CINCINNATI (AP) — J.T. Barrett peeled off the orange No. 5 practice jersey, tossed it in a laundry bin and headed for the locker room. He stopped at one intersection and tried to get his bearings — he’d never had to navigate the Paul Brown Stadium passageways.
The record-setting Ohio State quarterback quickly found his way back to his locker and did a few interviews. That’s pretty much all that’s left for him to do between now and the NFL draft, when Barrett finds out whether he’ll get chosen in one of the later rounds or have to extend his career as a free agent.
“I don’t know if I’m out to prove anything or change people’s minds,” Barrett said. “What’s out there on me as far as tape — that’s who I am. I’m still striving to develop and get better. I don’t think I’m a finished product yet.”
The dual-threat quarterback worked out at the NFL combine and has been keeping in shape in Columbus. He was one of 35 local draft-eligible players who worked out for about 45 minutes at the Bengals’ stadium Tuesday in a cold, northern wind.
Barrett and Florida quarterback Malik Zaire threw passes to receivers from Thomas More, Cincinnati, Miami of Ohio, Kentucky and Akron. Barrett took snaps in a shotgun formation at Ohio State; Bengals coaches worked with him on his footwork Tuesday.
“I thought it was smooth,” he said. “They changed the footwork I’m normally accustomed to doing. I couple of throws I wish I had back, but it happens.”
Barrett won a school-record 38 games at Ohio State and was a key part of the 2014 national championship season. He took over when Braxton Miller suffered a shoulder injury and went 11-1 as the starting quarterback. He broke his right ankle in the fourth quarter of the final regular-season game against Michigan, and Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes the rest of the way to the title.
Last season, he struggled in losses to Oklahoma and Iowa. His inconsistency, his arm strength and his low completion percentage for downfield throws work against him in the draft.
NFL teams have suggested changes in how he gets ready to throw.
“Unless you’re some guy that has a funky release or a slow release and throwing motion, they don’t really try to touch your arm,” he said. “The biggest thing is the footwork and the hips.”
As a four-year starter at Ohio State, Barrett set school records for career passing yards, passing yards per game, completions, completion percentage, touchdown passes and total offense. He also holds numerous Big Ten records.
A few weeks ago, Barrett sat down for an interview with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who took over Jon Gruden’s “QB Camp” show on ESPN this year. Wilson interviewed four draft prospects for the show, which has been renamed “QB2QB” and airs this week for the first time.
“He was saying to be myself,” Barrett said. “He said it’s worked for you, continue to do that. He said to be yourself and everything will work out.”