Oct. 19, 2013
The final season of a student-athlete's career typically can be bittersweet. However, rather than dwell on the end of an experience, redshirt senior C.J. Barnett is focusing on finishing his Buckeye career on a high note.
"It's my last opportunity to play for Ohio State and wear the scarlet and gray," the Dayton, Ohio, native said. "I have a lot of pride in that. I don't want to let anybody down."
In five seemingly short years, Barnett has grown from a freshman special teams player to a respected defensive back. While several factors definitely have contributed to Barnett's on-the-field evolution, the All-Big Ten honoree credits former Buckeye All-Big Ten recipient Kurt Coleman as his biggest influence. Both safeties graduated from Northmont High School and shared a similar career path as student-athletes.
"He came here and started quickly and I came here and started quickly," Barnett said. "He had a great career here and I'm trying to do the same thing. He is a great example of how to be a Buckeye."
Like Coleman, Barnett was named team captain and has taken his leadership role seriously as he has totaled 170 tackles and 13 passes defended so far in his collegiate career. He credits his leadership role as a driving force behind his performance.
"I have an opportunity to lead the team and the whole team has confidence in me," Barnett said. "It gives me more incentive to be a good leader and to work harder."
It was not long after being named team captain Barnett was forced to practice what he preached. A lower body injury prevented him from playing in the Buckeyes' season opener vs. Buffalo Aug. 31. Despite the setback, Barnett proved his resilience and rallied for a season-high five solo tackles -seven total-vs. San Diego State the following week.
As for following Coleman, who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, to the National Football League, Barnett kept his ambitions to himself. Although he is a projected third or fourth round pick, Barnett is focused on his remaining season at Ohio State.
"After the season, it is just whatever happens," Barnett said. "I'm not really looking that far ahead. I want to continue making plays for the Buckeyes and lead the team in the right direction."
With a 6-0 record, Ohio State certainly is on what some would call an upward slope and that fits perfectly in line with Barnett's ambitions of obtaining Big Ten and national prominence. A Buckeye tradition that many would agree never gets old.
By Sammi Ragsdale, Athletics Communications
Scarlet & Gray Super Sunday