Joe Burrow’s former Ohio State teammates weren’t able to catch any passes from him this week, but they were happy to get a chance to catch up with him at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“We just been talking, playing around like we used to in the dorms back in the day,” said receiver K.J. Hill. “So it’s great having him here and great seeing him.”
Now NFL Draft prospects, Burrow and Hill were both four-star freshman at Ohio State the class of 2015.
Hill became a contributor for the Buckeyes by 2017 and finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions.
Burrow had to go elsewhere to find fame, and he did just that.
As most football fans are fully aware by now, Burrow went to LSU and ultimately won the Heisman Trophy and a national title last season.
While those heights might have been hard to envision, another of his former Ohio State receivers, Austin Mack, recalled seeing potential in Burrow back on the practice field in Columbus.
“You knew what the guy was,” Mack said. “When it comes to like who Joe Burrow is today, he is who he was back in the day: A super hard, blue-collar, gritty guy who was going to work his ass off.
“All he needed was just the opportunity. And that’s the same for anybody that goes to Ohio State. They can ball anywhere. You just need the opportunity. So I’m super happy for him, to see where he’s at. His confidence is out the world right now, and it’s awesome to see.”
That confidence is something nearly everyone remarks about when describing Burrow as a prospect, and he traced its source back to Ohio State.
“The thing about the confidence, I think it starts in preparation, and I’m really confident in my preparation,” Burrow said. “I feel I prepare better than anybody else. That’s why I’m so confident. Because I feel I know what’s going to be happening on Saturdays before it happens. Hopefully I can carry it over to Sundays with the help of the coaches and the veterans.”
And where did he learn about the power of preparation? In meeting rooms with J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s starting quarterback for most of 2014-17.
“He prepared better than anybody I’ve ever been around and was super-confident as a result of it,” Burrow said of Ohio State’s all-time leading passer.
Aside from crediting Barrett with helping his development, Burrow also acknowledged appreciating the love Buckeye fans continued to show him even after he left Ohio State.
“That meant the world,” Burrow said. “I gave a lot to that program with my hard work. It didn’t show on the field, unfortunately, but I did a lot of work behind the scenes. For the fans to recognize that meant a lot to me and I really did take notice.”
•Although the Bengals are expected to use the No, 1 pick in April’s draft on Burrow because of the need for a franchise quarterback to build second-year coach Zac Taylor’s team around, many believe one of his former teammates is the most talented player in the draft.
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is comfortable with that designation.
“I definitely think I’m the best player in the draft,” Young said. “I think I showed it on my tape. You can go to every game. I think I showed it. I definitely think I’ll put my best foot forward this year. I grinded hard. Two of my biggest things are my hard work and dedication and I’m gonna bring those two to the NFL with me.”
He also brushed aside those who have used a lack of hard numbers in his last three games to question his status as a potential future All-Pro.
“I had a lot of quarterback hits, a lot of pressures,” he said. “If you know football, you would see that. You’ll see how they changed their whole offensive game plan for one guy. A lot of people might not know how to really study a tape or may not know how to watch football, but I made an impact in those games.”
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