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Feb 17, 2016 11:43 AM EST

JT Barrett Stabilizes, Motivates Ohio State in Transitional Period

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This may be the most critical season of J.T. Barrett's collegiate football career. The starting quarterback role is all but assured him, his ankle healed, Vegas projects him as a potential Heisman Trophy finalist, and Ohio State is now unquestionably his team.

With Braxton Miller's illustrious football career at Ohio State now over and a mass exodus of upperclassmen on their way to the NFL, Barrett is one of Urban Meyer's only veterans and figures to be the one the head coach leans on most. Clearly ready for the challenge, Barrett appears to have already given the Buckeyes their marching orders.

At a workout session Wednesday morning, Barrett told reporters Columbus is "The Land of the Wolves." He said the team was not as hungry as they needed to be last season coming off a national title campaign.

The eventual champions were the final addition to the inaugural College Football Playoff field, but came into the following season as heavy favorites to repeat. Their roster was loaded and, with another impressive recruiting class, that could be the case this season as well.

The biggest difference will be the team's focus, or their hunger, as Barrett put it. It remains to be seen if having no question about who will play quarterback will affect the team's focus, but it is certainly one less thing to worry about.

Barrett is exactly the kind of QB meant to run Meyer's offense and we've seen him play masterfully in it for one full season and parts of another. Combined with his leadership qualities, Barrett's handle of the offense will also help the QB coming next.

"It's going to be the mindset for me that I'm just going to keep on getting better," Barrett told ESPN last month. "It's going to be the little things that help me get where I want to get.

"There's a level I want to be at next year, and even when I reach there, keep on progressing."

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