From Joe Burrow to Joe Burreaux: Examining the Heisman Winner’s Story


“I’m just a kid from Ohio coming down and chasing a dream.”

Before his breakout season for the LSU Tigers, Joe Burrow was just that: a kid from Ohio. Throughout his early life, the Burrow family moved around often, following the career of his father, Jimmy Burrow. Jimmy coached at the high school and college levels, making stops in Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota, before settling in Athens, Ohio as the Defensive Coordinator for Ohio University in 2005, where he’d coach until his retirement in 2018.

Growing up, Burrow revered the University of Nebraska, where his father and two brothers, Dan and Jamie, suited up in their college days. His dream was to bring a once-powerful football program back to prominence.

Burrow attended Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, where he was a three-year starter. Starting in 41 games, he passed for 11,416 yards and 157 touchdowns while rushing for 2,067 yards and 27 more touchdowns. He led the school to three straight playoff appearances and the school’s first seven playoff victories. Following his 2014-2015 season, he was named Ohio’s Mr. Football and was voted the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.


Unfortunately, his dream school, Nebraska, didn’t even give him an offer, leading the four-star quarterback to sign with Ohio State University in 2015.

After redshirting in 2015, Burrow spent the following two seasons behind J.T. Barrett. In his redshirt sophomore season, Burrow battled freshmen Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell for the backup job, but broke his hand and Haskins won the job.


After Haskins was named the starter again in 2018, Burrow decided to transfer. Having graduated, Burrow was leaving with two years of eligibility left and the opportunity to play immediately.

“After weeks of struggling with this decision, I have decided to leave Ohio State and explore other options. My teammates and coaches all know the love I feel for them. I will decide where I will play next year in the coming weeks.”

On May 20, 2018, he made his decision: Louisiana State University, a school known for its successful ground-and-pound style of play and average to subpar quarterback play.

Burrow was named the starter in his first season at LSU. Still, LSU ran an old-school offense with a focus on running the ball down their opponents throat. During the 2018 season, Burrow threw for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions. LSU finished the regular season at 9-3, with losses coming from Florida, Alabama, and a seven overtime loss to Texas A&M. They ended the season with a win over previously-undefeated UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.

The numbers may not look great from the outside, but the way Burrow played gave LSU fans hope. The heart and soul Burrow poured into every game was inspiring, and made Louisiana fall in love. With the quarterback play LSU had in the past, this was a huge step in the right direction, but just one thing was missing.


Before the 2019 season, LSU hired Joe Brady to help modernize their offense. Spending two seasons as an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints and working under Sean Payton, LSU figured Brady knew a thing or two about running a high-powered offense. They were right.

Burrow and co. began the season with a strong but expected 55-3 win over Georgia Southern, where Burrow threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns. He was later named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week, along with Tua Tagovailoa.

Then comes Week 2, a highly-anticipated game between the sixth-ranked Tigers and ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns. In a back-and-forth battle, the Tigers took down the Longhorns, 45-38. This is the game that thrust LSU and Joe Burrow into the national spotlight. Burrow threw for 471 yards and four touchdowns, and because of a third-and-17 play late in the game, a new Heisman candidate was introduced to the world.

As Texas seemed to unravel a few weeks following this game, LSU kept rolling.

Winning the next six games, including wins over seventh-ranked Florida and ninth-ranked Auburn, LSU entered their Week 11 matchup undefeated, but so did their opponent, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Going into the game, Alabama was on an eight-game winning streak against the Tigers. The last time LSU beat Alabama was in 2011 in a 9-6 overtime win, the same season that Alabama beat LSU in the BCS National Championship game. This was an opportunity for Burrow to immortalize himself as an LSU football legend.

From the outside, this just seems like another game. But for the state of Louisiana, this is a huge event every year. Louisiana has been waiting for their “savior” … the quarterback to come in and defeat Nick Saban, LSU’s former head coach who won a National Championship with the team in 2003. Since then, he has been looked upon as a traitor in Louisiana.

In 2011, the game was called the “Game of the Century,” so it is only fitting that the national media proclaimed this the “Game of the Century, Part 2.” It surely lived up to the hype.

LSU claimed a 46-41 victory over Alabama, ending their long, eight-year drought and proving that LSU and Joe Burrow were legit. Burrow threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 64 yards.

If you think this was just another game on the schedule, you are painfully wrong. Joe Burrow became a Louisiana hero after the game, arriving to a crazy scene at the Baton Rouge airport.

Although this was a monumental win for LSU, it was not the end.

“This was never our goal. We’ve got bigger goals than this that we’ve been working for, this is just another bump in the road that we passed.”

LSU finished out the regular season with wins over Ole Miss, Arkansas, and a revenge win over Texas A&M, following a controversial seven-overtime defeat the previous year.

On Senior Night, Burrow had a special gift for the fans. He ran out of the tunnel sporting a jersey that read “Burreaux,” the cajun spelling of his name that became popular throughout the year. This special tribute was Joe’s thank-you to the state of Louisiana for welcoming him and his family in with open arms and treating them like family.

As fast as the wins were falling, so were the records and accolades.

Burrow rewrote LSU’s record book in 2019. He is the record-holder for single-season passing yards and touchdowns, as well as single-game passing touchdowns and career passing touchdowns.

His season was not close to finished, though.

In the SEC Championship game, he took down fourth-ranked Georgia, 37-10. In a season full of Heisman moments, Burrow saved his biggest one for the SEC Championship game.

Seven days after the SEC Championship, the Heisman Trophy ceremony came around.

In a landslide decision, Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, receiving a record 871 first-place votes. He also set Heisman records by earning 90.7 percent of the first-place votes and being named on 95.5 percent of the ballots.

Burrow became the first LSU player in 60 years to win the Heisman, with the last being Billy Cannon. As eerie as it sounds, Joe Burrow signed to play for LSU on the same exact day that Cannon passed away: May 20, 2018.

In his emotional speech, he gave a special shoutout to his hometown, Athens County. His speech was so inspirational that it led to nearly half of a million dollars being donated to the Athens County Food Pantry.

With a 14-0 record, the Tigers were named as the top seed in the College Football Playoffs, matching them up with Oklahoma and a very familiar foe in the Peach Bowl, Jalen Hurts.

Burrow finished the game with 493 passing yards and seven touchdowns and added another score on the ground. His performance was historic, breaking records like it was nothing.

Here are the records he was responsible for breaking in the Peach Bowl:

  • Most touchdowns responsible for in a CFP game (8)
  • Most passing touchdowns in a CFP game (7)
  • An LSU school-record for most passing touchdowns in a game (7)
  • Most touchdown passes combined between two College Football Playoff games (7)
  • A Peach Bowl record for most passing touchdowns (7)
  • Tied the record for most passing touchdowns in a bowl game (7)
  • Tied the FBS record for most passing touchdowns in a half (7)
  • Most total touchdowns all-time in a bowl game (8)
  • Points in a CFP half (49)
  • Points in a CFP game (63)

He did all of this in a single half of football; absolutely incredible.

Even more incredible is the way LSU finished off the season, beating a team that was previously on a 29-game winning streak by 17 points. As expected, Burrow went out in style, passing for 463 yards and five touchdowns while adding 58 rushing yards and another score on the ground.

From LSU fans around the country and the entire state of Louisiana: thank you, Joe Burreaux, for making LSU football great again and giving the state a great sense of pride and hope for the future.


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