By Ashton Logan
The Friday night lights shone brightly the night of Nov. 21, 2014, on the Athens High School football field in The Plains, Ohio before the mighty Bulldogs took their positions for kickoff.
Among the players stood No. 10 – a young Joe Burrow, “Joey” to his closest friends. On that night, Burrow threw and received his own touchdown pass as fans cheered and his teammates watched in astonishment.
Burrow now stands tall at 6’4” with bright blue eyes and sandy blonde hair at the helm of the LSU Tigers football team. He has always had a knack for sports, says first cousin Allison Ford-Wade, health, exercise science, and recreation management (HESRM) graduate program coordinator director at the University of Mississippi.
“I remember talking to my grandparents about him…he was always really good in sports growing up,” she said. “He has just been a really good athlete from the time he could walk.”
After a powerful high school career, Burrow quickly signed to play at Ohio State in the spring of 2014 where he redshirted and spent the next two years playing backup to J.T. Barrett. Burrow transferred to LSU in May 2018.
Within his first year at LSU, he threw a career-high 249 yards against Auburn and was later named SEC Offensive Player of the week. He now is the starting quarterback of the LSU football team and is a front runner for the Heisman.
Burrow comes from a long line of athletes, many of which many played various sports at the University of Mississippi. His father, Jimmy Burrow, played football at the university before transferring to Nebraska his sophomore year, as well as his uncle, John “Johnny” Burrow, and a cousin who played baseball.
“LSU was not a school that we had any connection with prior to 20 months ago when Joe decided to play football there,” said Ford-Wade. “We definitely have not grown up LSU fans but a lot of Burrows and Fords instantly became LSU fans after he put on that jersey.”
Although there is a long line of rivalry between the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers, Ford-Wade said there is no rivalry in the family.
“No rivalry, just family. Family first,” she said. “People have asked me if it has been hard, and I say absolutely not. We want Joe to do well on Saturday. We love Ole Miss, but he’s our family.”
According to Ford-Wade, Burrow is selfless in his efforts and is beyond grateful for the people who surround him and allowed him to get to where he is at today.
“You know, I got great people around me,” Burrow recently told an ESPN reporter after the LSU vs. Alabama game last Saturday. “I’ve got a great coaching staff and a great program all around.”
“For me as a mom to be able to say ‘look at this, look at someone who hasn’t taken an accolade for himself and has really lifted all the people around him’ is a teaching moment for my children,” Ford-Wade said.
Ford-Wade, her two sons and husband Chip, a professor in the School of Journalism and New Media, are looking forward to a weekend filled with family togetherness in the Grove, as well as watching her cousin storm Vaught-Hemingway stadium for kickoff Saturday evening.