TAMPA, Fla. — For Auburn recruit Devan Barrett, taking every precaution to stay healthy is nothing new.
“Ever since I was in little league my dad’s always just told me to take care of my body and all the little nicks you have after games,” Barrett told SEC Country during a visit this week. “You have to make sure you ice it down or get some Icy Hot, stuff like that. I’m focused on protecting myself.”
Barrett, a 4-star running back out of Tampa Catholic High School, was reminded of his dad’s warnings as he watched his soon-to-be Auburn teammates in 2016.
Yet Barrett was not intimidated by the struggles Auburn’s top rushers endured during a difficult season. In many ways, it helped his transition to college football. Barrett believes he has an edge after seeing what can happen during a grueling SEC West schedule.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Barrett said. “I mean, people are going to get hit, you just have to brace yourself. I can’t wait to get my body ready.”
Barrett is also eager to see what else he’ll learn from Pettway, Johnson and Auburn’s other running backs when he arrives on campus at the end of May. Their credentials speak for themselves.
“I’m really excited. Pettway’s one of the best running backs in the SEC. He’s for sure up there nationally,” Barrett said. “He’s one of those running backs I can just learn from and hopefully he can kind of guide me through the process of my first year in college.”
Barrett is among members of the Auburn 2017 recruiting class who figure to have an eventful first year in orange and blue.
Pettway and Johnson are locked into the top places on the Tigers running back depth chart. Third is up for grabs, and it has added significance in 2017. Last season showed the Tigers and running backs coach Tim Horton the importance of quality running back depth.
Barrett also saw how injuries can impact a freshman’s season by paying attention to Nate Craig-Myers. The top wide receiver prospect in the 2016 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, Craig-Myers fell victim to nagging injuries. Although he appeared in 11 games, Craig-Myers told media members after the season he played through a broken index finger and a bum hamstring.
‘It’s strictly business’
Former Auburn wideout and Tampa Catholic wide receivers coach Jeris McIntyre has seen Barrett preparing. It’s part of why McIntyre believes Barrett will have an opportunity to step in and contribute.
“You never know. Just depending on how the season goes, backs can go down, he can be in there. Backs can stay healthy and he’s the third guy,” McIntyre said. “You never know, but I think with his competitive edge, it’s going to give him a chance to play. He doesn’t know how much, how little, how quick he’ll pick up the offense and everything, but if he can stay healthy, it’ll be a little different.”
Playing as a freshman is not a foreign concept for Barrett. As a newcomer at Tampa Catholic in 2013, Barrett made an impact.
“He matured a lot over his four years here. He started as a freshman, which not a lot of people get a chance to do,” Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory said. “That speaks to his talent level.”
Gregory then saw what every high school coach wants for their players: progress.
“I’m not sure if he was mature enough to handle a lot of playing time early on, quite frankly, but he grew. And you could tell year by year a difference in his mentality. He continued to grow and it shows in how well he’s played the last couple of years.”
Barrett will take the same mentality with him when he travels to Auburn at the end of May.
“Some people just have that mindset of being that dog. I feel like I have that mindset,” Barrett said. “I have my mind set on going in there and playing. When I get up there it’s strictly business. I’m just focused on making that third position and getting ready to play my freshman year. This is what I’ve dreamed of so hopefully it’ll work out that way.”