ATHENS — Joe Burrow’s exploits on and off the football field will always be remembered by fans both in Ohio and Louisiana.
On Dec. 19, the Athens City School District Board of Education made sure that Burrow’s name will never be forgotten.
Athens’ board of education unanimously voted to rename Athens’ football stadium to Joe Burrow Stadium during the regular meeting.
Burrow, a 2015 graduate of Athens High School, won the coveted Heisman Trophy. He has quarterbacked LSU to a 13-0 record and a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
Perhaps even more importantly, Burrow’s Heisman Trophy speech put a spotlight on some of the issues faced by residents of Athens County.
“Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average,” Burrow now famously said during his speech. “There’s so many people there that don’t have a lot and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school.
“You guys can be up here, too.”
Burrow’s words inspired Will Drabold, an Athens native, to start a fundraiser for the Athens County Food Bank. The Facebook driven fundraiser has brought in more than $460,000.
From Burrow’s historic efforts in high school as a Bulldog, to his Heisman Trophy win, to his inspiration for raising funds for the Athens County Food Bank, board members at Athens High School didn’t want to wait another month to honor their most famous Bulldog.
Burrow led Athens to 37 wins during his three seasons as the starting quarterback at R. Basil Rutter Field for the Bulldogs. Athens advanced to the Division III state championship game in 2014, as Burrow became the first player from the Southeast District to win the Associated Press’ Mr. Football award.
Burrow spent three seasons at Ohio State before transferring to LSU before the 2018 season.
Athens High School will recognize the naming of Joe Burrow Stadium with a ceremony after LSU’s football season has concluded.
The Tigers play Oklahoma in the College Football Playoffs on Dec. 28.
The school board’s declaration of the accomplishment is as follows:
“The Athens City School District Board of Education hereby recognizes and congratulates Athens High School Class of 2015 graduate Joe Burrow for his most recent accomplishment in winning college football’s highest honor, the Heisman Trophy.
Mr. Burrow was a member of the 2014-2015 Athens High School Football team that had a record of 14-1, with the only loss being in the OHSAA Championship on a last minute touchdown by the opposing team. Joe was honored at the end of the 2014-2015 season as Ohio Mr. Football, as well as the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.
After graduating from Athens High School, Joe Burrow attended college and played football for The Ohio State University. Upon his graduation from Ohio State, he transferred as a graduate student to the Louisiana State University with two remaining years of eligibility. At LSU, Joe led his team to a 10-3 record in his first season, with key wins against Auburn and Ole Miss, as well as a Fiesta Bowl win over the University of Central Florida. The LSU Tigers ended the 2018-2019 season ranked #6 in the final AP poll.
In 2019, Joe has led the LSU Tigers to an undefeated regular season, a #1 ranking in the AP poll, and an opportunity to play for the National Championship. On Saturday, December 15, 2019, Joe Burrow was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy with the most first place votes of any previous winner.
As part of Joe’s acceptance speech he humbly recognized Athens and Southeast Ohio and the many challenges faced by families in our region. His comments instigated a fundraising campaign that has resulted in over $400,000 for the Athens County Food Bank, thousands of dollars donated to the Athens High School Boosters, donations to Athens County Children’s Services via the Giving Tree project, and donations to other area governmental and non-profit support agencies.
In recognition of Mr. Burrow’s accomplishments, the Athens City School District Board of Education does hereby direct the Superintendent and the Athens High School Administration to take such actions as are necessary to name the Athens High School Football Stadium the Joe Burrow Stadium and to work with the Athens High School Booster Club and the Athens High School Bulldog Blitz to plan a ceremony to celebrate this honor.”
** ** **
Kevin Wiseman is the sports editor for The Athens Messenger.