Definition of Tough

Jared Barber has all the number one attribute of a middle linebacker -- toughness -- that's required on the collegiate level. He needed every bit of that to get through a challenging senior campaign.

Barber, who committed to WVU over the summer, had an illness and a knee injury that kept him out of several games and reduced his playing time in others. First, he was hit with a medical issue that caused him to become fatigued quickly, but that problem was diagnosed and corrected early in the season. Then he suffered a slight meniscus tear in his knee, which required an arthroscopic procedure to clean up a ragged bit of cartilage. That kept him out of action for three weeks, but he returned with no ill effects and played in Davie County's last two games of the season.

Barber said his knee is in very good shape now, and he anticipates coming to West Virginia this summer at 100% effectiveness. He plans to use the spring semester to continue working on his strength and speed.

Of course, Barber also closely watched the coaching changes at WVU, and admitted that the shakeup left him with some initial concerns. Coming on the heels of his health issues, it seemed like one thing after another for the North Carolina standout, but he took a measured approach to it all.

"In the very beginning with coaching changes I had a lot of questions, especially with the defensive staff and what the plans there were," said Barber. "I understand they are all staying, along with Coach [Lonnie] Galloway, who recruited me, so that was very big for me. Once I talked with them, and knew that Coach Casteel was saying, I knew that I wasn't going to change anything."

While the NCAA views commitments as being made to a school, and doesn't make any allowances for coaches leaving a program, the reality is that the relationships built between coaches and recruits are a huge factor in a high schooler's college choice. Certainly, the things the school has to offer also plays a role, but it's the interpersonal relationships, the one-on-one communications, that often ranks number one on that list. That was certainly true for Barber, who clearly values the bonds that playing the game brings.

"I was most concerned with the relationship thing," he said, describing the thoughts that first crossed his mind upon hearing of the Mountaineer coaching shakeup. "I had built great relationships with the coaching staff at West Virginia, and I wouldn't want to come in where I didn't know a coach or hadn't talked to them before. That was a big part of it. I am really comfortable with the defensive coaches there, and with Coach Casteel. I am really excited to play for him, and to play in the defense that West Virginia plays."

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