The day was Thursday April 23, the time is 8:00 p.m. and the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock. The presumed number one pick Joe Burrow waited anxiously to finally hear his name called.
The 23-year-old who stands at 6’4 and 216 pounds is used to waiting to get his shot. After graduating from Athens High School, Burrow decided to take a risk and join Ohio State. During his freshman year Burrow was asked to redshirt and sit behind the likes of J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins. In the spring of 2017 Burrow had a chance to compete for the Buckeyes’ starting job against Haskins. Haskins ultimately pulled away in the competition, leading Burrow to transfer. Burrow got interest from Alabama, but not to be their starting quarterback. He then got in contact with Louisiana State University head coach Ed Orgeron and the rest is history. Orgeron offered Burrow a chance to compete for the starting job at LSU. Burrow was the exact thing the Tigers were looking for and little did they know how badly they needed him.
Burrow’s first year at LSU was solid for a first-year starter. He completed 57.8-percent of his passes while throwing for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Burrow’s coming out party did not happen until LSU took on the then-undefeated University of Central Florida in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. In probably the biggest game of his career to that point, Burrow proved he deserved to be the starting quarterback at LSU. Throwing for 394 yards and four touchdowns, both of which set new career highs for him, he led the team to victory in a 40-32 shootout.
Starting out the 2019 campaign, Burrow was given 200-1 odds to win the Heisman and he was seen only as a draft hopeful. Orgeron decided to bring in an Offensive Consultant in Joe Brady.
Brady brought his pro-style offense to LSU and it could not have been a more perfect fit for Burrow. The insertion of Brady’s offense was more pass-heavy and the numbers didn’t lie. Throwing for 4,715 yards, Burrow tossed 48 touchdown passes and only through six interceptions all year long, all while playing the best of the best and leading them to the College Football Playoff. This was the first time that LSU had made the Playoff since it debuted in 2014. In the first game, Burrow and the Tigers crushed the Oklahoma Sooners 63-28, throwing for 493 yards with seven touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown. After the drubbing of Oklahoma, Burrow had his sights set on the defending national champion Clemson Tigers. After falling behind early, he would rally the troops and come out firing, leading LSU to victory in a 42-25 bloodbath. Burrow threw for 463 yards, five passing touchdowns and a rushing TD.
After the championship game, there was no question what was coming next. The infamous Heisman Trophy had Burrow’s name all but written on it. Along with the Heisman, Burrow won the Walter Camp Award, given to the best player in all of college football, the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award. The best thing was yet to come from Burrow — raising almost half-a-million dollars for the food bank in Athens. Growing up in an extremely poor community, Burrow let it be known how little the community had in his Heisman speech.
Burrow was more than deserving of being the number-one pick, if not just for talent, he has proven that he is a leader off the field as well. By 8:10 p.m. on April 23, he finally heard his name called.
“With the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Joe Burrow, Louisiana State University.”
Skylar Shaffer is a graduating senior in the sports management program at Shawnee State University.