Ohio State Football Recruiting: Why J.T. Barrett Is Hidden Gem of 2013 Class

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterFebruary 15, 2013

Photo via 247Sports.com
Photo via 247Sports.com

There are lots of superlatives flying around out there for Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class, and deservedly so. Scout.com ranks it the best in the nation. Rivals.com puts it at No. 2, behind only Alabama's mammoth class. ESPN.com? No. 3.

But even as ESPN.com lauds Ohio State's recruiting class (Insider access required) and names 12 different impact recruits, it somehow neglects to mention the guy in the class who's the best Heisman candidate of them all. You'd think people would notice someone like that.

That future Heisman candidate is J.T. Barrett, who committed to the Buckeyes back in April, then enrolled early in January absent any fanfare. His senior year was quiet on the field as well, as he tore his ACL and meniscus in October and sat out the rest of the year after surgery. So, obviously, Barrett will redshirt in 2013.

In 2014, though, Kenny Guiton will have graduated. If Braxton Miller doesn't leave early for the NFL—and what scouts think of his viability as an NFL QB ought to be fascinating—he'll be a senior by then.

The only QB Barrett will be competing with at that point is the highly-touted Cardale Jones. Like current WR Michael Thomas, Jones signed in 2011, but then attended Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling at OSU in January of 2012. He's one class ahead of Barrett, having redshirted last year, and he's got some serious skills too. But in terms of competition for being Ohio State's "QB of the future," that's basically it.

And while we really like Jones' frame (6'5", 235 pounds) and skill set (think Ben Roethlisberger—huge arm, great footwork in the pocket), there is one thing Barrett has going for him that Jones doesn't: Barrett looks like an Urban Meyer quarterback. Highlights are here:

Think of the great Urban Meyer quarterbacks—Braxton Miller, Tim Tebow and Alex Smith. All of them are more than competent throwers. More importantly, all of them are dual-threat QBs who can hurt opposing defenses with designed runs or scrambles out of the pocket.

What they did on those scrambles varies wildly per QB, of course. But the key common quality here is that they all added the versatility of their feet to the offense, and an Urban Meyer offense thrives on that versatility.

Barrett isn't lethally athletic like Miller, nor is he strong like Tebow. Who is, right? But he is a flat-out menace in the open field, showcasing agility that makes him every bit as slippery on contact as anyone Meyer's ever lined up at QB.

That's the kind of athleticism that turns a sack into a five-yard gain or a four-yard scramble into a chain-mover on 3rd-and-10. It keeps drives alive, and it frustrates the living hell out of the defense. And a frustrated defense is one that makes mistakes way too often.

Barrett's got an arm, too, and after a year or two of seasoning, he should be able to make any throw Miller or Tebow could when they were in college. Smith and his rifle are a different case, of course, but pardon us if we're not eager to compare anyone's arm to a QB who went first overall in an NFL draft quite yet.

The point is this: In an Urban Meyer-led offense, Barrett can do great things.

We've seen Meyer use QBs with similar skill sets to great success on several occasions—he's led two to undefeated seasons and two more to national championships. Barrett's right there. And if he can handle the workload Meyer tends to put on his workhorse QBs, there's a very good chance he could end up in New York one December day, waiting with a few other players to hear his name get called for the Heisman Trophy.