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It's time for Barron to blossom

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  • It's time for Barron to blossom

    When he'd leave the modest ranch house on Hillcrest Avenue in Orangeburg, S.C., young Alex Barron usually was headed for the outdoor basketball court nearby.

    It was — and still is — his favorite sport. He was good at it, too.

    Good enough to average a double-double at Wilkinson High, good enough to be invited to walk on at Florida State, and good enough, the 6-foot-7, 302-pound Barron insists, to have made a splash in college, and possibly the NBA. MORE RAMS

    "Truth be told, I think I would've been OK," he said. "I'm not here to say I would've been an all-star for 10 years or anything like that. But I know I'd have done pretty good in college."

    After a pause, Barron added softly, "But that's not the road I chose."

    In reality, the road chose him. It's led him to a new position — he's the Rams' first new full-time left tackle since 1997 — at the best possible time. Barron, 26, is in the final season of the original five-year, $9.2 million deal he signed in 2005, when the Rams took him in the first round of the draft.

    If his play this season suggests that he could rank among the league's top linemen, Barron, who became the Rams' first-team right tackle in his rookie season, stands to cash in — big time. Left tackles, charged with protecting a righthanded quarterback's blind side, are among the game's most valued, and best-compensated, performers.

    "He's talented, and he deserves it," his kid sister, Lasaundra, insisted. Barron doesn't feel entitled, though.

    "I try not to put any added pressure just because of what year it is for me," he said. "But I'm not going to lie and say I haven't thought about it. Why wouldn't I want to be in the conversation with the top tackles in the league? That'd be stupid."


    They still talk about "the play" in Orangeburg, a quiet, working-class hamlet of about 12,500 near the center of the state. The basketball fieldhouse at Wilkinson High was packed as the Bruins took on archrival Irmo.

    A teammate missed a free throw, and Barron soared after the loose ball. Here's how Barron described what happened next to The State, the newspaper of Columbia, S.C.: "I got the rebound, kind of squirmed and went up and let it go. I kind of turned around, so it was almost like a 360, but not all in the air."

    The climax was a rim-rattling slam dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. "The place exploded. They about took the roof off," said former coach Geb Runager, who was in the stands.

    Barron's father, also named Alex (they have different middle names), was Wilkinson's coach. "It was just unreal," he said. "I looked at my assistant coach and said, 'He could've been doing that all along.' ...

    "I just thought he pretty much could dominate a basketball game. But then again, when kids play for their father, you don't always get the optimum out of them."

    Basketball was Barron's fancy before he ever thought about football. He was always the tallest among his peers, and he enjoyed the intense but friendly competition on the playgrounds. Plus, he usually came out on top.

    The game came easily to each of the three Barron children. Zachary, 24, is a 6-6 forward at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., and Lasaundra, 20, is a 6-2 forward at Claflin College in Orangeburg. Their mother, Lucinda, is a professor at South Carolina State.

    Football became an option for Alex in middle school, although the hulking seventh-grader didn't sign up right away.

    "Finally one day that August, (Alex) came to me and said he needed $10 for the physical" exam, his father recalled. "I gave him the $10, but I sure didn't realize he was going to be that good."


    By his junior year in high school, Barron was drawing offers from most of the top college programs. He considered Georgia, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Southern California and Tennessee before settling on the Seminoles.

    By then, he'd realized that football was the road to take.

    "I saw it as a good opportunity to go to college, meet some new people, get a little football in," Barron said. "If I didn't have a scholarship, I wouldn't have been at Florida State; there's no way."

    After a brief, final foray with basketball his freshman year, Barron turned fully to football, recognizing that he might be able to make a career of it. "I let (basketball) go, and sometimes I think I shouldn't have," he said. "But I'm past that now."

    A two-time consensus All-American who played mostly on the left side at Florida State and possessed off-the-chart measurables — 4.82 speed in the 40 and a 38-inch vertical leap among them — Barron was coveted by NFL scouts. He fell to the Rams at No. 19 overall largely because some teams felt that the shy, reserved Barron lacked the proper fervor for the game.

    "He's soft-spoken, doesn't say much; that's just part of his personality, and I think people kind of misread him sometimes," his father said. "But you can't play the game for as many years as he has and at that level without being competitive.

    "And he's very competitive. He doesn't like to get beat."


    Chris Long, the Rams' second-year defensive end, can attest to that. He's been going against Barron regularly in training camp.

    "He's really athletic and he's got super-long arms, so he can reach out and get his hands on you immediately," Long said. "It's hard to get off at that point, even though he's not the heaviest guy in the world."

    Barron, who played 15 games on the left side in 2007 after Orlando Pace was injured, "looks more comfortable" there, running back Steven Jackson said. "I think Alex is a natural left tackle."

    Still, the move is more challenging than some might imagine, Barron pointed out. "It's a whole different technique, a whole different balance set," he said. "It's footwork, hips, hands — it's like the complete opposite."

    The reports are encouraging, though. "I think he's been pretty good; no major issues," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

    "Well," said the elder Barron, "he does have a little problem with the false starts."

    Barron was flagged early in the Aug. 7 scrimmage, drawing groans from the large crowd at Lindenwood University. But he was penalty-free in the preseason opener (he didn't play Friday night vs. Atlanta because of a swollen knee) and hasn't false-started much during training camp.

    "He's coming into that veteran status, where there's really not much the defense can throw at him that he hasn't seen before," seventh-year lineman Adam Goldberg said. "Around this time, you see that for the elite tackles, the game starts to slow down for them."

    And can Barron emerge as an elite tackle?

    "I'm not one to compare," he said. "I'll just let everybody else say what they've got to say. I don't really have too much to say about all that."

    But to Long, it's a slam dunk.

    "I got to see some great left tackles last year, and I really do feel like Alex is a rising star in the league at that spot," Long said. "I feel like this is going to be a breakout year for him, where people start to realize this is a premier left tackle."

  • #2
    Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

    Mentally I think Barron is finished. Jason Smith is going to be our LT for the next 12 years. I like the way Spags is handling this all, Jason Smith is incredibly raw, but his upside is incredible and to throw him to the wolves in his rookie season would be suicide. The kid never put his hand on the ground at Baylor from what I know. Anyways, I think this is Barron's last season, he'll either hurt himself again or get Bulger killed and then that'll be that, he'll be looking for work in Oakland or something.


    • #3
      Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

      Not ready to give up on Barron. We need all the talent we can get on the OLine.

      Go Rams


      • #4
        Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

        Much like the QB, an offensive lineman needs cohesiveness on the line to have success.
        Alot of people are quick point out Barrons missteps, truth is, Alex has really blossomed since coming to the Rams. Alex had a solid season last year, as he cut down on the penalties and he rarely missed a snap. He now plays at his natrual position, now that Pace is gone.
        If only the Rams can keep a consistant and solid frontline (Smith, Bell, Brown, Incognito, Barron, McMichael) a better light will surely shine on AB.


        • #5
          Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

          Agreed. We need to have Barron work his hardest out there. Who knows, maybe under good coaching (Spags) he can develope into a good player. We can only hope.


          • #6
            Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

            I'm w/ Dominating D, not ready to give up yet .... (the ETERNAL optimist?)

            Come on, son. We Really ..... REALLY need ya.
            If a team won their division seven straight times, that would be a NFL record. Now add on that team did it with seven different QB's in seven straight years,that record is unbeatable. To do that feat, you must of had a great Defense. Jack Youngblood was the captain of that defense.


            • #7
              Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

              Barron shined in 07 when he took over the left side when Pace went down in the first game. Now I fully expect him to shine again now that he's playing his real position. He's not built for the right side. He's too small and not strong enough for the bull rushers that populate the left side of a defense.

              Smith on the other side is big enough and nasty enough to be perfect on the right side, which is why we picked him in my opinion. Of course, he can man the left side as well, but I think he's destined to be a top right tackle bookending with Barron on the left.

              Smith's big, strong and a run blocker primarily, just like a prototype right tackle. Meanwhile Barron is lithe(for a 300 pounder) and quick with huge arms, and is great at pass blocking. Personally I feel we drafted hoping that Barron shines this year and I bet that he does, just watch.
              I believe!:ram:


              • #8
                Re: It's time for Barron to blossom

                I agree with TorontoRams. Justin Smith will be the man.


                Related Topics


                • evil disco man
                  Read About Alex Barron...
                  by evil disco man
                  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...
                  -04-23-2005, 02:05 PM
                • RamWraith
                  Offensive lineman Alex Barron is unusually quick
                  by RamWraith
                  By Bill Coats
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                  Sunday, Sep. 24 2006

                  Florida State tailback Leon Washington thought he was alone as he sprinted
                  toward the end zone two Octobers ago against Syracuse. Then he glanced to his
                  side and saw teammate Alex Barron cruising stride for stride with him.

                  "I'm telling you, you could line him up at running back," an incredulous
                  Washington told reporters later.

                  A 6-foot-7, 315-pound running back would be quite a site. Anyway, the Rams
                  prefer to keep Barron at right tackle, where he has been a starter since the
                  fourth game of his rookie season last year.

                  For the second half of Sunday's game in San Francisco and during most of this
                  past week in practice, Barron and right guard Adam Timmerman were the only
                  familiar faces on a patched-together offensive line.

                  At center, Richie Incognito has replaced Andy McCollum, who suffered a
                  season-ending knee injury in the opener, with newcomer Adam Goldberg at left
                  guard and first-year Ram Todd Steussie at left tackle in place of Orlando Pace,
                  who suffered a concussion late in the second period vs. the *****.

                  Barron called his elder-statesman status "kind of funny. This time last year, I
                  was just chilling on the sidelines, just hanging, watching the team."

                  The team's first-round draft pick, Barron missed 19 days of training camp
                  before signing a five-year, $9.2 million deal. He was on the inactive list for
                  the first two games while he hustled to gain at least a minimal understanding
                  of the offense. Barron suited up for the third game, Sept. 25 vs. Tennessee,
                  and with starter Blaine Saipaia struggling, was tossed into the fray late in
                  the third quarter. On his first NFL snap, Barron flattened Titans defensive end
                  Kyle Vanden Bosch.

                  Barron started 11 of the final 13 games; he missed two with a thumb injury that
                  required surgery. The results generally were positive, but hardly overwhelming.

                  "He got into the system kind of under fire," said offensive line coach Paul
                  Boudreau, a member of new coach Scott Linehan's staff. "He really didn't
                  understand the whole picture."

                  Two games into his second season, "I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable,"
                  Barron reported.

                  "He's doing the things you want to improve on from your first year to your
                  second," Linehan said. "He's a very good pass protector, and his run-blocking
                  is better. He's progressing very well."

                  Barron's athleticism belies his position -- he's no "hog." At Florida State's
                  pro day, Barron impressed the scouts with his performance, which included a
                  4.82-second 40 and...
                  -09-24-2006, 06:32 AM
                • RamWraith
                  Barron Poised for a Breakout
                  by RamWraith
                  Thursday, August 3, 2006

                  By Nick Wagoner
                  Senior Writer

                  A year ago around this time, Alex Barron was at home in Orangeburg, S.C., awaiting a contract offer from the Rams that would meet he and his agent’s desires.

                  This year, though, things are much different for Barron. After a 16-day holdout that was trumped among first-rounders only by Chicago running back Cedric Benson, Barron reported to St. Louis on Aug. 11, 2005.

                  For all intents and purposes, Barron is actually participating in his first professional training camp.

                  “To tell you the truth, when I got here last year they had already played the Bears and camp was about over with,” Barron said. “This is actually like my first camp. It’s all right. It’s something everybody has to go through every year to get ready for the season.”

                  The time Barron missed last season probably cost him a shot at being the starter at right tackle for the entirety of his rookie season. Soon after the Rams used the 19th pick in the draft on Barron, he was declared the starter by coach Mike Martz.

                  But Barron fell behind during the holdout as he initially had trouble switching to the right side after playing a lot of left tackle at Florida State. He also was way behind on the playbook because of all the missed installation periods. So, Barron was declared inactive for the first two games of the regular season.

                  “It was kind of difficult,” Barron said. “I was learning the plays, learning the system and coming from college (adjusting) to the speed of the game and things like that.”

                  Finally, on Sept. 25 against Tennessee, Barron got his first action, replacing a struggling Blaine Saipaia at right tackle. Barron manhandled Titans’ defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch repeatedly and recovered a key fumble in the fourth quarter. He had staked his claim to a starting job he would not relinquish the rest of the season were it not for a hand injury.

                  Barron went on to start 11 games, playing in 12 and acquitted himself well against the likes of the Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. Still, Barron was not content with his debut season.

                  “You can’t really ever be satisfied,” Barron said. “As a team, we had some different things goal wise and individual. You can never be satisfied you just look to the next year to get better.”

                  For Barron, one aspect of getting better meant working diligently in the offseason to improve his physical stature. He played last season in the 315-320 pound range, but estimates that he somewhere below 310 pounds right now. In the opening days of training camp, Barron has looked slimmer yet stronger.

                  To get to the level that he wants, though, the real task for Barron will be improving on the mental aspects of the game. Silly errors plagued Barron as a rookie and it’s something he and coach Scott Linehan hope to improve...
                  -08-03-2006, 06:54 PM
                • Nick
                  Barron is sent to the bench
                  by Nick
                  Barron is sent to the bench
                  BY BILL COATS
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                  Monday, Oct. 05 2009

                  SAN FRANCISCO — A former first-round draft choice getting the opportunity of
                  his NFL career this year, Rams tackle Alex Barron appears to floundering rather
                  than flourishing.

                  Barron, the 19th overall selection in the 2005 draft, was banished to the
                  sideline by coach Steve Spagnuolo just before halftime Sunday in the Rams' 35-0
                  loss to the San Francisco *****. Barron was yanked after failing to line up
                  properly, prompting an illegal-formation penalty that negated a first-down pass
                  play and snuffed a promising drive.

                  John Greco, a third-round draftee in 2008, finished the game at left tackle.
                  Although offering little elaboration about the move, Spagnuolo cautioned about
                  drawing any conclusions from it.

                  "I told the group I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Alex Barron,"
                  Spagnuolo said. "I just felt that was something we had to do at that particular

                  The Rams trailed 7-0 at the time. Barron was a spectator during the second
                  half, when the ***** turned the NFC West contest into a rout.

                  "It was just a decision made by the coach, and that was that," Barron said.
                  "You don't want to get pulled, but it happens."

                  It hadn't happened to Barron in his first four seasons, though. He'd started 62
                  of 64 games, the vast majority of them at right tackle. After the offseason
                  release of seven-time Pro Bowler Orlando Pace, Barron took over at the
                  all-important left tackle spot, on a righthanded quarterback's blind side.

                  That's where the money is among NFL linemen. In the final season of his
                  original contract, Barron figured to cash in heavily in 2010 — either by
                  re-signing with the Rams or in free agency — if he put together a solid

                  With the Rams 0-4, averaging a moribund six points a game, and Barron benched,
                  that big payday could be slipping away.

                  "You can't do much about a guy getting pulled," left guard Jacob Bell said.
                  "The head coach has his reasons; you never know exactly what he's thinking.
                  You've just got to work with what you've got."

                  In Greco, the Rams have a 6-foot-4, 329-pounder who is just getting back into
                  form after having wrist surgery a month ago. A left tackle at the University of
                  Toledo, Greco had been working at that position only recently with the Rams.

                  "I wanted to show that I could play anywhere," he said. "I was kind of getting
                  ready for it this week (in practice). I got an opportunity to get in there, and
                  hopefully I did my job."

                  -10-05-2009, 08:36 AM
                • RamWraith
                  Barron emerges as a dependable rookie
                  by RamWraith
                  By Bill Coats
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  Rams offensive line coach John Matsko ordered center Andy McCollum to clam up the other day during a unit meeting. It wasn't that Matsko was angry because McCollum was whispering to guard Adam Timmerman.

                  The problem was that rookie tackle Alex Barron, whose soft voice belies his large size, was being drowned out - even though McCollum was barely audible.

                  "I couldn't hear what Alex was saying," Matsko explained.

                  "I'm not a rowdy guy, and I don't have much to say," Barron told reporters when he played at Florida State. That hasn't changed since Barron arrived in St. Louis last spring.

                  "He's extremely quiet," Matsko said. "But he's really into football. He's very open and very responsive, very acceptable to coaching. He really wants to do it the way you teach it."

                  After a rocky start, Barron has emerged as exactly what the Rams hoped he would be when they took him in the first round of the draft: a dependable starter at right tackle.

                  "He continues to get better every game," interim head coach Joe Vitt said.

                  Barron grew up in Orangeburg, S.C., where he worked summers as a bagger and stock boy at a local grocery (sound familiar?).

                  He chose Florida State over Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and, after nearly leaving early, became a consensus All-American - and completed his degree in social science - his senior year.

                  Longtime Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden has called Barron one of the top offensive linemen he's had, and several scouting services rated Barron, 23, as the top offensive lineman in the draft. But tackle Jammal Brown of Oklahoma was taken six spots earlier; some teams reportedly were scared by Barron's gentle demeanor.

                  Coach Mike Martz called the Rams' selection of Barron at No. 19 overall "a major step in solidifying our offensive line."

                  When Barron visited Rams Park a few days after the draft, Martz declared him the starting right tackle.

                  By early August, however, Barron had taken up residence in Martz's doghouse. He missed the first 19 days of training camp in a contract dispute. When Barron finally showed up after signing a five-year, $9.2 million deal, a peeved Martz said Barron was so far behind that he doubted whether he could help the team this season.

                  Barron wasn't deterred, though.

                  "I can't say I was too worried about it," he said. "I kind of took things as they came."

                  And he took Martz's criticism as a challenge.

                  "He battled," Matsko said. "I'm very impressed with both his physical toughness and mental toughness. Because he's had some stuff go wrong, and he bounces back with determination."

                  Inactive for...
                  -12-24-2005, 04:37 AM