Buckeyes on the Frontlines

Former football captain works for the Columbus Division of Police

by Jerry Emig

Former Ohio State football team captain C.J. Barnett is still a member of a team: that of the Columbus (Ohio) Division of Police, where he is in his second year patrolling the city, looking out for others and taking care of others.

Barnett is one of nearly a dozen former Ohio State student-athletes who we caught up with this summer who are on the front lines working hard during this global COVID-19 pandemic. Like the other former Buckeyes, Barnett credits his time as an Ohio State Buckeye and his education here with preparing him to handle the uncertainty of today and the demands he encounters as a police officer.

How did Ohio State and athletics prepare you for what you are dealing with?

“Ohio State prepared me in several ways. The first being, how to handle adversity. I learned that things will not always be easy and there are definitely times of turmoil or despair, but this is when it is most important to stick to your strengths. Secondly, Ohio State instilled that ‘team’ is most important and to simply do your job. In this situation we are all dealing with, we have to do our jobs and control what we can control.”

Ohio State Buckeyes

What has this pandemic been like for you?

“Life for everyone has changed, and that goes for law enforcement as well. With so much interaction with communities, we see some of the effects and stresses COVID-19 has put on people. While we’re doing our jobs, we also have to let others do theirs, though, and not be so critical of one another so much.”

Any encouraging words for others like you who are on these front lines?

“This is a part of what we signed up for: to be a pillar, to be a role model, to lead, to have a positive impact. There’s no more important time than now to do it. Let’s do our part!”

How best can we help?

“I think the main thing is trying to remember WE are in this together and not be selfish. We all need to help out and be there for each other in these trying times. We need to remember our humanity as we and others try to navigate through this. We are up against a tough opponent. We can’t allow ourselves to get in our own way of persevering through this.”

C.J. Barnett – Back as a Buckeye

C.J. was a four-year letterwinner for the football team between 2010 and 2013 … part of a school-record 24-consecutive wins during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, including only the sixth undefeated, untied team in school history in 2012 (12-0) … led the Buckeyes in tackles in 2011 with 75 … voted as a team captain in 2013 … graduated in 2013 with his degree in communications … intercepted a Devin Gardner pass late in the fourth quarter to clinch the 26-21 victory over Michigan in 2012 at Ohio Stadium, a win that started Ohio State’s current eight-game winning streak over its rivals from the north … played in 44 games and started 36 times … totaled 224 career tackles and eight interceptions … originally from Dayton, Ohio and Northmont High School.


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