Joe Burrow is such a competitor that, although he threw six touchdown passes in the 2014 state championship game, he was still torn up by the fact that Toledo Central Catholic had downed his Athens squad 56-52.
The worst day of his life, he called it.
There weren’t many bad days his senior year. That’s for sure. The Bulldogs went 14-1 and set a state record in Ohio by scoring 861 points.
Burrow himself had 4,437 yards and 63 touchdowns while recording just two interceptions that season. He was named Ohio’s Mr. Football. When Ohio State’s offensive coordinator Tom Herman saw him, he called Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer to tell him, “I found your next Alex Smith.”
Despite all that, and the fact that he was considered a four-star prospect, Burrow was not the most hyped quarterback in the 2015 OSU recruiting class. That distinction belonged to Torrance Gibson, the athletic signal caller out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida who is now a wide receiver on the roster of the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos.
Burrow knew he would have to beat out Gibson. He also knew he was joining a team whose lineup already included Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Barrett had three years of eligibility left at that point.
“I’m ready to compete,” Burrow told reporters. “I’ll be ready to compete for the starting job in a couple years. I’m very confident in my abilities.”
He was unafraid; he was also very smart. As befits a coach’s son (his father, Jimmy, is Ohio University’s defensive coordinator), he came in with a backup plan, should his original play break down.
Burrow worked hard in the classroom to graduate in just three years with a degree in family resource management, knowing that would allow him to leave as a grad transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
During the three years he was a Buckeye, Burrow saw limited action, completing 29 of 39 career passes for two touchdowns and 287 yards.
He was Barrett’s backup as a redshirt freshman. During his redshirt sophomore campaign, he and Dwayne Haskins competed for the second spot on the depth chart until Burrow broke his hand during an August workout.
With Burrow healthy once more, the battle between him and Haskins resumed this spring with the right to be Barrett’s successor on the line. To hear coach Meyer tell it, nobody had run away with the job by the end of drills.
That was apparently not what Burrow wanted to hear.
“I came here to play,” he said after the Ohio State spring game. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years and I know I’m a pretty darn good quarterback and I want to play somewhere.”
So now he will play at LSU, and the Tigers are getting a very driven and savvy signal caller.
(You can follow Lori Schmidt on Twitter @LoriSchmidt)
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.