One J.T. played his last game for Ohio State December 29. The other played his final game last week. They played different sports, one football, one basketball, but both were four year starters and both left lasting memories for the Buckeye fan base.
J.T. Barrett and Jae'Sean Tate--both known best as "J.T." made the absolute most of their opportunity at Ohio State.
When you think back to their arrivals at Ohio State, neither showed up with huge fanfare. Yes, Barrett was a highly touted quarterback out of Texas but he wasn't at the hype level of guys that followed like Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins or Tate Martell. Barrett also joined a team that had a guy named Braxton Miller entrenched as the starter. We thought it would be 2-4 years at least before Barrett saw the field. Then 2014 happened. That's when the footballl "J.T." took over. The week before Miller suffered a season ending shoulder injury in training camp, Barrett had passed Cardale Jones as the No. 2 quarterback. Timing is everything. With Miller out, Barrett was in and the redshirt freshman capitalized on his opportunity. He became Big Ten quarterback of the year three time, Big Ten MVP twice, rewrote the Ohio State record book and ended his career as the Big Ten record holder in five categories including total offense and touchdowns. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called his J.T. the greatest leader in Ohio State history. He was a three-time captain--something that had never been done before in Buckeye history. In short, J.T. Barrett, though not perfect on and off the field, maxed out on his college potential. He is a guy Buckeye Nation won't soon forget.
While his career didn't have the records and team success as the football J.T., the basketball J.T, Jae'Sean Tate, is also a guy who won't soon be forgotten. The kid out of Pickerington quickly became a favorite of former head coach Thad Matta. Before Tate's freshman year, I remember Matta raving about Tate's energy and intensity. It didn't take fans long to see what the coach was talking about. The Buckeye hoops J.T. always gave everything he had and left it all out on the court. He became a starter his freshman year and was part of a team that won 24 games, advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and had a bright future. Problem was, classmate D'Angelo Russell got too good and left for the NBA, a recruiting class behind Tate was a bust and despite his enthusiastic play, the team--for two years--just seemed flat. It ended up costing Matta his job and it looked like the basketball J.T., despite his status as a fan favorite, would have a less than memorable Ohio State career. Then this year happened.
New coach Chris Holtmann quickly learned what Matta knew right away and Buckeye Nation had witnessed... Jae'Sean Tate was special. Sure, it was the emergence of Keita Bates-Diop that really helped the Buckeyes take off this year, but Tate was the heart and soul of this team. He set the temperature and led Ohio State to a memorable 25 win season. Like the football J.T, the basketball version was not perfect, but he maxed out on his college potential.
If you're looking for examples for your kids of how to play, you can't go wrong using J.T. and J.T. On the field and on the court, they showed toughness, leadership, and excellence. They got every ounce out of their abilities. It was a pleasure to watch them.