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South grad Barrett living 'Rudy' dream at Ga. Tech

October 05, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

On a normal day, Tyler Barrett's life is out of this world, as he explores the boundaries of time and space as an aerospace engineering major at Georgia Tech.

But nothing brings Barrett down to earth faster than playing football, which led the 2005 South Hagerstown High School graduate to try and make the Yellow Jackets as a walk-on.

"I don't know what I would do without football," Barrett said via telephone from Atlanta. "Some people look at it and say after they are done with high school football, it's time to move on, and they have other things to do. I just love to strap it up and play every day."

In essence, Barrett is living the "Rudy" dream, similar to the movie role Sean Astin played in the story of Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger, who gave his all to walk on and play for Notre Dame.

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Barrett didn't have the burning desire to play for Georgia Tech, which faces Maryland on Saturday at noon at Byrd Stadium. He just had the burning desire to play.

Barrett was a receiver and a safety for the Rebels under coach Greg Kellick and earned honorable mention honors on the All-Washington County team. When he graduated, there were no scholarships waiting at his door, but he still wanted to play.

The life of a walk-on isn't glamorous. Many times, they serve as tackling dummies on the scout teams.

"I'm not playing right now," he said. "I have to keep working on getting bigger and faster. If I can do that, maybe I can get in on the special teams and get to where I might be able to play some in the secondary my senior year."

As time goes by, it all gets more challenging for Barrett, though. He is taking classes in his field of study and the tests are getting more difficult. Making grades is doubly important to stay on track for graduation and stay eligible to play football.

That means juggling school and football while staying motivated, even though Barrett knows he's not going to play. The slim chance that he might get on the field is all he needs, though.

"Sometimes I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to lift weights after studying for four hours the night before, and I wonder what I'm doing this for," Barrett said. "It's hard, but I have to be patient. I've had to learn that. I know my time will come."

Barrett got a glimpse of where it all could lead during Georgia Tech's 69-14 win over Samford on Sept. 8. Near the end of the game, he got his chance to take the field.

"I got the chance to play for 12 plays," he said. "They told me after a touchdown that I was going in. I just stood there for three minutes - after the score and during the timeout before the kickoff - bouncing up and down. It was like playing in the North-South game. ... It is the only thing I can compare it to. My heart was beating and I was nervous."

Barrett played in the secondary and got in on one tackle, but didn't get any credit for the hit.

"The guy keeping the scorebook in the press box and I didn't see it the same way," Barrett said. "By the time I got on the field, there might have been only 20,000 people left in the stands. They all started leaving after the last touchdown. Still, all I could think was, 'Oh my God, this is amazing.'"

Barrett admits he has a special place for the Maryland game as it approaches, even though he likely will not travel north for the game.

"I remember watching Maryland on TV when I was growing up and my parents had season tickets," he said. "It would be awesome to be able to play. It would be amazing just to be on the sidelines for the game. It would be like a dream."

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