The SEC Championship and Heisman Trophy ceremony for the next two Saturdays will ice a stellar senior year for Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow.
Leading his team to a No. 1 spot after a win against Alabama Nov. 9 primed him as a favorite for the Heisman, which will be awarded Dec. 14. Additionally, this season has helped increase his stock in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Athleticism is in Burrow’s bloodline, tracing back to his family in Amory.
“I was a coach, so Joe grew up going to games,” said his father and Amory native, Jimmy. “Joe attended his first sporting event when he was only 5 days old. It was a game in which his older brother played. He continued to go to older brothers’ games as he was growing up. Just being around sports all his life created his interest in sports.”
While Joe, himself, is not a hometown star, his father graduated from Amory High School with the Class of 1971. He went on to play for University of Nebraska, the NFL and CFL before beginning his nearly 40-year coaching career.
His last coaching position was defensive coordinator at Ohio University for more than a decade. Jimmy retired after the 2018 season, in part, to be able to see all of Joe’s games in his final college season.
Joe’s grandparents still live in Amory. His grandfather, James Burrow, graduated from Smithville in 1948. James’ wife, Dot Ford Burrow, set a Mississippi state high school record with an 82-point game in basketball in the 1940s. She graduated from Smithville High School in 1950.
James played basketball at Mississippi State. Additionally, Joe’s uncle, John Burrow, played football at Ole Miss and two older brothers also played football at Nebraska.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, when Joe was 6, he attended the 2002 Rose Bowl in which his father served as a Nebraska assistant, and another brother played in the game. Not long after, Joe began playing in youth football leagues. Unlike his father, uncle and brothers, who all played on defense, Joe started out as a quarterback because his first youth team had no one else who could play the position.
Joe was born in Iowa but moved with his family to Ohio, where he graduated from high school. While at Athens High School, he led the school to three straight playoff appearances and the school’s first seven playoff victories in school history. He was awarded the Ohio Mr. Football Award and Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year Award as a senior.
Standing 6-foot-4, he was also a standout basketball player and was named first-team all-state at point guard his senior year. Burrow was rated as a four-star football recruit and was the eighth-highest ranked dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2015, according to collegiate team rankings. He committed to Ohio State University to play football in 2014 but transferred to LSU in May 2018.
Jimmy contrasted his career with his son’s through the years.
“I headed north, and my son headed south during our careers,” he said.
Joe has still found time to touch base with his family, who are his biggest supporters.
“Joe has been coming to visit his grandparents during the summer and some holidays over the years, but it’s been tougher to visit after he started college football,” Jimmy said.
He was named the starting quarterback at LSU as a redshirt junior and again in 2019 as a senior. In the Tigers’ season opener against Georgia Southern, he threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-3 win and was later named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week (with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa).
In a Week 2 away game at then No. 9 Texas, Burrow threw for 471 yards, which was the second most in school history and most since Rohan Darvey’s 528 yards against Alabama in 2001. He continued to accumulate awards and set records, becoming the first LSU quarterback to ever throw for 350 yards in three consecutive games.
LSU’s recent game against Alabama was highly anticipated as the highest ranked showdown between the two schools since the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, with LSU ranked No. 2 and Alabama ranked No. 3. The game pitted the two leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy in Burrow and Tagovailoa against each other, where Joe and the Tigers came away victorious in a 46-41 shootout.
“We are very proud of all his accomplishments,” Jimmy said. “We know how hard he has worked to get to where he is today. We look forward to hopefully watching him in the NFL.”
Joe has had some advice passed along to him from his family as he pursues his goals as a student and football player.
“His grandparents talk about everyone has setbacks in the pursuit of goals, but if you don’t give up and work hard, anything can be accomplished,” Jimmy said. “Before games, we’ve always talked about having fun and giving your best effort.”
No elaborate plans have been made if Joe does get the Heisman.
“If it happens, they will be in Amory watching on television. They’re not into big parties for things like that. They just will be watching with great pride,” Jimmy said of his parents.
He said several of the Burrow family’s accomplishments have been covered in articles. Considering all the statistics involved, it takes a lot of writing to cover all the numbers. Joe’s proud father will witness all the magic of the remainder of Joe’s senior year at LSU from the stands, game by game.