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Joe Burrow College Career: The transformation from Bench Warmer to Heisman Trophy Winner

Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow will go down in history as the top draft pick at the 2020 NFL virtual draft. The Iowa born star achieved the honor on the back of a stupendous final collegiate season with the LSU Tigers, where he shattered many records. However, things were not as rosy for the Bengals quarterback when he was a college freshman and sophomore. 

A glance at his early college career stats after an impressive high school showing would lead many to regard Burrow’s position as a backup quarterback to be a criminal waste of promising talent. 

As the Athens High School quarterback, Burrow passed for 11,416 yards and registered 157 passing touchdowns. He made 670 completions from 977 attempts across three seasons. 

Like most modern quarterbacks, he offered a significant threat going forwards. Burrow rushed for 2,067 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. As a result, he landed offers from college sides all over and opted to sign with The Buckeyes. 

Joe Burrow at the Ohio State Buckeyes

Burrow red-shirted his freshman year in college and turned out at the Ohio Stadium in 2016. Here he featured as the backup to J. T. Barrett, who has never played in the NFL and went undrafted in the 2018 NFL draft. What an oversight by the Buckeyes! 

The freshman Burrow played in five games throughout the 2016 Big 10 season. In his limited opportunities, he made 22/28 passes at a 78.6% completion and had two passing touchdowns to his name. With 58 rushing yards, he ranked sixth when going forward and made one rushing touchdown. 

The next season, Burrow fell further in the pecking order as current Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins replaced him as Barrett‘s backup. 

As a third-choice quarterback, Burrow made just 11 passing attempts and amassed 61 passing yards. Incidentally, he shared a dressing room with a future No.2 NFL draft pick, Chase Young, for the campaign. 

The younger player, Haskins, grabbed his big break with both hands. He made a positive impression and kept his spot ahead of Burrow for the 2018 NCAA season.  

Seeing no breakthrough for regular football, Burrow departed Ohio State to secure game time and provide momentum to his college career. The transfer paid dividends and saw his stock skyrocket in the NCAA.

Joe Burrow dominates the NCAA with the LSU Tigers

Joe Burrow moved from the Big 10 to the SEC and turned out for Louisiana State University as the Tigers’ starting quarterback for 2018. He played in every game and completed 219 passes from 379 attempts for a 57.8% completion. When he turned out for his eleventh start of the season against the Rice Owls on November 17, 2018, he surpassed the total number of games he played as a substitute at Ohio State. 

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Joe Burrow threw 16 touchdown passes and a measly five interceptions in 2018. On the back of his performance, the LSU Tigers finished the regular season with a 9-3 SEC (West Division) record and earned a spot at the season’s Fiesta Bowl. 

Burrow’s performances may have led to The Buckeyes kicking themselves for not letting him prove himself. But, for the youngster, the best was yet to come as his 2018 season paled compared to his record-breaking senior year. 

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