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WVU gets big catch in Barrett

December 13, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The most celebrated football player in Martinsburg High School history is moving on.

Record-setting receiver Brandon Barrett won't be moving more than a couple of hours away from home, much to the delight of his teammates, parents and Bulldogs football fans.

Barrett is heading to Morgantown, W.Va., after announcing his intentions to sign to play at West Virginia University, beginning next fall, on Friday in Martinsburg High's media center.

"Finally making the decision is a load off my shoulders," said the soft-spoken Barrett, who is a lock to win more Class AAA all-state honors this weekend and a favorite to win his second straight Kennedy Award Player of the Year honor, which will be announced Dec. 21.

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Barrett, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound wideout/defensive back, had narrowed his choices to West Virginia and Ohio State following campus visits last summer.

He made one visit to Ohio State but admitted he was always leaning toward West Virginia after spending several Saturday gamedays in Morgantown.

"I pretty much decided last week that I wanted to go to West Virginia to play football," Barrett said. "I'll be able to play in-state and that was a major factor, plus their offense is the same basic type of game that we have here."

Martinsburg athletic director Greg Reed called the announcement "a special day at Martinsburg, but also a sad day as we put closure on the career (of Barrett)."

Coach Dave Walker said Barrett's potential is "unlimited."

"The sky is the limit for him," Walker said. "It is tough at the next level, but he has shown over the last four years that he can do anything. He'll be successful."

Barrett's career statistics back Walker's predictions.

Martinsburg compiled a collective 45-7 record as Barrett caught 253 passes for 4,717 yards and a record-setting 74 of the 88 touchdowns he scored in his four-year career.

He used his sub-4.5 40 speed to become extremely dangerous on special teams with a career kickoff-return average of 24.4 yards and a punt-return average of 13.95 yards. He even averaged 36 yards per kick as a punter over three years.

Defensively, Barrett had 21 interceptions and broke up 38 passes, despite having many defenses throwing away from his coverage.

Walker said he talked with Barrett about the future before the season began. They decided to put any decision on the backburners until the season ended, which it finally did last Saturday with a 26-20 loss to Parkersburg South in the Class AAA state championship game.

Brandon's younger brother, Dustin, will be a sophomore and that could lead to some red-eye trips for their parents, Richard Johnson and Roxanne Barrett, with the Friday-Saturday combination.

Please turn to BARRETT, B6

"We feel so wonderful that he is going to be close to home," Roxanne Barrett said. "We never thought this day would come. He always had the talent and he has done some impressive things. And what he has done is also a credit to coach Walker."

Barrett is expected to formally sign his letter of intent during the Feb. 10-15, 2004 signing period.

Barrett said West Virginia quarterbacks coach Bill Stewart was his main contact during the recruiting process, but he had a chance to talk with head coach Rich Rodriguez briefly while in Morgantown.

"My immediate goal is to play as a freshman," said Barrett, who plans to study Human Services.

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