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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'J.T. are you really playing well enough to be the starter?'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — Following the 2014 season where quarterback J.T. Barrett was a First-Team All-B1G performer and quarterback Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to three postseason wins and a national title, everyone knew that there would be some interesting times ahead once the 2015 season got underway.

When Jones ultimately won the job and Barrett watched from the sidelines, despite his accepting demeanor, the decision was not easy for the redshirt sophomore to take. He did, however, learn quite a bit about himself from it.

"I wasn't playing great at the beginning of the year so it was not like I should have been the starter because I was not playing well," Barrett said. "I think one of the main things I found out about myself is just that I have got to be ready to face things in your career and life and things are going to happen and you just have got to stay patient and be ready and don't get stressed out.

"I feel like I put a lot of stress on myself in that I was not playing like I would like, but then I had to think about it after awhile and it was just like, 'J.T. are you really playing well enough to be the starter?' So with that, just being honest with yourself and talking to Coach Beck and Coach Meyer and them being honest with me and I wasn't (playing well enough). Those are just different lessons you learn that I think helped me through this year."

Ohio State junior safety Tyvis Powell wanted to be a Buckeye long before he ever thought that it was even possible. And even as a collegiate prospect in high school, before he was getting interest from Ohio State, he has said that he would have walked on for the opportunity to become a Buckeye. It obviously never came to that, however.

Now Powell is a fourth-year junior who has already graduated. He has experienced an undefeated season in 2012, heartbreak in 2013, a national title in 2014, and now in 2015 he is trying to lead this team to a strong finish. Even despite the disappointment two years ago, he still managed to land himself in Buckeye lore by ending the game against Michigan with an interception on a two-point conversion.

"I can tell you, I can check off a lot of things on my list," he said. "I’ve actually done that a couple of times. I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve accomplished. The number one thing is definitely to get the degree for Mother, and believe it or not, the second thing was to become a captain, and when I got elected captain that was big relief. So there’s a lot of things that I wanted to do when I was here that I actually have accomplished already."

Given what Powell has accomplished, and the way he talks about his time at Ohio State, you can't help but wonder if maybe he is playing in his last game as a Buckeye on Friday despite having another year of eligibility to work with.

Being a couple of Midwestern powers, many players from Notre Dame and Ohio State were recruited by both of the schools, and there are a lot of friends and acquaintances mixed among both teams.

For instance, former Buckeye tight end Jeff Heurman's brother Mike plays for Notre Dame. For a while, there were many who believed Mike would ultimately end up at Ohio State and he visited Columbus many times, making plenty of friends along the way. One of his friends is Joey Bosa, who himself will have a younger brother playing at Ohio State next season.

"Yeah, I was pretty excited about this matchup first of all because one of my buddies, Jeff Heuerman, obviously you know him, but his little brother Mike I’ve know him for a while now," Bosa said. "He was probably the first person I texted when I found out about the matchup."

Who does Bosa think Jeff Heuerman will be rooting for in the Fiesta Bowl?

"I mean, I hope us," he said.

For Taylor Decker, however, his connections at Notre Dame run a little deeper because at one time he was a Notre Dame verbal commitment. In fact, had Urban Meyer not come to Ohio State, Decker would be a senior at Notre Dame right now.

"Super ironic," is how Decker put it. "If we didn’t make the playoff, this is the game I wanted. I wanted to play Notre Dame. It is just kind of odd that I almost started my career there, and now I am going to end my career playing them. It’s kind of cool."

Like Bosa, Decker knows a handful of Irish players, or at least he did.

"There are guys I know," he said. "Nick Martin, he hosted me on my official visit there. Ronnie Stanley, he was there when I was on my official visit. So I know some of the guys there, but don’t necessarily keep in touch. You get to your own school, you are friends with the guys on your own team and you are just busy. They are good players and I wish em well."

Speaking of being a Notre Dame recruit, did you know that the Irish also wanted to land Joey Bosa? They offered him and wanted to get more involved, but he nipped that one in the bud pretty quickly.

"I actually just emailed them and said I wasn’t interested," he said. "I don’t like to beat around the bush with things. Growing up a little bit I was into Notre Dame, but I never really thought of going there."

Player profiles relevant to story:
16 - Barrett, J.T. | 23 - Powell, Tyvis | 97 - Bosa, Joey
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