Connor Barwin, one of numerous members of the Bearcat football team's incoming freshman class who attended last weekend's spring football scrimmage and post-game picnic, is ecstatic to get back on the field and start playing the game he loves.
"I haven't played since the end of my high school season. The game made me really excited to get on the field and start playing again."
For the 6-4 225 prospect at tight end saw that the men on the field at UC were a lot different then the high school kids he had played against for the past four seasons.
"You hear about how much bigger and stronger guys are in college, they are a lot bigger than high school football players," said the native of Hazel Park, Michigan half-jokingly. "I mean, it is not something I worry about though. I think I will fit-in pretty well."
Though the overall size and strength of the players is not something Barwin is overly worried about, the speed of the game is something that he realizes will be the biggest part of his jump from University of Detroit Jesuit High to the playing against the Big East and even competing for playing time at tight end.
"It is a combination of physical and mental speed," said the former all-league basketball player. "The guys are going to be a lot faster on the field but the big thing will be how you read the game. It is not just the Quarterback who has to read the defense, but at my position you have to be able to find holes in the defense and be able to read who to block."
The learning curve Barwin is alluding to is definitely something he's thinking about, as it could make the difference between him sitting and playing.
"I mean, not playing worries me a lot, but I realize that coming-in not everyone can be the all star," said Barwin who will be joined in his class by Kazeem Alli (St. Louis, Mo.) at the tight end position. "But that is one thing that attracted to me to UC, the fact that they are not really deep at my position."
Though the number 17 player in Michigan (Detroit Free Press) has not decided on whether he will come into school early, he feels the rigors of the Jesuit education he received in high school will help make the transition from high school to college student all the more natural for the recipient of Second Honors academically.
"The high school that I went to was pretty academically demanding, so I am not really worried about the academic side of things," said Barwin who is undecided on a major concentration as of yet. "I think the thing I will really miss out on is getting to know the guys. You can work just as hard at home and be ready to go, but getting to know the guys is something I cant do in Michigan - it would make things a little less awkward on the first day of practice if I came in early."
Getting to know the guys on the team will be a crucial part of his growth at UC. With the competition for playing time and a higher spot on the depth chart always present, the realization that the best player is going to be on the field for the Bearcats is something that Barwin has embraced from the start.
"There is probably going to be a guy in front of me for the next two years," said Barwin. "There are going to be some growing pains at first, but eventually it is going to be that the best guy is going to be on the field and hopefully, soon, that will be me."
Hopefully the Bearcats new mild-mannered Barwin, the anti-Jeremy Shockey, will be able to display his toughness and desire to win in front of all the Bearcat fans soon enough.