On Aug. 17, 2014, J.T. Barrett beat out Cardale Jones for the first time, becoming Ohio State’s backup quarterback behind Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller.
At the time Barrett’s accession to No. 2 on the depth chart was of note partially due to Miller’s injury history, but it was more of a testimate to Barrett’s future potential rather than immediate expectations. That all changed two days later when Miller was lost for the season after re-injuring his throwing shoulder during practice as Barrett went from third string to starter in 48 hours.
Barrett had less than two weeks to prepare for his first career start against Navy, but he still performed well enough to win as the Buckeyes overcame a 7-6 halftime deficit to top the Midshipmen, 34-17, in Baltimore.
The Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider High School product led Ohio State to an early 3-0 lead, but threw a first-half interception at the Navy eight-yard line and failed to get the Buckeyes into the end zone before the break.
The second half was a different story, though, as he threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard strike to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes ahead for good.
Barrett finished the game 12 of 15 for 226 yards and he carried the ball nine times for another 50 yards.
Head coach Urban Meyer described Barrett’s performance as OK, but noted the then-redshirt freshman’s composure.
“He was good,” Meyer said. “I never felt he was rattled.”
Barrett said his performance was “better at the end than the start,” and he conceded his interception came down to a poor decision.
“After the interception, I was like, ‘J.T. you knew you shouldn’t have thrown it,’” Barrett said. “And I still threw it.”
More than a year later, Barrett beat out Jones once again. The stakes were a bit different this time around, though, as Barrett went on to start 11 more games, winning 10, after his debut against Navy.
His 2014 season ended with a broken bone in his ankle against Michigan, but not before he could set numerous Ohio State and Big Ten records and eventually finish fifth in Heisman voting. Jones took over after the injury and won all three of the Buckeyes’ postseason games as they won the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship.
Jones kept the job this season and led the Buckeyes to a 7-0 start, but Barrett’s infusion into the offense against Maryland and Penn State has handed him the job back for Ohio State’s Saturday matchup at Rutgers.