2020 NFL Draft: Ohio’s Mr. Football comes home as Bengals pick Joe Burrow

UPDATE @ 9:07 p.m.: Ohio’s Mr. Football is coming home as the Cincinnati Bengals made former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

“To jump up to No. 1 is crazy to me,” Burrow told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber. “But it’s a dream come true.”

Burrow did the televised interview wearing a white long sleeve shirt (with Nike logo) that features area code “740” in large black letters in the middle of an outline of the state of Ohio.

“I want to represent my hometown," he told Kolber, referencing Athens, Ohio.

The symbol represents the continuing Joe Burrow journey, which has touched some of the biggest parts of Ohio football life: the MAC, Ohio State, and now the Bengals.

Head coach Zac Taylor, in a news conference tonight, said, “I know we had a lot of confidence the last couple of weeks of who we were going to select. There was nothing that could happen that would make us change our minds.

“He’s a proven winner, he throws with anticipation, and he has a great football IQ," Taylor said of Burrow. "He does a great job keeping his eyes up and eluding defenders… he has the ability to create and extend plays and make explosive plays and those are traits you can’t pass up on.”

Burrow grew up in Athens, where his high school has now named the football field for him. His family came to Athens in 2005 because his father, Jimmy Burrow, was defensive coordinator for Ohio University. Jimmy Burrow retired from the Bobcats after the 2018 season, giving him time to watch all of his son’s games on his national championship campaign.

Burrow’s football family legacy runs deep. In addition to his father, a Sports Illustrated profile points out : “Dot Ford, his grandmother, once scored a state-record 82 points in a Mississippi high school basketball game back in the 1940s, and grandfather James Burrow starred as a point guard at Mississippi State. His uncle, Johnny, played safety for Ole Miss in the 1980s, and his father, Jimmy, was a defensive back for Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers. His two older brothers, Jamie and Dan, played for Nebraska, too.”

Joe Burrow continued the family tradition, and was a high school star. When he started at Athens High School, the team was 37-4, and went to the state title game his senior year. Burrow threw 6 touchdowns in that game, and you can still see highlights online. For the season, he threw 63 touchdowns, with just 2 interceptions, which was enough to have him named Mr. Football. The football stadium at Athens High School is now named after Joe Burrow.

His high school career made him a sought-after recruit, and he chose to become an Ohio State Buckeye.

He began as one of the backups to J.T. Barrett, who was 38-6 as a Buckeye. Burrow did get some playing time, completing 29 passes for 287 yards and a pair of touchdowns. When Barrett graduated, Burrow was hoping to become the starter, but that honor went to Dwayne Haskins. While Haskins threw 50 touchdowns and became a Heisman finalist, Burrow finished his bachelor’s degree and moved on to LSU.

There, while working on a master’s degree, Burrow became a star. He won a national title. He won a Heisman trophy. And he won the honor of becoming the NFL’s #1 pick.