Joe Burrow has risen from mid- to late-round obscurity to almost certainly the first overall pick to the Bengals in 2019 NFL Draft discussions in just a few short months. But how did that happen? Was he always good and everyone missed it? Did he develop into a true future NFL stud or was it just a young quarterback catching magic in a bottle for one spectacular season thanks to the cast surrounding him? Let’s figure this out together.
From the Beginning
As many may know by now, Burrow got a slow start in college recruiting. It wasn’t until after his junior season where he won Ohio High School Football Gatorade Player of the Year that Burrow saw any real Division I attention. But when it rained it poured. He went from a relative unknown in January of 2014 to a four star rating (from 247Sports), offers from a dozen top college football programs, and a commitment to Ohio State in just four months. And looking back now, we all should have known Burrow was going to be special just based on who was interested in recruiting him.
Lincoln Riley, the offensive coordinator for East Carolina back in 2014, was the man primarily responsible for one of Burrow’s very first Division I offers. Riley has of course coached Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts since then for Oklahoma.
Lane Kiffin, still at Alabama at the time, was trying to convince Burrow to consider joining the Crimson Tide.
But it was Tom Herman, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the time with Ohio State, who recruited Burrow to Ohio State.
Sadly, like many college stories told before, Herman left Ohio State (to become the head coach of the Texas Longhorns) before Burrow ever got a real chance to prove himself for the Buckeyes. Burrow took a redshirt season in 2015. Then he watched mainly from the sidelines in 2016 and 2017 in the shadow of J.T. Barrett’s epic college career. And when he finally should have had a chance to earn the Buckeyes quarterback job Burrow injured his throwing hand and saw Dwayne Haskins rise above him in the pecking order.
Thankfully, Burrow entered the transfer portal, found his way to LSU, and quickly put together one of the best college quarterbacking campaigns in history.
College Production and Rise to Stardom