06:17 AM

Ohio State player seeks Ph.D. and playoff success

The Ohio State University football team will be looking to find the right balance on offense when they take on Clemson at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. It can mean the difference between success and failure. For safety Jarrod Barnes, the search for the right balance is what his entire college experience has been about.

Jarrod Barnes

Barnes is not just a special teams player for the football Buckeyes, he’s also an academic standout. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in sports management.

“It’s still funny because sometimes people ask me, ‘how do you balance all that?’ And just to be quite honest, I tell them I don’t balance it,” Barnes said, laughing. “There are some days that I will have to choose to be a football player and there are certain days I have to choose to be a student.”

Barnes said the challenge is finding the focus for both the classroom and the film room and practice field.

Handling both is not new for Barnes. The Westerville South High School graduate first played college football for Louisville. He played in 21 games for the Cardinals and graduated in three years with a degree in health and human performance.

When he came to Ohio State as a walk-on athlete in 2015 he began pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology. He finished in a year, and now is working for his doctorate.

“I just finished my first semester and wow, was that a whirlwind,” he said. “I have a year and a half of course work left and then on to the dissertation phase, and hopefully I’ll finish it up in two years.”

Barnes credits the support he has received on and off the field. He points to his college advisers and teachers as critical to his success. He said the football staff has been just as supportive.

While Barnes is in Arizona with the football team and helping them get ready for a playoff run, he is also preparing for life after football.

“I study post-sport transition. I study how to better prepare student athletes for life after sports,” he said. “I'm debating – do I stay in sports administration? Do I go that route? Do I work in player development and try to work one on one with players? Or do I go to a more academic route and stay in a faculty role? I’m not exactly sure because I love sports but I also love learning.”