Don't be too concerned about 4-star quarterback J.T. Barrett's knee injury that may sideline him for his freshman season with the Ohio State Buckeyes. If his high school conduct is any indication, he will still find ways to contribute and eventually succeed Braxton Miller as OSU's starting signal-caller.
According to 247Sports.com's composite rankings, Barrett is the nation's No. 2 rated dual-threat QB prospect and has already enrolled early in Columbus.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, he doesn't have the most prototypical size for a quarterback, but any lack of stature is made up for with outstanding intangibles. Barrett's Rider High School (Wichita Falls, Texas) head coach Jim Garfield did nothing to extinguish the hype (h/t ESPN):
His leadership skills are immeasurable...He was our captain. He was our emotional leader. He's a leader by his mouth and his actions. With his leadership ability and his sacrifice for team, that's what I believe helped us get where we were at.
We never missed a beat when he got hurt, not one beat, and I believe he's the reason we got into the semifinals -- and that's a crazy thought. Think about that. If we have him, we probably win the state championship.
Garfield is referencing the torn ACL that Barrett suffered back in October, which essentially cost the Raiders a shot at the state title. However, the fact that Garfield praised Barrett's ability to mentor his teammates despite not taking the field with them confirms his renowned leadership.
Head coach Urban Meyer glowed about Barrett's work ethic in the same ESPN piece by Austin Ward:
I'm hoping he brings a little something that our quarterback position can use, and that's a grinder, a guy that's just nonstop. You know, the [guys like former Utah quarterback] Alex Smith -- they wake up in the morning and they're a quarterback all day long. They go to sleep and the next day they wake up again and they're a quarterback all day long.
It's high praise to garner a comparison from Smith, who led the Utes to an undefeated season under Meyer, became the No. 1 overall pick and has recently thrived with the San Francisco 49ers.
Miller undoubtedly has the stranglehold on the position, and the backup slot is secure with Kenny Guiton. However, Meyer did mention that Barrett will be ready to throw during the Buckeyes' offseason program.
That gives him the opportunity to continue polishing his skills as a passer, which is already his strength. Despite possessing 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, it is Barrett's prowess from the pocket that has evaluators particularly excited.
Will J.T. Barrett be the next great Buckeyes QB?
Having played in a spread offense in high school, Barrett's skill set should transfer nicely to the Buckeyes' attack. With big throwing windows and a quick release, there should be no issues for Barrett in making the transition to the speedier college game.
The mobility Barrett possesses, though, allows him to make something happen when the play breaks down, and he is exceptional at connecting on the deep ball and throwing on the run.
Although he doesn't have the strongest arm, there is still plenty of time for Barrett to grow. As he goes through rehabilitation and focuses on exercise, he should only get stronger. Plus, the natural touch he has on all his passes will compensate for any lack of zip on the ball.
He should face competition from sophomore-to-be Cardale Jones, who is a physical specimen but drew the ire of many after tweeting that classes are pointless this past season (h/t ESPN.
There isn't much not to like about Barrett, though. With some grooming and time to learn behind one of the premier QBs in the country in Miller, he should be plenty prepared to take the reins as the Buckeyes' leader soon enough.