Mo Barry set a goal for himself before the season started.
He had team goals, yes. Like everyone else, he wanted to prove Nebraska wasn’t what Nebraska looked like last year. They wanted to win and they thought they could go to Indianapolis. But back in the spring, Barry also said he was going to be the guy for the Blackshirts.
“Every time I go out and play for my teammates, I’ve got to be on fire, this is the love I have for this game and this program,” he said Monday. “So, I just get to the ball as fast as I can and make people right.”
Against Michigan State, Barry recorded eight tackles. In doing so, he bumped his season tackle total to 101, becoming the first Husker to surpass 100 tackles since Zaire Anderson had 103 in 2014. Barry has been everywhere for the Nebraska defense. When a play gets made, he’s seemingly always right in the middle of it.
“It just says that I’m doing my part and giving my all for this team week in, week out. So, that 100-tackle mark means a lot to me,” he said.
Barry also has seven double-digit tackle games this season. Only four other Huskers in program history have done that. He’s the first since Lavonte David did it in 2010, and he was an All-American.
Then there’s the momentum plays. Barry has 14 run stuffs, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks on the year. Nebraska has playmakers on its defense this season but Barry might be the most energetic. His plays feel bigger. When he trucks you or stuffs you on third-and-short, Barry explodes.
You’d think when you hit a milestone like Barry has, you’d get a little conversation going with your position coach. Especially when that position coach is also a guy who did what you just did for this same program. Not only has Barrett Ruud, Barry’s inside backer coach, been in his shoes, Ruud owns the program record for career tackles.
And the two didn’t even talk about it.
“No, we didn’t talk about it yet, we’re just moving on to Iowa right now,” Barry said Monday. “That’s the most important thing, is to win, the most important thing every week.”
The junior from Georgia isn’t a captain and he doesn’t get his name tossed around a ton when people talk about leaders on the team, but there’s no doubt about Barry’s place in that locker room.
“I’m proud of him,” Ruud said. “He works really hard at it. I say this all the time but the best thing about him is he loves football. When you’ve got a lot of guys who love the game and love being around and love doing the stuff you don’t see on TV — the cold tubs, the meetings, the weight room stuff — you start to develop really good habits. Proud of the way he’s handled himself throughout his whole career.”
Remember, this is a guy who woke up and hit the Husker weight room on the team’s off day the week leading up to Bethune-Cookman. “This is my life, I love working out, I love recovering, and I love football,” he said at the time. “There’s no better thing than waking up and doing what you love to do.”
Ruud said that work ethic has always been there, that passion that Barry plays with. What has allowed him to be successful this season is pairing that with reps. He’s learned the defense, he’s gotten as many reps as he can handle and it has opened up his game to be able to just go make plays.
“He puts a lot of effort, time and energy into everything,” Ruud said. “Detailing his job within the defense has continued to get better and better.”
There have been mistakes, but Ruud says he’s got no issue with those when a guy is giving everything Barry gives.
“He’s a guy who’s always volunteering himself to do something for the team,” Ruud said. “He’s probably our No. 1 recruiter, even coaches. He recruits hard for us. He’s always talking to his Georgia guys down there trying to get them up here. He’s one of the first guys to meet recruits when they come on campus.
“He really just does a good job being all in for Nebraska. He takes a lot of pride in it. He loves the state, he loves the team and he does whatever he can for them.”