Mark my words: J.T. Barrett will go down as the best quarterback in Ohio State University history.
That’s not exactly a bold proclamation. He might be there already.
For now, though, we’re reserving that judgment until he finishes his senior season, which should have the Buckeyes strongly in the running for a national title. Barrett is already on everyone’s preseason short list for the Heisman Trophy.
It has been a fascinating career for Barrett, who suffered an injury against Michigan that ended his freshman season. Then he watched as one-time third-stringer Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Conference title and the national championship in 2014.
Barrett was challenged during a star-crossed 2015 season, when he alternated between backup and starter. Last season, he helped the Buckeyes back to the College Football Playoff, but the final taste was bitter, a 31-0 defeat against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl’s national semifinal.
He has weathered injuries, depth-chart controversy and fan criticism. Still, Barrett already has produced 100 total touchdowns, an Ohio State career record, and 69 career touchdown passes, another program mark. He needs 1,067 yards to become the program’s all-time passing leader.
He’s going to be No. 1.
He might already be No. 1.
But we’re not going there — yet — not until next season is done.
Although this isn’t as interesting as ranking Ohio State’s all-time best running backs — Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Ezekiel Elliott, — here is our subjective list of the Buckeyes’ five best non-Barrett QBs of all time.
1. Troy Smith (2003-06) — He was the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, when he produced 30 touchdown passes and a riveting 42-39 win against Michigan in that season’s No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown. The final act was not pretty — a 41-14 defeat against Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators in the BCS Championship Game — but it can’t erase all the good that Smith accomplished.
2. Terrelle Pryor (2008-10) — It’s a tough call, but we’ll go with Pryor, an amazing 6-foot-6, 230-pound dual-threat quarterback who was 31-4 as a starter on the field. Of course, he will be remembered for some NCAA infractions that led to many of those victories being vacated. He passed for a career 6,177 yards and accounted for 74 total touchdowns.
3. Braxton Miller (2011-15) — This is a curious case. When Meyer took over at Ohio State, Miller led the Buckeyes to 24 consecutive victories (before losing in the Big Ten title game and the Orange Bowl). He lost his entire 2014 season to injury, then shifted to wide receiver in 2015. Still, he will go down as one of the most effective running quarterbacks (3,314 rushing yards) in NCAA history.
4. Art Schlichter (1978-81) — His career took on tragic overtones in the NFL due to his gambling addiction and prison sentence, but he was a four-year starter while working under coaches (Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce) who preferred the run. He’s still the Ohio State all-time passing leader with 7,547 yards and had a 458-yard passing game against Florida State in 1981.
5. Bobby Hoying (1992-95) — Perhaps one of the most underrated players on this list, Hoying had a remarkably consistent career with 7,232 passing yards and 57 touchdown passes.
Others should be honorably mentioned:
Joe Germaine (1996-98) was a brilliant passer. Craig Krenzel (2000-03) helped to orchestrate an unforgettable 14-victory national-title season in 2002. As a sophomore, Rex Kern (1968-70) was in charge of the 1968 Buckeyes, an undefeated national-title team of mythical proportions.
Barrett will be mentioned, too — quite prominently, in fact.
When his career ends — barring something completely unexpected — he will be the best-ever quarterback at Ohio State. It’s only a matter of time.