Barrett Bouncing Back From Injuries

When a redshirt junior is only now participating in his first ever spring practice, it's fair to assume that he faced much adversity in his football career. Due to shoulder injuries, safety Josh Barrett has spent more time on the sidelines, as he has between the lines during his ASU career. Nevertheless, watching him in spring practice one would never have guessed that. Barrett told Devils Digest that while being injured was frustrating, it did make him a better player.

Josh Barrett injured his shoulder in the first contest of his true freshman season in 2003, and ended up redshirting that season. He sat out spring practice in 2004, and in the fall played in ten games (started in four) and collected 17 total tackles. He sat out spring practice the following year, which had him coming out of the gates slowly in 2005. However, he finished that campaign on a very strong note. He started the last two games of the season against Arizona and Rutgers in the Insight Bowl, and finished 7th overall on defense with 37 total tackles.

"It does seem like a long road," said Barrett on his maroon and gold tenure thus far, "but it's also a road that has taught me some lessons in football and what it takes (to succeed) at this level. Redshirting is a big year, because you see the guys that are in front of you and what level you need to play to be good. Riccardo Stewart was of the best safeties in the country, and I was blessed to have him show me his leadership on and off the field and how to prepare yourself. As a true freshman, I came out with a lot of intensity and it was unfortunate that I had that injury, and it then in re-occurred. But again, I learned a lot from it and it got me to where I am right now. I wish it never happened, but I can't look back."

Indeed, his focus has been on the present and he's making the most of his first ever spring practice. His performance in the last scrimmage, is just one more example of the high level he has been playing at recently, as well as playing with reckless abandon. "It's a good feeling to be out here, making plays, and getting the scheme down," he admitted. "I'm not holding back anything. Yeah, it's your teammates out there but you have to make some plays. You really can't hold back. We had a lot of guys step up today (Saturday) like Tranell Morant and Justin Tryon. We had a lot of intensity, and it started early before the scrimmage in our meetings, breaking down film and knowing your job."

The ASU coaches praised Barrett for how well he finished the 2005 season. Nearly a third of his total tackles were recorded in the team's last three games. Thus, it's no surprise to many that the safety is picking up where he left off. "I'm continuing the momentum and you have to really practice like you want to play," he explained. "It all starts on the practice field. We've been going out there hitting the grind pretty much everyday. When you practice hard the results show up on the field." He mentioned that his footwork and understanding of the scheme, are the two of the most notable areas of his improvement from last year.

Along with Barrett, Zach Catanese completes a very talented safety tandem, and the redshirt junior doesn't spare compliments when talking about his teammate. "It's cool having your best friend out there with you," he commented. "It makes it easier because you're always on the same page. It gets to the point that if I need to make a play and I don't make it, he'll tell me and vice versa. It's a great relationship. He has my back and I have his."

The rehab process is a grueling one on many levels. The obvious benefit is obviously getting back to full strength. However for Barrett, it was also valuable in developing his skills. "I guess it did help me in terms of speed and strength," he said. "I think our strength and conditioning staff does a great job and are probably one of the best in the country. They get you rehabbing very well."

How well did the rehab go you ask? Well, consider the fact that the 6-2 220 Barrett was reportedly clocked at 4.27 in a 40-yard dash, which is faster than the 4.29 former Sun Devil Shaun McDonald posted as he wowed NFL scouts on pro day before getting drafted. Being a speedster didn't only pay dividends on the field, but also help win a bet with running back Keegan Herring, who like some ASU players was an accomplished track athlete in high school. Herring sported a Mohawk haircut for rolling the dice and trying to beat Barrett in that friendly race.

"Keegan won't be winning any bets soon (laughs)," stated Barrett. "He needs to have some time under his belt before he starts winning bets from me. I was pretty confident and that's why I made the bet." The safety added that Herring has recently shaved his head due to the fact that Barrett allowed it and "gave him a break."

Battles for starting positions, exist in almost every group on this Arizona State squad. Nonetheless, at safety it seems that Barrett and Catanese are virtually immoveable from the first team. Barrett humbly disagrees regarding himself and that topic. "Hopefully that's the case, but it starts with us," he said. "We have to keep on working hard, get some film work down and keep on making plays out here."

After experiencing as much heartache as he did, taking anything for granted isn't an option.

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