"I am not going to stop shooting. I'm a shooter."
When LSU QB Joe Burrow was in 5th grade, he told his father those 10 words. Stepping in as the interim coach of his son’s basketball team, Jimmy Burrow - Joe’s dad - wanted his son to stop taking aggressive shots. Joe straight up refused.
It’s been roughly a decade since that elementary school game, and Burrow still brings that confidence and bravado everywhere he goes.
Beating two Top 10 teams, garnering Heisman buzz, and even receiving 1st overall pick interest during his magical 2019 season, that same shooter’s mentality has worked out pretty darn well for Burrow.
He’s a fiery and passionate person, and the star signal-caller is going to let the rest of the world know it - both on and off the field.
Burrow, despite his recent glory, had quite the turbulent start to his football journey. Coming out of Athens, Ohio, he posted over 11,000 passing yards and 184 total touchdowns in his high school career - and was extremely sought after by the hometown Buckeyes as a result.
Leading his team to 3 straight playoff appearances and 7 playoff victories - the only 7 in school history - Burrow finished the recruiting cycle with a 3-star grade, and according to Rivals’ scouting services, ranked as the 24th overall QB in the 2015 class. The passer would go on to sign with Ohio State, but things didn’t go quite as planned.
Redshirting his first year on a loaded Buckeye squad, Burrow worked on his game from the sidelines, watching reigning national champion Cardale Jones and savvy veteran J.T. Barrett duke it out for the coveted starting spot. Rotating between Jones and Barrett throughout the year, coach Urban Meyer had to make difficult decisions all season, and thankfully for him, those choices became much easier when Jones declared for the draft.
Barrett became the unquestioned starter as a junior, and Burrow - with a year of experience under his belt - slid in behind Barrett as his back-up. The Buckeyes would also bring true freshman Dwayne Haskins into the fold, where he took Burrow’s designated redshirt spot.
Fast forward to 2017, Burrow’s 3rd year, and Barrett was still the starter - even with his throwing ability in question. Barrett’s experience in the system and natural athleticism were huge pluses, but his arm limitations were obvious. Burrow and Haskins, who were now co-back-ups, didn’t have those same issues. Nonetheless, Barrett started, and it wasn’t until he got hurt in a pivotal game against Michigan that the back-up got his chance.
It just wasn’t Burrow. It was Haskins.
Passing for roughly 100 yards in a clutch 2nd half performance, the solid outing gave Haskins - who was the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft - a leg up on what would be the eventual 2018 QB battle. That same leg up would prove too big of a hurdle for Burrow to overcome, and for his 4th season with the Buckeyes, he would sit on the sideline - or so we thought.
Entering the transfer portal, Burrow received a fresh start, and it was exactly what he needed. His time with the Buckeyes had officially come to an end.
The quarterback was still appreciative of his time in Columbus, however, despite being told by Coach Meyer that he “threw like a girl," and “played like a D-II quarterback."
Being the aggressive and feisty competitor he is, Burrow used those degrading words as motivation, and just like he did back in 5th Grade, he kept on shooting. And shooting. And shooting.
Joining LSU before the 2018 season, Burrow finally scored.
Like Father Like Son
Now to say Burrow has a strong family bloodline might be an understatement. His two brothers - Jamie and Dan - both played football at Nebraska, with Jamie even being named to the All-Big 12 team in 2001. Meanwhile, his dad is the most accomplished of them all, both playing and coaching for roughly half a century.
Suiting up for Nebraska in the 1970s, Joe’s father - Jimmy - was quite the cornerback, playing over 5 seasons in the CFL and even playing 3 games with the Packers. His journey didn’t stop there either. Jimmy took to the coaching ranks right after his playing days were over, and coordinated the Ohio Bobcats defense for 14 years.
According to those close to Joe, the LSU QB already has that same coaching mentality - even at 22 years old.
Right after the Tigers' impressive win over Florida last weekend, Burrow wasn’t satisfied, and his teammates knew it. After receiving a rest day on the Sunday after the big victory, he wasn’t content.
“If it wasn’t for having a mandatory off day, we probably would’ve been practicing if it was up to Joe," RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire explained.
DB JaCoby Stevens followed up on that sentiment, even describing Burrow as a “workaholic."
“If Joe pushed his team like he pushes himself, they would win a lot of championships but…they’d be going through a lot of stuff,” Stevens joked.
A tad intense? Perhaps. But that pursuit of excellence is embroidered in the Burrow DNA.
Just ask Jimmy.
Not Your Average Joe
He may be the hottest name in college football, but he also didn’t do his laundry until he was 21. Joe Burrow is a diverse character, and he doesn’t care for your cookie-cutter stereotypes.
Using his on-field confidence in his personal life, it’s nearly impossible to describe Burrow the person - and that’s exactly how he wants it. A strong activist in helping college players transfer - as he did roughly two years ago - Burrow voices his opinions - even if they might be controversial to some.
Using his platform to try and approve amateur athletes getting paid, Joe doesn’t confine to NCAA guidelines and even roasted an LSU professor on Twitter after he complained about the football budget. It’s just who Joe is.
Despite the competitive drive, Burrow also likes to have fun, with his “flow” garnering the attraction of many fans. He may have gotten the hair cut, but as the LSU QB notes “ the spirit lives on”. Burrow also isn’t afraid to flash his quirky side, explaining that he always needs to eat a caramel apple and wear a sock inside out as game rituals.
In fact, his infatuation with apples doesn’t stop there. When he met SEC commissioner Greg Sankey for the first time, the two talked about types of apples for an entire conversation.
There’s no doubting Burrow is steadfast, motivated, and certainly unique. And it’s his one-of-a-kind style, both as a player and person, that’s allowed him to succeed after his transfer to LSU.
Pressure makes diamonds.
It’s true with rocks and it’s true out on the football field.
After Burrow transferred to LSU, he finally had his starting chance. With a hole at the position since well, forever, Burrow slid in right away as the Tigers’ number one option, providing an upgrade - albeit small - over previous signal-caller Danny Etling.
Posting almost 3000 yards with 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, Burrow had a decent season, helping lead LSU to a 10-3 record in 13 games played. However, it wasn’t eye-popping, and with Dwayne Haskins leading Ohio State with a Heisman-level campaign, it became clear that the Buckeyes made the right choice.
Or so it seemed.
Pulling an Uno reverse card out of his back pocket, Burrow has looked like a completely different player this season, and it’s clear his confidence is finally back after his struggles in Ohio.
In a new spread offense installed by former Saints assistant coach Joe Brady, Burrow has made the Tigers into the most potent passing attack in the nation - a shocking twist for a team that consistently uses a “ground and pound” approach.
Already with 9 more pass touchdowns than last year - in 7 fewer games - Burrow is playing like THE Heisman favorite, and after posting two surgical performances against top 10 teams, it’s become clear that he isn’t just a fluke.
The more pressure that’s put on him, the better Burrow becomes. And just like he did in Grade 5, the LSU passer is going to keep on shooting - perhaps all the way to the 1st overall selection.