Barry Focused on the Future

CLEMSON - One conversation with tight end Durrell Barry, and it's easy to see he's focused on one thing- his future at Clemson University.

The statistics don't reveal much at all: two catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.

But those were numbers posted by Durrell Barry last season.

Barry, who came to Clemson from Ft. Dorchester High School, was expected to be much more of an impact player during his first two years. After all, during his senior season he caught 66 passes for 1,126 yards and 11 touchdowns playing as a wide receiver.

But for whatever reason, at Clemson, he has yet to show the consistency needed to come close to that kind of production.

Maybe it was the transition from high school to Fork Union Military, where he played quarterback for a season, that hindered his development.

Maybe it was something else.

Whatever it was, the good news is now the 6-4, 250 pound redshirt sophomore, who is widely considered to be the most talented tight end on Clemson's roster, still has his best days ahead of him. And despite the fact he's still second on the depth chart behind sophomore Michael Palmer, he has a firm grasp on what he needs to do to see the field more in 2007.

"I'll be honest, last year it just seemed like I had a lot going on," Barry said. "Both on and off the field. But things are definitely coming together for me. And I owe it all to my position coach. Coach Napier has really made a difference for me in every way possible. If you want to know the big reason why I'm improving, it's because of him."

Perhaps it also helped in the bowl game when Barry caught a 32-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. For the first time in his career, Barry showed the skills that led many to believe the tight end position could actually become an offensive weapon at Clemson.

Or maybe it was during the offseason, when he re-dedicated himself in the weight room.

"I do feel like I've stepped up a lot since last season," he said. "Making sure I'm healthy and in the kind of shape I need to be in is obviously a big part of that. I've been working harder off the field, really trying to make sure I'm in the best possible position to see the field."

Despite the fact Barry discovered he had a bulging disc in his lower back in April, which forced him to miss most of spring ball, other players on the team have taken notice of his offseason improvement.

"Durrell Barry is one guy that really stands out in my mind as far surprise players go," said wide receiver Aaron Kelly. "I think he's going to surprise some people this year. I really do. He's catching everything thrown his way and you can tell he really wants to get on the field. He's a different player this year."

It also appears he has his lower back issues under control.

"It will still be a little tight sometimes," he said. "But it's a lot better now and that makes all the difference in the world. During the spring it was really bad so I've had to change some things up in my workout and that's made a big difference for me."

The other area of Barry's game that needed to improve was his blocking.

In an offense that will use multiple tight ends, receiving skills are important, but no more important than being able to become a dependable blocker when needed.

In fact this year, Clemson's tight ends could be used more than ever in blocking situations as a new offensive line may need to be given time to develop.

"I wasn't as good as I needed to be when it came to blocking," Barry said. "I know that and I have no problem talking about it. Now I feel like I know the playbook how I need to know it and that's going to make a big difference for me."

So while he is still listed second on the depth chart, behind Michael Palmer, don't be surprised if Durrell Barry starts to make a little noise this year.

Now that he feels healthy and has a good offseason behind him, the sky is the limit.

"I'm looking to the future," he said. "We've got a lot to play for this year and I'm hoping I'm going to be a big part of what we are trying to accomplish."

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