On Monday, LSU will play for the program’s fourth championship. The only thing that stands in their way is Clemson. Ahead of the highly anticipated contest, NBC 10’s Chris Demirdjian caught up with Jimmy Burrow, the father of Tigers’ quarterback, Joe.
Who knew LSU’s grueling season would leave them as one of the last two teams standing? Who knew the person responsible throughout this journey would leave home and travel 967 miles to Baton Rouge and etch his name in history?
“I’d be lying if I could tell you if it would be like it is with Joe [Burrow] winning the Heisman and Joe 14-0 playing for the National Championship, ” says Jimmy Burrow, the father of Joe Burrow.
The senior Burrow had a front row season of his son’s trek to stardom. It wasn’t easy to leave his native Athens, Ohio. It was also difficult to find the right fit for the young Burrow.
“I had reached out to a few schools that I actually knew somebody, ” Burrow recalls. “And, I ran into Coach Steven Ensminger at Co-Lin Junior College and kind of opened the dialouge.”
The elder Burrow’s pilgrimage is similar to his son’s. A former defensive back for Ole Miss, he eventually transferred to Nebraska. He was drafted by the Packers, before playing in the Canadian Football League. He recognized Joe’s potential.
“As a family, we always thought Joe could play at a very high level, ” Burrow says. “That’s why we were so supportive of him when he chose LSU. A lot of people had said over the years they needed a quarterback who can throw downfield. And, we knew Joe could do that.”
He also knew Joe’s talents, when he was named the starting quarterback at Athens (OH) High School. During his prep career, he passed for over 11,000 yards, and nearly 160 touchdowns. Burrow earned several state honors.
“He’s starting to make throws where people said, ‘Hey! That’s a pretty special throw here. We’re scoring a lot of points.’ Very similar offense to what LSU is doing. Up until that time, we thought he was going to be a basketball player, ” says Burrow.
He made the right call, sticking with football. The now 23-year old exceeded his stats from his first season in Death Valley. That’s thanks to the addition of former New Orleans Saints Offensive Anaylst Joe Brady.
“[Joe Burrow] had [Joe Brady’s] attention from the very start, because J.T. Barrett is one of his closest friends” Burrow recalls. “J.T. was on the practice squad at the time Joe Brady announced he was coming to LSU. So, J.T. got on the phone and called Joe and said, ‘You’re going to love this guy,'”
5,208 yards, 55 touchdowns, and one Heisman Trophy later, it’s safe to say Joe Burrow loves Joe Brady too. Now, all that’s missing is a National Championship to cement Burrow and LSU in college football folklore. Burrow shared the piece of advice he gave to his son, ahead of Monday’s game versus Clemson.
“If they’ll just trust their practice sessions. And what they’ve installed as far as a game plan, play like they’ve been playing, with the confidence, play fast. Those are the type of things I’ve told Joe about.
Kick off for Clemson-LSU is Monday at 7:00 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.