Burrow shares similarities with another Ohio star

Everything Joe Burrow, a kid from Southeast Ohio, has been able to accomplish in the past year is nearly beyond belief.

By now, most people around the Mid-Ohio Valley, and all over the country for that matter, are familiar with Burrow’s story. As a high school senior, he led the Athens Bulldogs football team to the state championship game while putting up unfathomable passing stats.

Burrow became the first Southeast Ohio player ever to win the state’s “Mr. Football” award, and earned a spot on Urban Meyer’s Ohio State team. Burrow, though, never got a chance to be the starter with the Buckeyes, and transferred to LSU. That’s when he transformed from an Ohio legend to a national legend.

After a so-so junior season with the Tigers, Burrow absolutely went bonkers as a senior, putting together arguably the greatest season-long performance by a quarterback in college football history. The year ended with Burrow — again, a kid from Athens, Ohio –winning the Heisman Trophy and leading LSU to a national championship.

After such a spectacular season, Burrow’s name began being tossed around as the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. When the Cincinnati Bengals, a team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, ended up securing the top pick, it felt inevitable.

Sure enough, with the first pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Burrow. Burrow appropriately donned a white T-shirt that read “740,” once again bringing national attention to his hometown.

How perfect that Burrow, who so proudly and openly represents the Buckeye State, ends up being selected by the Bengals, whose stadium is about a 2-hour, 40-minute drive from Athens. What an amazing story. Cincinnati, a passionate sports city starved for a winner, will be a great place for Burrow to continue building his legacy.

The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of LeBron James, and how things lined up for him. James was a high school basketball prodigy from Akron. There was no question he would be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft when he came out of high school. The only question was which team would be lucky enough to pick him.

As fate would have it, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up with the first overall pick that year, and they selected the hometown hero. LeBron James, through spectacular highlight-reel plays, endorsement deals and, eventually, an NBA championship, put Cleveland on the map.

Joe Burrow is in a position where he can do some of the same things for Cincinnati. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a young man, but Burrow has proved he can handle just about anything.

It might seem silly to compare Burrow, who’s never taken a snap in professional football, to LeBron James, arguably the greatest athlete of all-time. But a year ago, it would’ve seemed silly to think Burrow would be a Heisman winner, a national champion and a number one overall draft pick.

And yet, here we are.

Jordan Holland is an associate sports editor for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)

Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today