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Tom Archdeacon: J.T. Barrett goes from ‘leap of faith’ to record OSU QB

As it turns out, Urban Meyer has something in common with the Teddy Bears of late 1950s fame and the Grammy-winning collaboration by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in the 1980s and more recently, a soulful effort by the late Amy Winehouse.

The musicians all had a hit with the song, “To Know Him Is To Love Him.”

And Saturday – after Ohio State ran roughshod over Rutgers, 58-0, at Ohio Stadium — the Buckeyes coach didn’t quite break into song, but he was close.

You could sum up his post-game gush with the final refrain from the Teddy Bears’ No. 1 hit in 1958:

“To know, know, kno-oow him, is to love, love lo-oove him

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“And I do.

“Yes, I do.”

The object of Meyer’s affection was OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett, who threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns and shattered the school record for career TD passes.

The old mark was held by Bobby Hoying, the Buckeye quarterback from St. Henry, who had 57 TD tosses. Terrelle Pryor later tied that record, but 27 of them from 2010 were later wiped out by NCAA sanctions.

A junior redshirt quarterback, Barrett tied the record with his second touchdown toss Saturday, a 14-yard connection with wide receiver Terry McLaurin with 5:41 left in the half. Then just about 3 ½ minutes later he broke the mark with a 16-yard TD strike to tight end Marcus Baugh.

For good measure, he added another TD pass – the 59th of his career – when he connected with running back Curtis Samuel for a five-yard score with just 11 seconds left in the half.

He almost certainly would have had more scores Saturday, but the game was such a rout that he was replaced by back-up quarterback Joe Burrow.

Barrett said he knew nothing about the record going into the game.

“I’m not really a records guy,” he said. “I don’t think about records or anything like that. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna throw a lot of touchdown passes today.’ I’m just trying to do my part the best I can for the team and with that came the record.”

While he said he hadn’t focused on his growing career numbers, neither does he know an abundance of what happened with the Buckeyes in the past:

“It’s a crazy thing, but I say it all the time: ‘I’m just a young cat from Wichita Falls, Texas.’ I didn’t know a lot about Ohio State, honestly, before Coach Meyer got me here.

“With that, I am learning on the fly about all the history and the great things that are a part of Ohio State.

“And I know (the record) is just a great honor, being that our tradition here at Ohio State is so rich in everything. … There are so many great players who have (come) through Ohio State. To be a part of it is just a surreal thing.”

Meyer, on the other hand, knows Ohio State history and tradition. He grew up a Buckeye, was an assistant coach under Earle Bruce – who he called his “mentor” Saturday – and now, as head coach, has turned the program into a perennial national power like it was in the 1970s.

“J.T, Barrett broke the record,” Meyer said at the outset of his post-game press conference Saturday. “I’m an Ohio State fan, so I know all the great quarterbacks at Ohio State, All the great players. And to see J.T. Barrett throw 60 (59 actually) in 21 starts, averaging almost three touchdowns a game, that’s an incredible feat. And he’s still got a lot of football left.”

But the Bucks coach admitted he was singing a little different tune before he got to know Barrett:

“Tom Herman and Trent Dilfer were responsible for us signing that kid. It was my first year. I said, ‘I need to see you throw.’ But for some reason that didn’t happen. And we started losing (other) commitments at quarterback right away.”

“And Tom said. ‘We should take this guy.’ I said, ‘What’s his name again?’”

“He said, ‘J.T. Barrett’”

Meyer said Dilfer then saw him and sold him on the kid, as well.

“He’s the first quarterback I ever signed that I never saw throw,” Meyer admitted. “That was a leap of faith.”

The problem was although Barrett had a great junior season at S.H. Rider High in Wichita Falls, he tore his ACL in October of his senior season and his prep career promptly ended.

Although he healed fine, Meyer had no chance to see him in action before he got to Columbus.

Barrett laughed when told of Meyer’s post game comments, but said the coach wasn’t too impressed the first time he actually watched his young Texas recruit in action.

“This is a great story,” Barrett grinned.” It was the first day of spring ball and I threw a corner route that was like five yards in front of the guy. It was awful. Just an awful pass!

“And he was like, ‘Who brought in this guy?’”

Barrett started laughing: “I ain’t gonna say what he exactly said, but it was like,

‘Who brought this guy here ‘cause he can’t play quarterback here!’

“He made it seem like, ‘You’re an awful person because you meant to do that.’”

Barrett said inside he was thinking: “No, when I throw the ball, I mean to complete it.”

So did he say anything?

“No, I just walked away with my head down.”

As he looked back on that moment and then fast-forwarded to the game he had just played, he started to smile.

“Honestly, my first year here – when I redshirted in 2013 – if you’d have said to me that I’d be here talking about my record for touchdown passes I might have called you a liar.”

He said he listened to what the coaches said and believed in them

“Look what’s happened.”

He took over for the injured Braxton Miller in 2014 and set an OSU and Big Ten record for total TD passes in a season with 44. He would have had more had he not broken his ankle in the Michigan game.

After that, Cardale Jones led the team to the national title and was awarded the starting job briefly last season until he stumbled and Barrett took back over for good.

Saturday, Meyer said he’s a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate.

Although Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the front runner and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, a solid No. 2, Barrett is right on their heels and has plenty opportunity to move up.

Barrett doesn’t like to engage in any of the Heisman speculation:

“I just focus on the team and winning each and every week and with that comes along the Heisman. But you can’t make that your entire focus or it might throw you off your game.”

And with that he excused himself and headed out to meet his family, who had come in from Houston. He said they’d go to dinner, then he’d come back home and “watch some ball.”

“I’ll probably get some Honey Buns, too,” he grinned. “I just love those Honey Buns.”

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