He sees the tall, lanky freshman following him, emulating his every move in the weight room, and a couple of thoughts enter his mind.
One, Mohamed Barry allows nobody to outwork him, ever, least of all some 18-year-old who’s been on campus for a mere few weeks.
Two, how awesome and refreshing for Barry, a senior linebacker, that a newcomer on the Nebraska football team dare push him?
“I see this little string bean over there doing extra work, extra weight and stretching with me, listening to every little thing I say, passion and fire in his eyes,” Barry said. “I love seeing that, because it reminds me of myself.”
In fact, he can’t remember a freshman as eager as linebacker Nick Henrich since, well, Barry himself.
“Nick is a listener, definitely,” Barry said. “He reminds me of myself when I came in. Just looking for answers, searching, understanding that the talent is there, but not cocky, and understanding he has a lot to develop to become what he wants to.”
Barry sees similar traits throughout the freshmen who’ve been on campus for winter conditioning, preparing for the first spring practice on Monday. They’re acting like they’re supposed to, he said. A great group of listeners.
“That’s the future of that group, so there has to be somebody like Nick,” Barry said. “It’d be great to have everyone like that.”
That’s why Barry, entering his final season, values his leadership role, especially with the freshmen. He takes pride in his blue-collar approach, careful to note he’s not about fame, but about giving his all on every rep, every snap, every day.
He wants that approach to rub off on everyone, as it clearly is on Henrich.
“You earn your stripes, something that I’m a firm believer in,” Barry said. “If you pay the price and earn your stripes, then it’s your turn to lead and continue that process, because we have to represent the values of the team first – value in hard work, value in commitment and dedication, passion to this game, to this university.
“It’s just something about how I’m wired. Even if something is easy for me, I’ve just always taken the approach of earning more stripes. I never let my talent be a crutch, let it slow me down.”
Barry is a notable player for Husker newcomers to emulate in part because of his attitude and approach, and because of the story of his upbringing, how he became who he is today, as a football player, and a person.
“What you see right now,” Barry said, “isn’t a product of something that was made overnight. It was something that was created, molded.”