In Case of Emergency Break Glass: Braxton Miller Injury Ends J.T. Barrett’s Apprenticeship

Texas' occupation of the quarterback position for Ohio’s three most prominent football teams has officially begun.

Johnny Manziel hasn’t been the most stable rookie quarterback, but it’s hard to imagine his rookie season ending without him taking his place in Kyle Shanahan’s pocket given how uneven presumptive starter Brian Hoyer’s performances have been thus far.

Andy Dalton’s nine-figure deal firmly supplants him as the Bengals franchise quarterback for the near future, but a third has unexpectedly emerged at Ohio State.

On Monday, Braxton re-aggravated a shoulder injury that kept him out of spring practice while he rehabbed. Early reports are that it may be season-ending.

Miller’s injury is a reminder that quarterback insurance is extremely vital to the welfare of a potent offense.

Oregon discovered that in 2007 when Dennis Dixon’s ACL imploded, their national championship trajectory snowballed when Ryan Leaf’s younger brother took the reins.  

Texas A&M could survive the dramatic shift in style from the mobile Kenny Hill to pocket passing Kyle Allen, the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the class of 2012.

Auburn may have one of the best 1-2 combos in the nation with Jeremy Johnson spelling Nick Marshall and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is the future starter, but he won’t be redshirting. Instead, Watson has been cast as the second half of a two-QB package along with senior Cole Stoudt.

Once UCLA’s Brett Hundley is out of the picture, Asiantii Woulard is the preordained Bruins successor.

Five years ago, a BYU pass rusher collapsed his body weight onto Sam Bradford’s shoulder in the season opener thrusting Landry Jones into the limelight.

Jones wouldn’t relinquish the job for four more years, but BYU would lose the game.

Fortunately, Miller’s backup has a little more warning before he gets anointed the don of the Buckeyes offense.

As injury prone as Miller has been throughout his Buckeye career, it was inevitable that he’d hit another wall during his senior season.

Earlier than they expected, Ohio State will break the protective casing on their emergency backup quarterback J.T. Barrett.

The redshirt freshman quarterback has been in a nondescript arms race with 6-5 sophomore Cardale Jones to be Miller’s backup and appeared to have pulled ahead in recent weeks.

For a quarterback rated so highly by recruiting services though, he is an enigma outside of Columbus.

Urban Meyer has a reputation for working offensive alchemy with dual-threat quarterbacks, but he doesn’t have to do too much work for his new starter to shine.

Barrett is the rare four-star signal caller from a Texas pedigree to cloak himself in Ohio State’s scarlet and grey.  

If Barrett successfully executes his role as the ordnance expert for Ohio State’s explosive offense, it will make things complicated when 21 Jump Street Miller returns for his second senior season.

Aside from being a redshirt freshman, there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep Ohio State afloat.

Barrett prematurely ended his own senior year at Wichita Falls High School because of a knee injury, but Barrett's junior season featured his running capabilities in all their glory as his 1,600 yards and 14 touchdown tosses were accompanied by 1,500 ground yards and nine rushing scores.  He's not the most elusive runner, but he has been running a variation of the spread option since high school where he obviously excelled.

Barrett doesn’t come equipped with the same level of expectations his peers Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor arrived with, but he will share their similar experiences of starting as freshmen.

There will be growing pains, but the non-conference slate (unranked Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati) looks like red velvet cake while the remainder of the Buckeyes schedule looks more like the insides of a pinata than the gauntlet for a Top 5 contender and includes just one preseason Top 25 foe.

A national championship may seem out of the reach, but Jameis Winston becoming the second freshman to start for a national champion should inspire hope in the hearts of a dispirited Buckeye Nation.

Besides the last Ohio State quarterback to rock Barrett’s No. 16 was senior Craig Krenzel in 2002. That campaign ended with Jim Tressel hoisting his first and only BCS national championship trophy.

Without Carlos Hyde, Urban Meyer’s first 1,000 yard tailback, Miller was expected to take on even greater responsibilities. Those lofty expectations now fall to Barrett’s shoulders.  

Bearing the weight will be a gargantuan challenge, but everything’s bigger in Texas. He should be used to lugging cumbersome expectations around by now. It'll make him stronger and if Ohio State wins the natty, that College Football Playoff trophy will be lighter than a cloud.