Illini Offer Lone Star LT

Illinois coaches have been looking for guys who can make an instant impact, and one player they've targeted is Dallas Skyline OT Ty Barrett.

Tyus Barrett (who goes by "Ty") is the anchor of the offensive line at Texas High School powerhouse Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas. At 6'4" and just over 300 pounds, he's a mountain of a player, but at his size he still moves very well. So it's no wonder that several of schools have offered him already. And prior to Wednesday evening, the count was 19.

"I've gotten a few offers during the spring," Barrett said. "I have a couple that I've had for a while. It was the local schools first like TCU, Texas Tech, and Baylor, and then I started getting more."

Wednesday night, Illinois became offer number 20 for the bookend tackle when Illinois offensive line coach A.J. Ricker extended an offer to Barrett. Barrett can relate to Ricker, who is originally from Klein, Texas himself.

"I like the coach that's been recruiting me," he said. "We've had good conversations. We talked a little about the school, but he also helped me a lot with the process too in general. It was Coach Ricker. I like him. He was straightforward with me and wants to keep an open line and that they're going to keep after me until the end."

Playing at Skyline, Barrett is surrounded by talent every year. Last year especially, Barrett had the task of blocking for Elite 11 Finalist and Ole Miss signee Devante Kincade. For Barrett, it's motivation to be the best, not only for the guys that have gone before, but also to set the example for the younger guys.

"It really was a motivator," he said. "My freshman year, we had probably 20 kids go Division One. You want to be the next person in that line. You play against great talent every day. There's guys out there that are younger than me that have big offers. We all push each other to work harder every day."

But with all the talent that moves with every graduating class, it's not an easy task to reload and stay at the same level of success every year. With hard work and great coaching, Barrett says the system at Skyline prepares them well.

"It's always a reloading process," he said. "We've been fortunate enough to always have good players. Our freshman team goes undefeated and our JV teams almost always go undefeated. We just want to get our guys in the system and get to work. Usually guys are ready by the time they get to the varsity level. We want to find our identity first and then focus on a state championship. We lost Devante Kincade and Rashaad Samples, so it'll be tough, but we have good talent and that helps."

Barrett is big on the team and doesn't like to play himself up too much, but he says he's been working hard in the offseason to transform his body and improve his technique.

"I want to get better at everything," Barrett said. "I'm a big team person, so really I want the team to get better. Really my whole game has gotten better. I feel more comfortable with my weight. I was always around 295. Right now I'm just over 300 and I feel a lot better about my weightlifting. I'm adding strength and developing my kickstep a lot over the last couple months. I'm ready to get out there this spring."

Unlike a lot of states, Texas High Schools have a spring football session where teams practice and scrimmage. This extra time spent not only with the returning players, but with the up-and-coming younger players is extremely beneficial according to Barrett.

"We have spring football. Our first practice is in a week," he said. "It helps a lot having the practice because even though you play against each other and hit each other every day, you're getting better, and it's really helpful for the freshmen and the sophomores to help them learn the offense and the defense a lot."

But during the offseason, Barrett has spent some time assessing his recruiting situation. And according to him, academics will play a large role in his eventual decision.

"Really I'm looking at academics and the whole package," he said. "I'm taking both the good and the bad and making all the pros and the cons. Academics matters a whole lot to me. It's not all about playing football. I won't be playing forever, so I want to make the right decision and pick the right degree. I'm thinking either Accounting, Sports Medicine, or Sports Management."

Most of Barrett's visits to this point have been to schools in the area, but he hopes to use the additional free time that comes with the summer to make a few of the longer trips.

"I've taken a few visits," he said. "I went to Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, and that was it for the spring. Really this summer I'm not sure yet. I'll probably visit Ole Miss and a few more. I'm not sure right now yet. I want to take the trips that are further away this summer."

A commitment isn't going to come in the very near future, but if the situation feels right and Barrett finds that a school fits him best, he feels he could be ready to make the call.

"I was thinking about doing it before the season so my senior season could be stress-free," he said, "but I'm not sure if I'm going to be ready by then. I have a lot of time to think about it. But when I feel like I'm ready for it to be over, that's when I'll decide."

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