For J.T. Barrett, the 2015 football season probably could have gone better.
After an up and down battle with Cardale Jones, an OVI incident and a lack of consistency on the field all season, Barrett is starting to ease back into a comfort zone as the lone starter in 2016.
His role as a leader has made the transition come full circle as he reclaims his starting spot, Barrett said.
“Last year we had a lot more older guys, of course, whereas this year I’m trying to help the young guys get up to our standard of how we play here at Ohio State and make sure that they understand we don’t have rebuilding years and the expectations are not going to change because y’all don’t have experience,” Barrett said. “We’re going to try to do our best to make sure that you get that in camp and practice and it’s your job to make sure you come to play.”
His head coach Urban Meyer expressed confidence in the redshirt-junior and his leadership, and said that the Ohio State offense is Barrett’s to run.
“I anticipate he'll be as good a quarterback as we've had,” Meyer said. “It's his show and he knows it and he's prepared.”
It is not just Barrett that will have the pressure taken off of him in 2016. His position coach Tim Beck was also thrown into a difficult situation in 2015, having to prepare two different signal callers week in and week out.
As the Sept. 3 opener against Bowling Green draws closer, Barrett said he believes the weight of last year’s pressure is not only lighter on his shoulders, but Beck’s as well.
“I think where he’s at right now, we’re on the same page as far as where we want to be as an offense and what it’s going to take to get there,” Barrett said. “I think with him having a year under his belt in our offense, he’s definitely going to be able to help me out and make sure I get in a rhythm at the beginning of games. Different things to make sure I can play at my best.”
Beck came under fire last season after both Barrett and Jones struggled following the success the duo had under Tom Herman.
Barrett however took most of the blame on himself, saying he began to overthink instead of simply reacting to plays like he did in 2014.
“Coach Beck told me the same thing (as Coach Herman). He was like ‘Hey, sometimes you are overthinking things.’ Even sometimes in the spring, I feel like I had all this new knowledge or something, being that I am a quarterback and can solve things,” Barrett said. “I would be thinking, ‘I’ve got ‘em (the defense) now,’ and I would overthink myself and look silly.”
It is not just the coaches that are noticing Barrett’s comfortability in his role, but his peers as well. Fellow captain and starting center Pat Elflein is one of the few returning starters that has extensive playing time with Barrett and said he has picked up some of his own leadership skills from the Buckeye signal caller.
“I mean, he’s already done a lot of things,” Elflein said. “He’ already a captain. Teaching, being a leader, I’m learning a lot from J.T. now and being a captain now and following his lead. J.T. is J.T., he’s leading the Buckeyes and training hard and setting examples. He’s having a good summer.”