Former field hockey player and 2018 Bucks Go Pro intern, Maddy Humphrey returns with Humphrey Highlights covering other student-athletes. Humphrey is checking in this week with Jacob Barnwell, highlighting his selection to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List.
Jacob Barnwell is a junior from Catlettsburg, Ky., and is majoring in criminology hoping to be an FBI agent once his baseball days are over. Barnwell has been the anchor to the Buckeye infield as the starting catcher the last two seasons.
The Johnny Bench Award is a prominent collegiate award given to the toughest and outstanding catcher in the nation whose character entails integrity and righteousness. Barnwell has been selected to the watch list, a prestigious award named after the legendary catcher, and his presence as a Buckeye explains why.
As a Buckeye there is a legendary line we live by “The People, The Tradition and the Excellence.” This infamous Woody Hayes phrase is an important one to Barnwell and since the first day he stepped foot on this campus he saw it, felt it and exhibited it.
“The tradition of excellence is something that has been driven into the brains of all Buckeyes that have come before me and those that will follow me,” Barnwell said. “It is something that I take pride in and strive to achieve whether it is on the baseball field or in the classroom.”
During Barnwell’s freshman year, he was fortunate enough to be a part of one of the top campaigns in OSU history. The boys went on to claim the Big Ten tournament title and advanced to an NCAA Regional for the first time in seven years. Barnwell appeared 14 times and started five games behind the plate. The dogpile celebration at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., was something No. 42 will never forget.
“There is no better feeling than being able to dog pile on the field after putting in so much work and so much time into something,” Barnwell expressed. “That memory will be something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. That season was a roller coaster ride and I think that is what makes the championship that much better. We had our ups and our downs but when we came together as a team instead of a group of individuals we accomplished something amazing.
Last year, Barnwell stepped into the starting role behind the dish. His hitting average was a .254 clip that included seven doubles, one triple, two home runs, 14 RBI, 30 walks and went 7-for-10 in stolen bases. On the defensive side, he controlled the base paths by throwing out 11 baserunners during his 51 starts. Barnwell finished up the year strong and scrappy with a seven-game reached base streak.
Now in his junior year, he is having a breakout season, hitting .289 in 76 at-bats. Barnwell has already drove in a season-high 18 RBI in 24 games. At the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge, Barnwell hit .333 over the weekend against tough competition of No. 1 Oregon State and Utah. This past weekend at Bill Davis Stadium, Barnwell had his best day of the plate against defending Big Ten champion Nebraska. The Buckeyes claimed their first B1G win on Saturday and Barnwell’s first home run of the season had a lot to do with that victory, blasting a three-run shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth.
“We know that we can play with anyone in the country,” Barnwell said. “We have played with and beaten top ranked teams. I predict great things for this team. In my third season here at OSU I have been a part of some really good baseball teams but there is something special about this group that reminds me of the team my freshman year that won the Big Ten championship. We are relentless and will never give up.”
Barnwell believes part of his leadership role is to push himself and his teammates to be the best they can be and he expects his teammates to give him the same push back.
“When I am behind the plate I plan on running the show,” Barnwell said. “I was always told as a kid and still to this day when you are behind the plate everyone on the field is looking at you and the catcher is the only person on the field that can see everything that is going on.”
The team has had a large youth turnout during its current 11-game homestand to meet the players and as they begin dreaming of being an Ohio State student-athlete one day. Young fans and young baseball players look up to players like Barnwell as role models and Barnwell has some advice for them.
“First, stay positive and don’t be result oriented. Baseball is a game of failure. The greatest players in history failed seven out of 10 times. Keep a positive mindset and you will be better off. Second, be a good teammate. Be the first guy out of the dugout when your teammate does something great and be the first guy out when he does something bad. As Woody Hayes also said, “You win with people”. Third, respect and thank your parents for everything they do. Finally, just have fun! Baseball is much better when you are having fun.”
Barnwell exemplifies what it means to be a great athlete, teammate, role model and person and that is why he has been selected to the watch list of such a prestigious award.
“To be selected to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List is such an honor. Just to have your name put on a list for an award named after one of the greatest players to ever catch is a blessing. I just want to take this time to thank all the players and coaches past and present for helping me become the player I am today. It may be an individual award but without great coaching and teammates I wouldn’t be where I am today.”