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In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Athens High alumnus Joe Burrow celebrates being chosen first by the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 23, 2020. [NFL via AP]

Southeast Ohio native Joe Burrow set for next challenge

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ATHENS, OH — “The Heisman. The National Championship. The No.1  draft pick — it almost seems even crazier to me,” Athens head coach Nathan White said, who was Joe Burrow’s offensive coordinator from 2012-2014.

“What he means to Athens is almost hard to describe. And the coolest part for me is that Joe started as a kid from Athens and now he’s a kid from Southeast Ohio and I think eventually Ohio is going to adopt Joe,” White said.

Joe has become a blueprint for success for athletes in Southeast Ohio.

“It’s a clique to tell kids that we have living proof that if you wake up every day and grind to try and reach the goal that you can do it,” White said.

Everyday, Joe has worked harder to be the best leader he can be.

“By Week 5 or 6, when he was a sophomore, he was 15 or 16, he was our leader. And very rarely in high school football are leaders, not seniors, and very rarely are the seniors okay with that,” White said.

But now he must win the trust of a locker room full of grown men.

“He’s going to go in and work hard and earn their respect first and then slowly become a vocal leader and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win over that locker room in the first couple of years,” White said.

Joe has been a winner everywhere he has played. But maybe the greatest challenge of his life will be trying to bring the first super bowl to his hometown team.

“To think he could bring success back to that organization would be special if he didn’t anywhere, but a little bit different than he has a chance to do it in Ohio. I can’t even tell you how cool it would be and I think this whole state would be on board supporting that,” White said.