When Mohamed Barry got his Blackshirt, senior linebacker Chris Weber wasn’t surprised.
“Another guy that has worked his tail off since he's been here, done everything the right way and worked hard,” Weber said. “It's a perfect example of when you work hard good things are going to happen.”
When Nebraska handed out its Blackshirts to the defense on Monday, Barry was one of 16 recipients. That might seem like a high number but the defense has a number of guys that are going to be impactful, even if they’re not starters, Weber said. Barry happens to be one of those guys.
Tuesday morning, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley called Barry a “three-for-two” player, a guy who’s technically behind Weber and junior Dedrick Young on the depth chart, but will still have a sizeable role in the unit. Trent Bray, Barry’s position coach, said something of the same.
“We gave it to guys we thought have, over the time coach [Bob] Diaco has been here and we’ve been running this defense over spring and fall, shown that they can play winning football for us,” he said.
“He’s a high motor, high-collision guy that flies around and makes plays,” Bray said. “He’s earned the right to be on the field and he’s going to play for us and help us win.”
Barry will still put in work on the kickoff unit this season, a place he saw the bulk of his playing time at last year, but figures to see as many snaps as he can handle on defense. He said coming in as a freshman last season, he had to learn patience. “I came in a confident player,” he said, but had to figure out that things take time. His mom was in his ear, telling him to wait his turn. His old trainer from his Georgia days, former Nebraska linebacker Eric Johnson, was in his corner.
As for Bray, he was sending Barry texts.
“On my low days, he’d send me quotes on my phone,” Barry said. “He knows I love Michael Jordan and he would send me quotes that would help me be patient and keep on going every day.”
Bray said that Barry’s game just continues to get better each day. Now that he’s sporting a black jersey in practice, Barry knows he needs to keep going.
“It’s something to get it, but now it’s what you do with it,” he said. “[The Blackshirts] have been here since way before me. It’s up to me to live it up. The players in the past, they put their max effort, they showcased Nebraska, they put the defense No. 1 in the nation and all that. I have a duty to fulfill to put it back.”
Barry also said he isn’t too worried about his role. “If that’s how they see me, that’s great,” he said when asked about Riley’s “three-for-two” comment.
“I know when I’m on that field, I’m gonna give it my all and I’m gonna give max effort.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.