When the Student Becomes the Master By: Peter Snyder

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There are certain moments in our lives that define us. Both professionally and personally. For some, these moments of definition can be as simple as an “A” on an essay or a promotion for a job. For others, what defines us rings more personally, whether this is through the birth of our children or the marriage of our spouse. For Joe Burrow, however, this moment of characterization came on September 7, 2019, when the once backup QB from Ohio State, became the talk of a nation.

When Joe Burrow stepped on campus in Columbus during the fall of 2015, he knew he would not be promised much. The once 4-star recruit was not nationally ranked and was faced with better talent ahead of him on the depth chart. Aware of this, Burrow and the Buckeye coaching staff made the conscious decision to place Burrow on a redshirt for the 2015 season. Fast forward, and the fall of 2016 quickly made its way to town. Burrow found himself in quite a pickle. He had burnt his redshirt and had not made much progress in becoming the next Ohio State starting QB. Burrow believed in his own abilities, but head coach Urban Meyer was sold on his third year, dual-threat QB, J.T. Barrett. After two seasons of playing the backup role for Barrett and company, the young, pro-style QB decided he needed to make a change. In May of 2018, Burrow announced that he would be transferring to Lousiana State University.

Then, something crazy happened. When Burrow arrived in Baton Rouge he felt something that he had yet to feel during his entire collegiate career. Wanted. After an impressive summer camp, Burrow was named the starting QB and quickly become the center of the Tigers offense. In his first year as commander in chief, Burrow showed the entire state of Lousiana why he was the right man for the job. Week in and week out, the gunslinger from Ohio showed a competitive edge within himself that could be unmatched and by year’s end, the transfer QB had racked up a total of 2,894 passing yards, had thrown for 16 passing TD and had turned the ball over just 6 times. In just a year’s time, Burrow had transformed his reputation from a backup who got lucky to see the playing field, to a guy who was now considered as an above average SEC QB.

With this being said, Burrow was still not where he wanted to be. A problem with Burrow’s game last season was that he could not perform in the “big game.” During a 29-0 home loss against Alabama last season, Burrow managed to scrape up just 184 yards in the air and failed to put the ball in the end zone. Against Mississippi State, Burrow threw for a measly 129 passing yards in route to a sloppy 19-3 win. A narrative began to form by the media that stated that LSU’s football team was nothing more than a good defensive unit and until they got a “Real QB,” they would not be able to go anywhere near the CFP. Do not think these harsh words by the media went unheard by both the LSU program and to the ears of Burrow himself. That is why, September 7, 2019, will go down as the day Joe Burrow defined himself.

September 7, 2019. The LSU Tigers make the long trip to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns. Ranked 9th in the nation, the LSU Tigers, (Who were at the time, ranked 6th in the nation,) knew that they were going to be in for an absolute blood bath. If you read, watched or listened to any preview of the matchup, you would know that the only thing being discussed about the Tigers was their stifling defense. “Could the Tigers hold the Longhorns to under 10 points?’ “Could LSU’s defense stop the highly touted Longhorns QB, Sam Ehlinger?” “Which defense would come out as the true DBU.” Not a single word was mentioned about the senior QB from Ohio. So what did Burrow go out and do? He simply did what all greats do, ball like nobody is watching. Like an Olympic archer, Burrow’s accuracy and precision overwhelmed the Longhorns defense the entire night. It was as if he was performing brain surgery in front of 80,000 screaming fans with his eyes closed and not missing a beat. By game’s end, LSU had not only come away with a 45-38 road win, but Burrow had completed a stat line for the ages. 31/39, 471 passing yards, 4 TD passes.

Joe Burrow is no longer a backup. He is no longer a guy who has to worry about when he will see the field next. Burrow is now the center of attention. Along with being a good defensive team, LSU is now known as the team that has Heisman contender Joe Burrow on it. The media, who once didn’t even acknowledge Burrow as part of the team, now needs to wait in an hour long line just to blurt out a question to the big man on campus. Joe Burrow, welcome to your life defining moment.

 

 

 

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