Joe Burrow left the field at Ohio State on April 14, 2014, seconds after starting a four-meter block for the final game of the spring game. It was a foot shot.
Burrow was at the top of the Buckeyes ‘depth chart after finishing with 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the Buckeyes’ spring.
“Well, I came here to play,” Burrow said at the time. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench for four years, I know I’m a very good general, I want to play somewhere.”
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He found somewhere at LSU and the two-day trip took a turn when the Tigers hired the Saints to pass game coordinator Joe Brady in January. Burrow found more than just a new home. He took his game – and schedule – to the next level at a record-breaking time.
For his efforts, Burrow is the 2019 Sports Specialist of the Year in college football, while Billy Cannon (1958-59) and Bert Jones (1972) are the only LSU strategists to win the honor. Burrow did this by pulling LSU out of the shadow of Alabama to the SEC, helping the Tigers to their first SEC championship since 2011 and leading them to their first appearance in football.
He provided clues as to how the season can reach SEC Media Days:
“The only thing I saw (in the Alabama loss) is that people were able to get their players in space and create matchup problems for them,” Burrow said. “With what we have now and what we are going to do on the offensive side of the ball, I think that is what we will be really good at.”
The Tigers did just that under the combined efforts of Brady and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, helping Burrow to record SEC recordings in passing yards (4715) and touchdowns (48).
More importantly, Burrow was his best player on the big chessboard: He reached the Heisman Trophy with 471 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-38 win at No. 9 Texas, winning it by passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns on A 46-41 win over No. 1 Alabama and added one last point of emphasis with throwing for 349 yards and four more scores against No. 1 Alabama. Georgia 4 in the SEC Championship Game.
And when Burrow did when Heisman, he quickly came to thank the team that greeted him.
“All my teammates supported me and greeted me with open arms, a kid from Ohio who came down to Bayou – and welcomed me as a brother,” Burrow said.
This has become the dominant story of 2019. Burrow (or “Burreaux”) split the Heisman speech to touch his two homes: one in Southeast Ohio, where he began his career, and one in Southeast Louisiana, where he formed a bond. with coach Ed Orgeron. Burrow said he will lift Heisman for LSU, Ohio State, southeastern Ohio and all of Louisiana.
Said Burrow: “My trip, I wouldn’t have negotiated it for anything in the world.”
It will come full circle if LSU and Ohio State win the College Football Playoff semifinals. At this point, Burrow will have the opportunity to run a national championship.
That’s what he wanted to do together. He just had to find the right place to play.