While some players as young as Barclay, a redshirt sophomore, would shy away from a leadership role, the Seneca Valley, Pa., native is embracing it.
"(I'm) trying to bring the offensive line together as one unit, "said Barclay. "We have a lot of young guys. I'm young too. (Jeff) Braun's a redshirted freshman and (Joe) Madsen is a redshirted freshman. Josh (Jenkins) is a sophomore. I think the biggest thing is getting them into the flow of it and getting the offensive line to gel."
The offensive line has made improvements over the last week of spring drills after being the subject of a good deal of criticism over the first couple of practices. Barclay used those comments as inspiration for improvement.
"From my standpoint, I take it personally," admitted Barclay. "I try to get the other guys going. It makes me work harder. So I try to get these guys going more as well as myself."
Although the criticism hits close to home, Barclay knows that it was justified. And he's not resting on the recent improvement that he and his teammates have shown.
"Coach Johnson does a really job of explaining his way of doing things, his technique and we need to learn how to do it his way," said Barclay. "If we can learn to do it his way by the end of spring we will be good."
Barclay isn't totally new to the job up front, of course. He has experience working with players like two-time all-American Ryan Stanchek and Greg Isdaner, both of whom are working for a spot in the NFL Draft this spring, and he participated in 260 plays as a redshirt freshman. He is now poised to become a starter, with the potential to be a three-year anchor at tackle, but it's still something of a rarity to find a sophomore set for such a leadership role. He credits Stanchek and Isdaner for passing on some of their offensive knowledge and helping him prepare to be the teachers that they were.
"Those guys took me under their wing," Barclay explained. "They showed me the way and showed me how stuff was done around here. (Stanchek) pretty much took me on his back and helped me out."
Barclay took his experience from last year combined it with the advice of his departed teammates, and prepared rigorously for spring practice. He hit the weight room with the other members of the line, and has been working on his technique at the tackle spot.
"I got into the weight room with (strength coach) Mike Joseph and his whole staff and just put in hard work," said Barclay. I came in and did extra work; watched film. I would come in on Saturdays and do some extra work. We even did yoga on Saturdays. I think doing extra work and putting in time in the film room and staying in the weight room helped."
While still a relative youngster, Barclay will be looked upon heavily for leadership on the inexperienced offensive line. He is being counted on to anchor the group, along with Selvish Capers at the opposite tackle, and is being thrust into the role that Stanchek took with him in past years. His success with that task will be a big factor in determining the success of West Virginia's offense in 2009.