Barrett Hoping To Forge Own Path At OSU

Given Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider's proximity to Baylor's campus, quarterback J.T. Barrett is often compared to former Golden Bears signal caller Robert Griffin III. Barrett, however, understands the comparison is more about convenience than accuracy.

J.T. Barrett knows his constant comparison to former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is more convenient than it is accurate.

The comparisons to perhaps the most exciting player in college football a year ago could be more because Barrett's high school – Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider – is only four hours north of Baylor's campus.

"It'd be like comparing Vince Young to Colt McCoy," Rider head coach Jim Garfield told BSB. "I don't think it'd be a fair deal. What I do see, comparison-wise, is that they're both great leaders."

Being mentioned in the same sentence as Griffin – affectionately referred to as RG3 – makes for quite the compliment to Barrett. Remember, the Washington Redskins thought highly enough of Griffin to trade up in the draft to select him, sending an unprecedented three first-round picks and a second-round selection to the St. Louis Rams in order to do so.

Barrett, of course, is immensely athletic, which is why he was successful enough as a dual-threat quarterback to be offered a scholarship to play at Ohio State. However, Barrett hasn't made a conscious effort to emulate the way Griffin plays the game.

"A lot of people talked about me being the next RG3, but I don't really want to follow in somebody's footsteps," Barrett told BSB. "I just want to create my own path."

Had Barrett wanted to be the next Griffin, he had the opportunity. Coming off an impressive 10-3 season capped by an Alamo Bowl win over Washington, Baylor offered Barrett a scholarship hoping he'd be the next to lead the program in its efforts to continue trending upward.

The Bears weren't alone in offering Barrett a scholarship. Rated by as the No. 8 quarterback in the 2013 class, Barrett pulled down a multitude of offers, including ones from Arizona, LSU, Nebraska, Texas Tech and others before ultimately selecting the Buckeyes.

Barrett points to the family atmosphere at Ohio State as the main reason he quickly chose to become a Buckeye. Forging his own path will just be an added benefit to attending college across the country.

"It wasn't that hard being compared to RG3," Barrett said. "I felt like wherever I went – Ohio State, Arizona, Connecticut – I wanted to just go to the best place for me and where I'd fit best not just for football but academically. I want to be successful in every phase of life."

Don't take Barrett's decision to attend Ohio State as a deliberate attempt to escape comparisons, especially because he'll immediately be associated with another dual-threat quarterback the second he steps foot on campus in Columbus.

That's because Ohio State's coaching staff likely views the 6-2, 205-pound prep star as the replacement for current starter Braxton Miller. Miller, now only a sophomore, still is in the early portions of his career at Ohio State and looks to be in position to hold his spot as the team's starting signal caller for at least the next two years.

"He's always been able to separate himself from comparisons," Garfield said of Barrett. "We've always discussed the comparisons to other quarterbacks or if Ohio State signs another quarterback how he was going to handle something like that. The young man is a competitor. He's focused on what he has to accomplish."

Perhaps Barrett has removed himself from indulging himself in those comparisons because he hopes to play like someone else – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Known for his innate ability to read defenses, Manning is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback regarded by most as one of the best signal callers in the NFL.

Manning, however, has never been a running threat, instead using his precision passing to dissect opposing defenses. Barrett hopes to model his game after Manning, not Michael Vick, the NFL's ultimate dual-threat quarterback.

"That's the quarterback's job – to pass the ball and get it downfield," Barrett said. "I want to get the ball to the receivers and let them make plays. That's what playing quarterback is all about."

Barrett's athleticism is evident in his numbers. In his junior season a year ago, Barrett threw for 1,605 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 1,510 yards while leading the Raiders to the Texas 4A regional final.

Those who have watched Barrett perform have noticed his outward leadership. His ability to take charge in all situations is a tangible quality.

"You know that ‘it' factor that people talk about? When people say a person has ‘it,' J.T. does," Garfield said. "It's hard to explain because it's not just his presence in the offensive huddle, it's his presence on the whole team. You'll have kids that will try to say something positive or try to be a leader but not all ears will listen. With J.T. it's been totally different. When he speaks, everyone listens."

With that in mind, Barrett could be better prepared than the average recruit for the pressures associated with performing for a big-time collegiate program out of state.

Under the new coaching staff – particularly with the aid of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman – the Buckeyes are trying to re-establish themselves as contenders for the top talent in the state of Texas.

Given the vast infrastructure of high school football in the state, players are often exposed to the rigors of college football long before those opportunities present themselves. Because of that, Garfield feels as if Barrett will be more prepared to step in early at Ohio State and contribute.

"The things that we do here to develop our athletes for the next level are unbelievable," Garfield said. "The weight rooms, the camps they attend, all the combines that are provided for these young men – it's crazy. It's guys like Tom Herman, who is recruiting J.T., that bring in an idea of a game plan.

"Coach Herman talks about plays and (we're) on the cutting edge all the time at the high school level because of all the college guys that come in. Not just in game planning, but in strength and conditioning as well as academic success, social success and things of that nature."

Barrett is accepting of whatever awaits when he does make the trek to Columbus.

"If I do have to sit a couple years behind (Miller), I'll work to get better and then be a starter eventually," Barrett said. "But I am just focused on getting better and competing."

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