Ohio State offensive lineman Kirk Barton has been gaining valuable experience this week in Mobile, Alabama during the Under Armour Senior Bowl week. But he's also realized the great opportunity it's provided him to get to know some of the other top senior offensive linemen from around the country.
"It's been an exciting week," he said during an exclusive interview this week. "We bonded as an offensive line — between (USC's) Sam Baker and big Gosder (Cherilus of Boston College) and those guys.
"It's been a lot of fun to play with those guys. It's been a competitive week, and it's something I've definitely enjoyed."
The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Buckeye then took a moment to share his take on the talented pair of linemen.
"Sam's going to be a great left tackle," he said. "I mean, his pass sets are perfect every time.
"He's a good kid. Just talking to him, you can tell he's humble, and he's a funny guy to be around.
"Gosder's just a mammoth," Barton said. "He's like 6 foot 7, he has 11-inch hands ... He's a physical freak."
Barton also described what the week's been like for him while he's been preparing to play in the Senior Bowl game at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Saturday.
"Adjusting to the new offense was hard for the first day, but I've got it pretty cold now," he said. "It's just hard because you have to bring it on every snap, because you're going against the top players in the country. You really have to be on your toes and ready to move."
Speaking of adjustments, Barton has recently begun a major adjustment to expand his opportunities at the pro level. He's been learning how to play the guard position.
Kirk Barton celebrates with WR Brian Robiskie after a score.
AP Photo/Terry Gilliam
"I figure that can only help my value," he said. "I've actually already started working at it. I haven't done any of it down here this week because I felt better at tackle, but by the Combine and especially by minicamp, I feel I'll be ready to play guard."
Barton's been working with the university's strength and conditioning staff, under the guidance of Eric Lichter, who trained athletes for the Scouting Combine prior to accepting his current position as strength coach at Ohio State. After four years as a starter at offensive tackle for the Buckeyes, Barton understands what's involved in making the transition to the interior line.
"It's just different because everything happens quicker," he said. "Guys aren't on your edge as much, they're just right in front of you. So you just have to be ready to work in a hurry and work with your center and your tackle."
As NFL teams evaluate him for a job, the All-American hopes that they'll take note of a very important aspect of his football career.
"First and foremost, I've played a lot of football, so I've been through battles," he said. "I've played through pain, I've been pretty durable. I started 41 games, so that proves a little bit of durability.
"I just work hard and try to improve every year."
While he was obviously looking forward to his NFL career as he spoke, the former leader of the Buckeye's offensive line also took a moment to look back in appreciation of the college career that helped bring him to this important point in his life. And he had a message for the Ohio State fans.
"We appreciate your support," he said. "And be excited about this year's team, because they have outstanding leadership coming back. And they're hoping for a special season."