Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Proper attitude lifts Barbre to highest level
(This post ran as my column last week in the Newton County News.)
The East Newton High School football season is four months away, but the talk this weekend in this area has been all football.
The Green Bay Packers' selection of Missouri Southern State University lineman, and EN graduate Allen Barbre, Sunday in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, marked the first time a former Patriot has been drafted.
For a school whose last major area football publicity came when the Joplin Globe decided to take advantage of a season when the program was at its lowest ebb, this is a major shot in the arm.
It also offers a big lift for MSSU, whose last top drawer NFL player, wide receiver Rod Smith of the Denver Broncos, is on the last legs of a solid career.
Barbre told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had no serious thoughts about an NFL career until after his junior year at Southern. "My coach asked me if I had any aspirations to play in the NFL," Barbre told the newspaper.. "It kind of started hitting me then, and it just went from there."
Packersnews.com suggests Barbre could become an immediate factor for Green Bay, even though it is hard to know how much you can trust a website that refers to MSSU as Southern Missouri State:
James Campen, the Packers’ offensive line coach, said that in one game videotape Barbre had 16 pancake blocks, which is a sign of how dominant a player he was in Division II. Campen considers him a good prospect at left tackle, which is the key position on the offensive line because he protects the quarterback's blind side against premier speed rushers.
“Just his athleticism, he’s got good length, he’s very capable of vertical setting for speed rushers,” Campen said. “And the biggest thing with kid is he’s a finisher. He runs down the field, he finishes downfield, he covers people up. Many times we use the word displace, he can displace five-techniques (at defensive end) in the run game. And he’s a tremendous finisher in the pass game.”
The importance of protecting the quarterback's blind side is even more important to a team like the Packers, which has aging quarterback Brett Favre, entering what will probably be the last year in a career that saw him lead his team to two Super Bowl championships.
Strength and quickness are Barbre's chief assets. Nearly every article about the lineman says he was either the quickest or second-quickest among this year's lineman crop. The Post-Dispatch article says scouts believe Barbre can add another 15 pounds to his 305-pound frame without sacrificing any mobility.
Another quality that will serve the EN grad well is his rock-solid attitude. Before the draft, he told the Post-Dispatch, "I need to adjust to the level and the speed of the game and work on my technique and ... just learn the game a lot better," he said. "Plus, I want to grow as a player and grow as an individual."
That kind of attitude served Allen Barbre well as a Patriot and as a Lion; it should be equally successful in the pros.