Joe Burrow’s family embraces long road from Athens, to OSU, to LSU


ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — Jimmy Burrow had a decision to make after the 2018 football season. He had served as the defensive coordinator at Ohio University for 14 years, alongside head coach Frank Solich. He loved his job, but he loved his son more.

So Jimmy retired from OU and decided to spend the 2019 football season in a different capacity: Dad.  He and his wife spent this football season following their son to his games, all across the South.

“Frequent flyer miles, putting miles on my car, all the above… and the journey continues,” Jimmy says.

This Saturday, Burrow will be in New York City with his family to watch his son, in all likelihood, win the Heisman Trophy.

Joe Burrow is the youngest son in a true football family, and he’s already a legend in his hometown of Athens. Joe, the quarterback at LSU, led the Tigers to a 13-0 season, an SEC Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff as the #1 ranked team. He threw for 48 touchdowns and more than 4700 yards, both school and SEC records.

But Burrow’s stardom came from frustrating roots. After being named Mr. Football in Ohio in 2014 and leading Athens to the OHSAA State Championship Game, he signed with Ohio State.

“If you had to do it all over again, in high school that’s where he’d go again. And to see where what led. The decision could not have turned out better for him.” Jimmy says.

Burrow decided after spring football in 2018 to transfer out of OSU, after falling short in a battle with Dwayne Haskins for the starting quarterback job.

“It was a tough process on us all because nobody wanted to leave. We didn’t want him to leave… 70 miles away…  he loved his teammates there at Ohio State. And so that was a 2 to 3 week process for him just to sort through it.” Jimmy says.  “He always had confidence, even before he left Ohio State, he thought in his mind he was good enough to lead Ohio State to a national championship. We knew as parents… that he was capable of playing big-time college football.  That was our belief, we just knew that he needed an opportunity.”

LSU was that opportunity.

Burrow is now a legend in Baton Rouge, and will likely become the first LSU Heisman Trophy winner since Billy Cannon in 1959.

While Burrow left home, his home fans and teammates have not left him. Signs are posted around Athens supporting Burrow. Many of his former OSU teammates stay in touch, including former quarterback teammates Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Barrett has attended some of Burrow’s games in Baton Rouge. Burrow himself regularly writes on Twitter about Ohio State and communicates with his former teammates online.

“He’s got everlasting friends with those teammates at Ohio State.” Jimmy says.  “There’s a bond there that really will never be broken.”

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