Read About Alex Barron...
O-W product Barron's dream to come true in NFL draft
By THOMAS GRANT JR., T&D Senior Sports Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Alex Barron probably heard the song "When You Wish Upon A Star" throughout his previous visit to Disney World.
If he listened closely to the lyrics of the song's famous first verse, the former Florida State and Orangeburg-Wilkinson All-American offensive tackle could probably identify with them:
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
It was more than a decade ago when Barron's father, O-W Men's Basketball Coach Alex Barron, paid $10 for his then seventh-grade son to take a physical to participate in football. It was an investment on a dream of football greatness Barron's father had envisioned for him.
By the time Barron was a sophomore at O-W, he was already receiving college scholarship offers from schools like Michigan State and South Carolina State. Barron's star continued to shine through his senior year when he was named to the Shrine Bowl, was named a Prep Star and Football News All-American and became the first and only offensive lineman to earn T&D Region High School Football Player of the Year honors, which he co-shared with Dorchester Academy's Derek Weathers.
I'm not surprised," said Calhoun County Football Coach Tommy Brown, who coached Barron at O-W. "Very athletic. He had a lot of magic tools that you can't teach, and he had size to go with it. I felt like, barring injuries, he would have a chance to compete on the next level."
The elder Barron would get a major return on his "investment" when Barron accepted a scholarship offer at Florida State. Now as the younger Barron, his parents and several guests take advantage of a free trip to the "Land of Make Believe," his NFL dreams will finally become a reality. As this year's top offensive lineman prospect, Barron is projected to be selected in the first round of today's NFL Draft, possibly somewhere in the Top 15.
Perhaps it's fitting that Barron will watch the draft proceedings in the "Magic Kingdom" as compared to the crowded, somewhat serious atmosphere at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For someone who with one swipe of the pen will become an instant multi-millionaire and earn the distinction as the first T&D Region high school alumnus to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, the 23-year-old Barron remained in the days leading to Saturday as carefree as a young child with no worries in the world.
"Right now, I'm real calm about the whole situation," said Barron in an interview prior to his departure to Orlando, Fla. "I have been for a long time and that just comes with my personality. I'm a real laid-back type. I have no choice but to think about (the draft), but I'm trying not to think about it much until Saturday gets here."
Aside from assuring his friends and family that's everything's fine with him daily on the telephone, Barron has spent most of the past three months since his final collegiate game at Florida State working out before interested scouts. Coming off a senior campaign where he earned All-American honors for the second straight year and being named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, Barron used pro days at Florida State and the NFL Combine to maintain his standing as the top NFL offensive lineman prospect.
Just one glance at Barron in action and outside his pads and it's easy to see why. A physical marvel whose combination of uncanny agility (38-inch vertical leap), strength (squatted 523 lbs. and bench-pressed 395 lbs. at Pro Day at Florida State), speed (4.83 seconds in the 40) to go with a six-foot, seven-inch frame and a 7'6" wingspan (the longest among NFL scouts), Barron has proven to be a nightmare to opposing defensive lineman. He did not allow a single sack this past season and averaged eight knockdowns a game.
Barron's on-field prowess earned him the ultimate praise from Seminoles' Head Coach Bobby Bowden, who called him the best offensive tackle he's ever coached. This was especially telling since Bowden also coached Pro Bowlers Walter Jones of Seattle, the sixth overall pick in 1997, and Tra Thomas of Philadelphia, picked 11th overall in 1998.
"That's a great compliment," he said. "I think about it all the time when I see him and everything he's done for me. For him to put me in the same category as Walter Jones, it's a great honor. I worked hard this past season. Walter Jones worked hard when he was (at Florida State). He's one of the best offensive linemen in history and to be compared to him is great."
Barron was equally complimentary of his high school football coach, whom he greatly credited for instilling in him a strong on-field work ethic.
"Coach Brown's a great coach," he said. "He still is. I love him as a coach, as a person. To this day, Coach Brown is one of my influences. His coaching, his influence verbally helped me a lot, and I would recommend him for any team or any school. He's a great coach and what he taught me and what he told me, I used in college which was to work hard and have discipline."
Barron found both Brown and Bowden comparable in their coaching methods and spirituality.
"They're both inspirational coaches in their speeches," he said. "They're both men of God. They relate that a lot to football. Other than that, they're both great coaches."
For all the effusive praise Barron has received, he's also taken some hits in recent days from some NFL draft observers. In most cases, they have raised questions about Barron's toughness, whether he has the "mean streak" to excel in the NFL and even dwelled on his injury history.
Barron was granted a medical redshirt in 2000 as a freshman to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, broke both hands in separate practices in 2001 and underwent shoulder surgery after the 2004 Orange Bowl game against archrival the University of Miami (Fla.).
Not surprisingly, Barron's strong support system with his father and mother, Lucinda Barron, and positive mindset makes it easy for such criticism to bounce off him like an unsuspecting linebacker in his blocking path. He also believes his quiet, non-agressive demeanor has been misconstrued as a negative by such NFL draft experts like Mel Kiper and Gil Brandt
"Everybody is going to say what they want anyway. That's just the way they think they see things, but I know like everybody else that's on the field, I get the job done. How you do it, it's up to the person and some people think that you should act a certain way or perform a certain way.
"As long as you're getting the job done, it shouldn't matter. There have been a lot of guys in the past like, for example, Walter Jones, they said he wasn't aggressive. They didn't think he was tough just because he's a soft-spoken, calm guy, but that's just his personality and I have a similar personality. Then you have the other guys who are a little more aggressive verbally who kind of stand out a little more."
If there's someone who has an ideas as to how Barron will fare in the NFL, it would be his high school whose list of future pros could grow to five after this weekend.
"I think he is (tough enough)," Brown said. "Alex is a special kid. He has the personality that he's just not mean. But he also has the ability to get the job done. He's going to do exactly what it takes to get the job done. You don't have to I think be totally mean, but I think he's got to realize what he can do and use your ability to get it done. I think Alex is the type of kid that has the tools to get it done."
Should Barron not get drafted in the Top 10, it would be the first time since 1999 that an offensive lineman has not been selected that high. Such facts matter little to Barron as long as he hears Paul Tagliabue announce his name and new team.
When asked what his reaction will be when he signs the lucrative contract negotiated by his agent Roosevelt Barnes Jr. of Maximum Sports Management, an incredulous look appears on Barron's face like a kid headed to Disney World.
"I'll probably be like 'Wow!!," he said. "This is all mine? Is this for me? And I'll realize that when a thousand people telling me 'Yeah, this is yours.
What are you going to do about it?'" When I see it, I guess it will be a shock to me. I already know it's going to happen, but just seeing is believing it."
# T&D Senior Sports Writer Thomas Grant Jr. can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803-533-5547.
Re: Read About Alex Barron...
Despite concerns, Alex Barron insists he can be as nasty as he wants to be ... when he has to be
By DAVID NEWTON
CHARLOTTE — Whenever Alex Barron hears that his son lacks the nasty streak it takes to be a top NFL offensive tackle, he remembers the time his namesake’s helmet was ripped off by a defensive end from Aiken High.
At the time, the younger Barron was a star at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
“I was sitting in the stands and said, ‘The next play, you’ll see. He’ll put him on his butt,’” the elder Barron recalled. “And sure enough, they ran that play behind him, and he put that guy right on his back.
“That’s the kind of kid he is. He’s not going to physically fight you. He’s just going to play the game like it should be played.”
Nasty streak or not, the 6-foot-7, Alex Barron Jr., a 320-pound senior from Florida State, likely will be the first offensive lineman taken in today’s NFL draft.
He is projected to go anywhere from the 10th to 15th pick but is unlikely to get past the Carolina Panthers at No.14.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Barron said. “There has been a lot put out there about me not having a mean streak. I don’t believe that is a question.
“At times it may not look like I have any desire or heart for the game, but I’ve got it all.”
Barron’s father, the basketball coach at O-W, said those who say his son lacks a nasty streak are groping.
“If you watch film on him, he just goes about getting his job done,” he said. “You don’t have to have a nasty mean streak. If that’s the only thing they judge him on then they’re wrong.”
The elder Barron offered as evidence three facts.
First, his son was a two-time All-American at Florida State who allowed one sack last season.
Second, FSU coach Bobby Bowden said the younger Barron could become the best tackle he has coached. That is a strong statement considering Bowden coached Walter Jones (sixth pick in ’97) and Tra Thomas (11th in ’98).
Third, Barron ran the 40-yard dash in 4.83 seconds during Pro Day at Florida State. That time was faster than that of half of the tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“He got the job done in a quiet way, but he’ll block you into the ground before he lets you get to that quarterback,” Barron Sr. said. “I remember in the last bowl game when the big defensive end from West Virginia knocked his helmet off. The next several plays he just went after the guy.
“That is a mean streak that is not really exposed, but it’s a mean streak.”
New Orleans-based draft analyst Mike Detillier said the nasty streak concern is overblown. He said people used to say the same thing about tackle Willie Roaf when he came to the Saints.
Roaf became a nine-time Pro Bowl player.
“He used to laugh at that,” Detillier said. “He said when you play left tackle, the biggest thing you have to do is play under control because you have the best defensive end in the world coming at you.”
Detillier said the drawback on Barron is technique and strength, a problem he has seen with other Florida State linemen the past few years.
Detillier agrees with most draft experts that Barron can be a potentially dominant NFL left tackle in the mold of Orlando Pace, who was the top pick of the 1997 draft.
He said that Tom Shaw, a pro football speed and performance enhancement coach in New Orleans who has prepared Barron for the draft, “raves about what type of athlete he is.”
“Does he have a nasty streak?” Detillier said. “You’re about the third guy that has asked me that.”
Barron heard the question many more times at the combine, where he did not participate in all of the drills on the advice of his agent. He simply told coaches and general managers if they were looking for a rah-rah player he wasn’t that guy.
“Turn on the tape and you’ll see what I can do,” Barron said. “Look close enough, and you’ll see there is a real passion simmering below (the surface) with me.
“I mean, there’s probably been a couple of times in my career where I’ve gone after a lineman and screamed, ‘What the hell are you trying to do to me?’ But no, not too often.”
Barron said he’s not the type of player to grab an opponent by the facemask to get his attention. He prefers to let his speed, agility and size do his dirty work.
“Part of it is attitude, too, like feeling you have to treat the quarterback as if he’s a family member,” he told reporters at the combine. “You think like, ‘Yeah, what if that was my mother or sister back there, and somebody is trying to mess with them? What if that (defensive player) was a thief, trying to break into our house?’
“It’s kind of like the commercial where the players screams, ‘We must protect this house!’ “
Barron opted not to protect quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, again on the advice of his agent. Some read that to mean a lack of passion.
“Hey, a two-time All-American playing in the Senior Bowl ... he didn’t have anything to prove,” his father said. “If he had played he wouldn’t have helped his stock, and he could have been injured.”
Barron visited three teams: Miami (No. 2), Tennessee (No. 6) and St. Louis (No. 19). Detillier expects Barron to go to Houston at No. 13 or Carolina a No. 14.
The Panthers don’t appear to have reservations about the mean streak. Three years ago draft analysts said North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers took plays off.
Peppers had 12 sacks as a rookie despite missing four games and was named to the Pro Bowl this past season.
“He’s regarded as one of the top players in the draft, and certainly one of the top tackles,” Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said of Barron.
Barron will wait for his call at the ESPN Club at Disney’s Boardwalk in Orlando, Fla. He will be joined by a small group of family and friends, none of which are concerned about his nasty streak.
Reach Newton at (803) 802-2091 or Sportsscribe01@aol.com
Re: Read About Alex Barron...
A college jester, Barron no joke on the O-line
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Mary Kay Cabot
Plain Dealer Reporter
Florida State offensive tackle Alex Barron was a practice-field jokester, but the Seminoles' offensive coordinator, Jeff Bowden, thinks the clowning around will stop once he gets to the NFL.
"In some ways, it's good to have a kid like that, but when you see a player with the talent that Alex has, you wish he'd have been a little more serious about it," said Bowden.
Bowden's theory is that the massive Barron (6-7½, 318) had time to goof around a little because the college game was child's play to him.
"He was never really challenged here for his position," said Bowden. "I think the seriousness will come when he plays with men instead of boys."
Barron is widely regarded as the top offensive tackle in the draft and one of the players the Browns will most likely consider if they trade down from No. 3 in the first round. Barron is projected to go somewhere between No. 8 and No. 15. The Browns are set at tackle with Ross Verba and Ryan Tucker, but Verba is seeking a big new contract.
"Alex has some maturing to do, but I don't mean that in a bad way," said Bowden.
"I just think that when he's challenged every day by men who do this for a living, he'll grow up. Here, he was kind of laid back and did what he had to do - but what he did was pretty darn good."
In fact, Bowden ranks Barron right up there with the best two tackles to come out of FSU - Walter Jones and Tra Thomas.Jones was picked No. 6 by the Seahawks in 1997 and has made five Pro Bowls. Thomas was No. 11 by the Eagles in 1998 and has made the last three Pro Bowls.
"Walter may be more athletic than Alex, but Alex is not far behind," said Bowden. "To say that Alex is near Walter is saying a ton."
Bowden said Barron is "85 percent to 90 percent of where he'll be in the NFL. Whoever takes him will be happy with him and I think he'll be a Pro Bowl player."
One scout pointed out that Jones was also considered "soft" when he was coming out of the draft.
"I don't think you can question Alex's toughness, just his seriousness, and that will come," said Bowden. "I know our ends didn't like to go against him."
On Barron's Pro Day at FSU, he dazzled scouts with a 4.86 in the 40, a 38-inch vertical leap and a wingspan of 7 feet, 6 inches - longest of anyone in the draft.
Barron, a two-time All-American, is known for being dominant on pass plays but lacks some consistency on runs. Still, he led the Seminoles with 64 pancake blocks last season and allowed only one sack.
"Alex is a freak," said his agent, Roosevelt Barnes. "If he gets drafted by the Browns, I'm going to try to get him to play power forward for the Cavs, too. He can help LeBron James. No question, he can average 10 rebounds a game in the NBA."
Barron, who played basketball for his dad in high school in South Carolina, contemplated walking onto the FSU basketball team. But a torn anterior cruciate ligament during his freshman year thwarted those plans.
"He'd have been an outstanding college basketball player, an outstanding college basketball player," coach Bobby Bowden told the Orlando Sentinel. "He's got all that talent, all that athleticism that most linemen don't have. . . . He's been blessed with phenomenal athletic ability and puts it to good use."
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