Turning the Corner

CLEMSON - In each of the past two off-seasons, much has been made about the improvement of tight end Durrell Barry.

By now the story has been told more times than Steve Spurrier has suggested his team in Columbia is ready to compete for an SEC Championship.

It seems like every year about the time the Tigers begin preseason camp, tight end Durrell Barry surfaces as a player who has undergone a transformation.

For the most part, he has said the right things and even looked the part a time or two, but when push came to shove, it simply didn't happen.

And the stats certainly confirm that very statement.

Last year Barry recorded just one catch for 12 yards in seven games of action. In fact, he saw the field for just 31 snaps the entire season.

By comparison the year before he saw action on 125 total plays and caught the only touchdown by a Clemson tight end during the entire season.

Not bad, but clearly it was a far cry from his senior season at Ft. Dorchester when he caught 66 passes for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Simply put, Barry has always had the talent to be a much more productive player, but it's always been problems with blocking, injuries or off-the-field issues that have prevented him from living up to his potential.

This year, however, truly a new Durrell Barry has surfaced for the Tigers. After beating out Brian Linthicum for the No. 2 tight end spot in the lineup, Barry has seen a dramatic increase in playing time and production.

Through two games, he's caught two passes for 45 yards and has already been on the field for 26 snaps, including 23 last week in the win over The Citadel.

"I feel like I've matured a lot during the offseason and I've worked really hard," he said after Wednesday's practice. "My mentality this offseason was that nobody was going to work harder than me.

"I took it so serious. I tried to be first in everything and just do the little things after the workouts and I changed my diet this summer. I ate right. I slept right. It was different but I had to do it."

Shortly after Clemson's overtime loss to Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A bowl, rumors started to surface Barry was looking to transfer.

After a disappointing season in which his production and playing time went way down from the previous year, Barry said he gave it serious consideration, almost leaving the team.

"I was really close," he said. "I talked with my family and with some other people back home and weighed my options. But there was something that couldn't turn me away from my teammates and being a Clemson Tiger.

"I love being a Tiger and love my teammates here and I made a promise to myself and to the team that I would work hard and be somebody I could depend on.

"I just had to prove to the coaches that I really wanted to be here and that I really wanted to play."

And so far this season, that's exactly what he's what he's been.

In addition, with Linthicum now deciding he wasn't going to continue his career at Clemson after Barry's emergence, the redshirt junior is likely in store for the best season of his career and could easily double his playing time of his first two years combined.

"I feel like when they put me in to catch the ball, that's my niche," he said. "That's my strength so when the ball comes my way I'm going to my best to live up to those expectations."

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