Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is not among the Top 150 players in an NFL.com ranking.

J.T. Barrett remains as polarizing as ever, Ohio State vs. Michigan might get the Gus Johnson treatment and more

Ryan Ginn

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Today is Tuesday, May 16, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.


J.T. Barrett not a top 150 player?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t have a particularly great season in 2016. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes, averaged 196.5 yards per game, threw 24 touchdowns and was intercepted 7 times. Those numbers are solid but nothing special.

Still, it was a little jarring to see NFL.com rank the 150 best players in college football and not include Barrett, once a fifth-place Heisman finisher who has won 26 times in 30 starts. It was a ranking of college players and not pro prospects, the latter being just about the only justification for leaving Barrett off the list.

Here are the Ohio State players who made the cut:

Ohio State players in the NFL.com top 150

19. RB Mike Weber

30. DE Sam Hubbard

32. DE Nick Bosa

50. C Billy Price

72. LT Jamarco Jones

85. DE Tyquan Lewis

104. OLB Jerome Baker

Here are all the quarterbacks who were listed in the top 150, which didn’t include Barrett.

QBs in the NFL.com Top 150

2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville

3. Sam Darnold, Southern Cal

4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

10. Josh Allen, Wyoming

15. Josh Rosen, UCLA

22. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

26 Trace McSorley, Penn State

35. Luke Falk, Washington State

37. Jalen Hurts, Alabama

38. Jake Browning, Washington

47. Deondre Francois, Florida State

53. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

67. Brett Rypien, Boise State

71. Quinton Flowers, South Florida

96. Wilton Speight, Michigan

126. Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State

That’s a little rough. Maybe I’m completely off the mark here, but I’m guessing at least a few teams would trade their quarterback on this list for Barrett.

To say that Barrett isn’t one of the 16 best quarterbacks and 150 best players in the country seems harsh, given the number of records he holds at Ohio State. It’s also worth noting that his decline came when the offense was being run by someone who is now the offensive line coach at Minnesota.

Here’s what his new offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, said about Barrett in 2016 after Ohio State put up 38 points on Wilson’s former team, Indiana.

“In my opinion, from afar, I think that’s the best quarterback in college football,” Wilson said in his postgame news conference. “Some of these guys have some stats. I’m not saying it because he’s in our league – I’m not a homer. When you watch that kid play, that kid and his unselfishness … he went through a lot. He was a premier player in the country two years ago when he got injured.

“He’s one of the best players; he’s one of the best teammates. I’m not in their locker room, I’m sure he’s a phenomenal leader. That’s why those young players are playing so well. He might have been off today, but he’s human. I think J.T. Barrett is an awesome football player.”

That praise was a little hyperbolic, but that’s the way it’s always been for Barrett. Some people see a legitimate Heisman candidate with four losses in three years, a player who owns a sizable chunk of the Ohio State record book with a year left to play. Others see the quarterback who passed for 93 yards in that game against Wilson in 2016, who was shut out by Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal and dipped in accuracy each of the last two seasons.

As with most divisive things in life, reality is probably somewhere in the middle. But don’t expect any opinions to change any time soon.

The Game is moving to a new channel

Ohio State vs. Michigan has been played 113 times, which makes it hard for something new to happen.

In 2017, though, FOX Sports will broadcast The Game for the first time.

The Big Ten agreed last April to a six-year deal that will give FOX the rights to 25 football games and 50 basketball games for about $250 million a year over six years. FOX is splitting the rights with ESPN, which has its own deal with the Big Ten. It seems as though FOX came away with a good haul, though, given that the network also will broadcast Ohio State vs. Penn State and Michigan State vs. Notre Dame.

That could lead to Gus Johnson calling the biggest rivalry in college football and Buckeyes fans probably have fond memories of the last two times he called Ohio State games.

Just imagine if Johnson had called Curtis Samuel’s game-winning run vs. the Wolverines in 2016.

Don’t bet against Malik Hooker

Can Malik Hooker follow up his incredible 2016 season with an impressive rookie campaign in the NFL?

Don’t bet against it.

Of the three Ohio State players selected in the first round, Hooker is probably the one who fits best with his current team. The Indianapolis Colts have a vacancy at safety with no other obvious candidates. If Hooker is healthy and all goes well, he’ll be a starter when his NFL career begins.

Given Hooker’s proclivity for playmaking, it wasn’t a surprise to see him listed among NFL.com’s top six candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. That honor, by the way, was claimed last year by former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, even though he missed four games with a left hamstring injury.

Hooker came in third on NFL.com’s list, which was voted on by a panel of writers. Here’s what Chase Goodbread of NFL.com had to say about him.

Even with only one year as a college starter, Hooker showed NFL scouts why he’s as much of a takeaway artist as the 2017 NFL Draft offered. Colts GM Chris Ballard saw that and more in the former Ohio State star, but his ability to create turnovers was paramount in the selection. As long as he’s healthy [Hooker underwent offseason surgeries for a sports hernia and a hip injury], he should quickly become a ballhawking presence in the Colts’ secondary.

Hooker has a knack for making plays that are not only crucial but also amazing to watch, which never hurts come awards time though I guess the Thorpe Award committee begged to differ last year.

Be on the lookout for Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper is in town for a show at the Schottenstein Center on Tuesday night, and Ohio State is trying to take advantage.

The Buckeyes sent an invite Monday to the three-time Grammy winner, hoping to get him on campus for a tour.

The Buckeyes wouldn’t be the first Big Ten team to try to benefit from an association with the superstar. Chance played Omaha, Neb., on May 10, and Nebraska coach Mike Riley snagged some face time with him.

It turns out Nebraska — shocker — is trying to use that as a recruiting tool.

My colleague who covers Nebraska, Chris Heady, just wrote a story on how the Huskers try to stay hip on the recruiting trail, with that photo as a primary example.

That is where Kelly Mosier, assistant athletic director for creative and emerging media, and his digital communications team come in handy.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley met Chance the Rapper at a recent concert.

They come up with ideas like getting Riley and Chance the Rapper in the same room, or sending caricatures of recruits who planned on visiting Nebraska for the spring game.

“I see [recruiting] as really no different than marketing,” Mosier said. “We’re trying to create new fans no matter what we’re doing, whether that’s a 17-, 18-year-old football player being a fan of Nebraska to come play here, or whether it’s trying to reach a 16- to-25-year-old football fan. It’s a very similar thing.”

Given the success Ohio State has had doing similar things in the past, it’s no surprise that approach is spreading throughout college football.

B1G happenings

• Maryland football gets a transfer … from Boston College’s basketball team.

• Brad Underwood says he thinks Illinois should be an NCAA Tournament team.

• Michigan State basketball signee gets engaged.

• Jourdan Lewis’s girlfriend reportedly also called police in 2015.

• Chad Smith sang the Michigan fight song in Columbus.

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