Barton Excited for Senior Season

Kirk Barton was one of four juniors at Ohio State that applied to the NFL for an evaluation of their draft status. Barton was the only one who decided to return for his final season of eligibility. He knows he will be counted on to provide leadership for the 2007 Buckeyes. Bill Greene caught up with Barton to get his thoughts on the NFL and how he feels the team will fare next season.

Ohio State offensive tackle Kirk Barton was one of several Buckeyes that donated their time and signed autographs to help raise money for cancer research at Logan Sports in North Canton. Barton, a starter since the middle of his freshman season, talked about why he has decided to return to Ohio State for his senior year. He was one of four Buckeye juniors who registered to have an NFL evaluation of their draft status. While teammates Ted Ginn, Antonio Pittman and Anthony Gonzalez did decide to forego their final year at Ohio State, Barton will remain. Why?

"First off I love being at Ohio State," he began. "I have a lot left I want to accomplish both on and off the field. I looked into the possibility of leaving but it was the right move to come back. I can solidify my draft status for next year by working on becoming a better player. I can get stronger and get better at technique. I understand the other guys leaving. The skill guys ran really well at the combine. They really had nothing left to prove at Ohio State. I know I can get a lot better."

Barton is counting on the teaching of offensive line coach Jim Bollman to help make him a better player in 2007. He considers Bollman a great offensive line coach.

"Coach Bollman is as good as it gets," Barton noted. "He puts guys in the NFL and when they get there they're ready to succeed. He has players in the Pro Bowl every year. He's very connected to the NFL from coaching there with the Chicago Bears. He's known for being able to teach the proper technique to be successful. His coaching has made me better each year I've been at Ohio State."

Barton, a second team All-Big Ten selection by the media, talked about the Buckeyes disappointing performance against Florida in the championship game.

"After the game I told the media it was the most disappointing day of my life since my father died," he said. "I still feel that way. We had a lot of people counting on us and we played terribly. Part of it was that Florida played their best game and we played our worst. That happens in football once in a while, but it shouldn't have happened in the biggest game of our lives. We need to get to work and make sure that doesn't ever happen at Ohio State again. We're going to be a good team next year. We can get beck to the championship game and do it right this time."

What has Barton so confident about next year's edition of the Buckeyes?

"The loss to Florida will really motivate this group to finish the job next year," he explained. "We still have tons of talent on this team. The defense returns a lot of people who played key roles in 2006. James Laurinaitis is only going to get better and better. Same with Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman and a few others. Offensively, you'll see the coming out party for Chris Wells. He is going to be a superstar. He's only scratched the surface of how good he can be. The quarterback situation is up for grabs between three pretty good players. I'm excited about being a leader among the young offensive linemen. We're going to be pretty good, trust me. We lost two stars in T. J. Downing and Doug Datish, so the three returning guys need to step up their play and show the young guys the right way of doing things."

Barton is also happy with the way his career has progressed so far at Ohio State. Next season will be his fifth year in the program. He spoke of his greatest moments as a Buckeye.

"The best thing about playing here has been being with my teammates," Barton admitted. "They are my best friends in the world. My greatest thrill is just being around the guys. The three Michigan wins are really special and I'll always remember beating Notre Dame. When you play at Ohio State you know there will be a lot of eyes on you. You'll get your share of praise as well as criticism. I just listen to what two people have to say about me. That would be Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman. Those are the people I try to please. If those guys are happy with me then I must be doing something right."

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