After spending his freshman year at Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School, Barrett played three years at Thompson High in Alabaster, Ala., where he eventually drew the interest of Colorado coaches.
Barrett was initially going to be part of the 2003 recruiting class, but was asked to grayshirt and delay his enrollment until January 2004. He moved to Boulder in the summer of 2003, however, took an office job in Longmont and became a regular at the Dal Ward weightroom.
When Barrett first came to Boulder, he weighed 215 pounds. Right now he's playing at 240 pounds.
"I'm bigger, faster, stronger," Barrett said after Wednesday's practice. "(Strength coach Greg) Finnegan has a good program. Eating and lifting and doing everything they asked me to do has worked out for me."
And worked out faster than coaches expected. After DE Chadd Evans left the team in August, Barrett was moved to the rush end position behind junior James Garee. But defensive line coach Chris Wilson didn't expect the kind of productive performance Barrett had last Saturday vs. North Texas, just three games into Barrett's true freshman year.
"I was extremely excited watching him," Wilson said. "It was like a coming out party for him — to see him make some plays and see him do some things we always thought he could do. It was fun."
Barrett had a sack, a tackle for loss and a near safety in limited play against the Mean Green. He looked like the quickest defensive lineman on the field whenever he was in the game.
"I just did what Coach told me to do, I was just reading my keys and going 100 percent all the time," Barrett said about the game.
Wilson said he's been pleasantly surprised by Barrett's emergence.
"With Alonzo being out for a year with the grayshirt, it was interesting to see his progress," Wilson said. "One thing, he has a lot of pride and a lot of ability. You put those two together and it wasn't really about me or what I wanted, it was about him. He had a good camp. I had expectations for him, but his were a lot higher than mine."
And Wilson thinks Barrett will be bigger than his current 240 pounds by the time all is said and done.
"He's young. Like all of us, as we get older we get bigger," Wilson said. "If he can maintain the work ethic he has, he'll get bigger just naturally. He's fundamentally sound. It's not a strength contest, it's about who plays the best technique. And that's what he's learning how to do."
How much playing time Barrett receives as the conference season begins next week remains to be seen. He was kept out of the game at Washington State because it was close, and Wilson opted for more experienced players. But his effort vs. UNT may give Wilson the confidence to play him more and more.
Either way, Wilson said Barrett's in a good situation to grow as a football player.
"He gets the best of both worlds," Wilson said. "He gets to learn from older guys who've played quite a bit. He's got some responsibility, but he doesn't have to be THE guy. He's in the right situation right now."
Buffs Lose Family Member
The Colorado football family was shocked and saddened Wednesday by the news that former Buff Gabe Oderberg had taken his own life. Word of Oderberg's death began circulating among the members of the football program early Wednesday afternoon. Coaches and some players hurried away at the conclusion of Wednesday's practice, around 6:15 p.m., in order to be with the Oderberg family in Denver.
Oderberg came to Colorado on scholarship from Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School as part of Gary Barnett's first recruiting class in 1999. After redshirting in 1999, he played in 11 games as a redshirt-freshman in 2000. But a back injury in the season opener in 2001 kept him out the rest of that season.
The back injury became a nagging problem, and he had surgery in January 2002. He never recovered enough from the back issue to play after the 2001 season. Still Oderberg was a consistent presence at the Dal Ward Center and at CU practices over the past two years.
Funeral arrangements are unknown at the present time.