that last, golden season for Burrow, who won the Heisman Trophy and led LSU to the national championship. Would he still have emerged as the first overall NFL draft pick? (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Burrow’s dad Jim thankful his son has place to practice

Like almost everyone else, Joe Burrow has kept in touch with the outside world — the Cincinnati Bengals, in particular — through Zoom meetings this spring and summer.

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“Thank goodness for Zoom,” his dad Jim said, “but it’s been a little weird for him to be in all those meetings.”

Jim Burrow gave an update on his son, the No. 1 draft pick in April, during his own Zoom meeting with a group of high school and college students and several professionals Thursday as part of the Ohio University High School Journalism Workshop, which was conducted remotely this year instead of on campus in Athens.

The Burrows live in The Plains, the small town just north of Athens off Route 33. They moved to the area when Jim got a job on Frank Solich’s football staff at Ohio, and they remained there when Jim retired and Joe’s career took off at LSU. Joe has stayed in area throughout the coronavirus pandemic, preparing for his first NFL season.

“Initially, there was no place to throw,” Jim said. “Everything was shut down and then we had a local school, a few miles from from Athens, that was able to let him throw. But there for a while, he was just moving around to different places.”

Burrow first practiced at the field where he played in third and fourth grade. He had two receiving targets: twin brothers Adam and Ryan Luehrman, redshirt senior tight ends at Ohio who played with Burrow at Athens High School. They have continued to catch passes from him.

“They’ve caught more balls from Joe since third grade than probably anybody ever has,” Jim said.

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Eventually, Joe was able to work out at the stadium at Athens High School in The Plains. He throws. He’s able to do some strength training. He’s also working on plays the Bengals have sent him, Jim said.

Joe goes to the high school with a script of plays and works with Athens head coach Nathan White, who was the offensive coordinator when Joe was in school.

Although Joe had to watch the NFL Draft from home and has missed out on offseason workouts in Cincinnati because of the pandemic, it has been an eventful time for him.

In May, as protests spread after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Joe lent his voice to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The black community needs our help,” he wrote on Twitter. “They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights.”

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Joe did not tell his parents he was going to do that, Jim said, or even the marketing agency that manages him. Jim saw it online first just like everyone else.

“You know if you believe in something, no matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran or what,” Jim said, “and you feel you can have an impact if you say something, then you put it out there. We’ve always been proud of Joe because he has always been somebody that cared about different social things that maybe other people wouldn’t wouldn’t really want to get involved in, and he speaks his mind.”

Joe did the same during his Heisman speech in December when he talked about the hunger issues in Southeast Ohio. The mention led to a movement that helped raise more than $500,000 for the Athens County Food Pantry.

On Thursday, Joe announced a partnership with the Athens County Food Pantry & Foundation for Appalachian Ohio in conjunction with the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund.

» RELATED: Burrow revered in his hometown

Jim had no idea his son would use his Heisman speech to put the spotlight on that issue. He remembers asking Joe what he planned to talk about and seeing a note card on which Joe had written down a few key points he wanted to make.

Earlier this spring, Jim found that note card in a suit Joe had brought back from Baton Rouge, La.

“Just looking at it, you’re going, ‘Wow, the impact that this one little bullet point about thanking Southeast Ohio had is pretty amazing,” Jim said. “We put that in a safe by the way — just to have it forever.”