Utah linebacker receives BYU offer

The Cougar defensive coaches have been searching across many states for future linebackers to not only represent BYU's faith-based program on and off the field, but to also help bring that identity to the forefront with victories. They've found a linebacker within their own state that they feel can fit that bill.

His name is Sean Barton and he's from Woods Cross High School, located just outside Bountiful.

"Right now I'm about 6'2", almost 6'3", and weigh in at around 205 right now," said Barton, who has been offered by BYU. "My weight room stats, I bench press around 295 pounds. I had a problem with my back and haven't maxed out in my squat for a while. If I had to guess, I would say around 365ish."

Barton, who will be a senior next year, plays multiple positions for Woods Cross High School.

"Yeah, between the last two years I played both ways," he said. "Last year I played outside linebacker and inside linebacker. This year I was moved to strong safety.

"On offense I played running back, receiver and tight end. You name it and I've played it, pretty much."

As a defender, Barton prides himself on being a hard-hitting ball hawk.

"On defense I get off blocks really well and that's one of my favorite things to do," he said. "I'm fast and I ran the forty in 4.6 last year. I like to lead and I think I'm a good leader on my team both vocally and by example. Up at Woods Cross we've kind of been the bottom feeder up here.

"I'm just trying to work hard and put that ethic in the school, so now I think we've all been trying to work hard to change things. We've had two or three playoff seasons and I've been a part of two of them, so we've been sort of turning things around. That's definitely my main goal right now. "

When looking at his stats, it's easy to understand why many colleges are showing interest.

"For tackles, I want to say [I had] between 110 and 120 last year," Barton said. "I had two picks and don't know how many forced fumbles.

"On the offensive side of the ball I had 1,300 yards completely between running and catching. I think I had around 18 or 19 touchdowns. I caught balls out of the backfield and from the slot position last year. They did a lot of screens for me and ran the fade for me."

Barton boasts a very good vertical leap, and has even played power forward for the Woods Cross basketball team.

"Yeah, I've got a pretty good vertical jump," said Barton. "I can jump around a 35-inch vertical and can dunk a basketball. I do play basketball and would be playing right now except I just had surgery on my thumb."

Barton is being recruited by a lot of top-quality programs from various conferences.

"Right now I'm talking to a bunch of schools," he said. "I'm talking to Utah, BYU, Stanford, Utah State, UCLA, Oregon State, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Michigan are the main ones right now."

So what is it that Barton likes about the in-state schools recruiting him?

"I definitely like that they're close to home," he said. "I grew up a Utah fan but have been actually learning – which was hard at first – to really like the BYU coaches that are there. They're great guys."

Having taken a more holistic look at BYU, Barton has learned firsthand what the school is all about.

"Their thing with missionaries is what I like a lot and I'll probably go on a mission," he said. "I'm not 100 percent positive, but I'm thinking I'll probably go on a mission before I go [to college]. That's a big part of it for me.

"BYU is all about the Church, and that's what the football program stands for. Like, they definitely don't shy away about it, and put themselves out there as that being who they are. That's really cool to me, and with me being a member of the Church, that's a big part of my life. So, that's cool to me."

With Bountiful being close to the University of Utah, there are a lot of Utah supporters there naturally. Barton, like everyone else, participated in his fair share of good-natured rivalry fun while growing up.

"It's pretty even up here and it was kind of fun growing up in the rivalry because people would be talking smack," said Barton. "I had to talk some smack back at all the BYU guys even when Utah lost. It was a lot of fun."

Now that he's being recruited by both schools, Barton can't talk BYU smack any longer.

"Yeah, well, I've lost the will to talk smack too much about BYU," he said. "I actually went down to the BYU-Utah game down in Provo this past year and that was as good as it gets. It was awesome even though things didn't turn out quite so good for them, but I had an awesome experience being down there at BYU."

Barton has also been down to BYU's campus a few times since then.

"It's awesome and really cool," he said. "I've been down to BYU a lot actually, and it's great down there and I like it a lot. I'm definitely looking more about this as far as what's best for me and not thinking about the Utes because I grew up a Utah fan. That hasn't really helped me one way or another because the scholarship is a big part.

"I think my family would be okay with helping to pay my way through college, but football ends and you're not going to play forever, so you'll need a good education. You have to look at what place has the best to offer and what's best for me."

So as Barton goes through the evaluation process, what is it that he's looking for?

"I'm looking at kind of what their program is all about, and church is a big thing for me too, so I want to make sure there just isn't a single ward around but a strong church presence around the school," Barton said. "Also, what they talk about with the missionaries and their attitude about that. That's basically what I'm looking for right now."

In evaluating BYU, Barton learned a lot that might have been obscured due to the circles of fandom he associated with.

"BYU is actually a great school," he said. "Growing up, you know, my friends that are Utah fans would say that stupid people go to BYU. But it's the complete opposite. I know people that are really smart that try to get into BYU and they can't. Only the smartest people get in there,j so they have a great education.

"Then when I'm down there, the Church presence is obviously huge there and I think that's pretty cool. I don't know what else to say other than those two things really sticking out."

He also learned that the coaches at BYU don't fit the stereotypical view from a rival's eyes either.

"I'm being recruited by Coach Poppinga and Coach Howell," Barton said. "They are, well, I don't really know how to explain it. They are great guys. At some colleges, you come in and are kind of in a line and come through, then someone else just comes in and takes your spot.

"The coaches don't really care too much about individuals because their next guy is coming in, and so on and so on. Definitely Coach Howell and Coach Poppinga look out for and care about their guys in a different way. You're not just another player or number in a line."

Barton first talked to BYU's coaches about a potential offer while he was visiting the school.

"The first time we talked about it was actually one of the first times I went down there," Barton said. "I went down there for a Junior Day last year, and, you know, I was a sophomore last year and there were more juniors going to be seniors there. In the end they pull around six or seven of those juniors out. Then they pulled me out and we talked about it. They didn't offer me then.

"The next time I went down to BYU I talked to them some more. They had been to a couple of my games. I met with Coach Mendenhall during the season and he told me they wanted to make me a Cougar as soon as they could. That's when he offered me a scholarship.

"I was in his office with my dad because my mom wasn't able to come," he continued. "[Mendenhall] talked about the five pillars and the expectations. I was actually really excited because it's just an awesome school, and to know they think I can play there and want me there is a really exciting feeling. They have a really high expectation of their players, so to know they want me there is an exciting feeling."

It's not just about football when it comes to BYU, and Barton currently holds a 3.6 GPA. Although he learned more about the school and environment from Coach Mendenhall, it wasn't the first time he realized what BYU was all about.

"They tell you everything about what they're trying to do. I knew exactly what they were doing and it's kind of cool."

Barton's father also liked what BYU is about.

"He was actually really impressed," Barton said. "A couple of my aunts went to BYU, and so he had them call me and talk to me about it and their experiences at BYU."

Barton's older brother also happens to be best friends with former tight end Matthew Edwards, who is the grandson of LaVell Edwards.

"[Matthew] called me and talked to me too," said Barton. "He talked to me about some of the coaches and what life is about down there. In his last home game he scored his only touchdown in his grandpa's stadium. I've even met LaVell a couple of times and he's a great guy too."

With offers from BYU and Utah, Barton is having fun and taking it all in rather than letting it wear on him emotionally as a tug-of-war.

"I'm taking it all in stride and really enjoying it," he said. "It's given me a lot of opportunities and I'm obviously very blessed to have these opportunities. I'm just soaking everything in, knowing I'll only have this experience once. It's really cool."

Barton will spend some time before choosing which school to attend.

"I'm hoping to make my decision before the football season starts," Barton said. "I would say late summer probably."

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