Quarterback J.T. Barrett said he has wondered "Why?" a few times since suffering a broken ankle last week against Michigan. But with his record-setting freshman season over, he has already started down the road to recovery.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett said he has wondered "Why?" a few times since suffering a broken ankle last week against Michigan. But with his record-setting freshman season over, he has already started down the road to recovery.

"I don't know if I'm really bummed; definitely, you almost just wonder, 'Why?' " Barrett said yesterday in his first comments since undergoing surgery to repair a cracked fibula in his right leg. "When you have those conversations or little talks with God, you'll be like, 'Why now?' or things like that. But you never know. But I'm taking it for what it is. What can I do, you know?"

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He plans to travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game on Saturday against Wisconsin, perhaps primarily to serve as a counselor to new starter Cardale Jones. Barrett, who went 11-1 as a starter and was named Big Ten freshman of the year, said he wants that championship.

"Some guys (on the team) won state championships and stuff like that in high school, but I was never one of those guys," said Barrett, out of Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. "Winning a championship is something we all dream about. Now, we're in this position, and we've just got to go take care of business."

His advice to teammates is to acknowledge that it is a big game "but not make it so much that it's overwhelming," Barrett said.

There was a poignant scene on Saturday as he lay on the Ohio Stadium field with OSU training and medical personnel working on his ankle. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner walked over, put his hand on Barrett's head and spoke to him.

"He just told me to stay up, said he was praying for me, things like that," Barrett said. "I've been talking to him the past couple of days. He's a real cool dude."

Barrett found out since then that thousands of others also had him in their thoughts. He could tell just by how his number of Instagram followers almost doubled from the 20,000 going into the weekend.

"I've got 39 (thousand)," Barrett said. "That's just followers on Instagram. I can't even tell you the people who texted me, or called, or sent me little direct messages on Instagram."

Asked whether any of those messages stuck, he said, "This little kid actually prayed for me on Instagram, a little video, and I 'liked' it; that's all I did," Barrett said. "And the little kid went crazy."

Barrett said he will be in a cast for six weeks and then graduate to an isolation boot for another four weeks. The boot will allow him to walk almost normally before he's cleared to walk freely. He expects to take part in spring practice, though probably on a limited basis, starting in March.

Honoring a teammate

An estimated 60 players attended a late-morning funeral for Kosta Karageorge, a senior walk-on defensive lineman who had made many friends in the locker room even though he only joined the team in August. Karageorge apparently took his life after disappearing early on Nov. 26.

"You don't really get past it. We've just got to keep fighting," senior cornerback Doran Grant said of dealing with that loss even as the team prepares for the Big Ten championship game. "Just keep fighting, and stay together."

tmay@dispatch.com

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