Mohamed Barry never doubted he would be living in Lincoln by this summer, so he wasn’t about to go bouncing off the walls Thursday when he received a certificate of admittance from the University of Nebraska.
“The feeling like that is going to be when I actually arrive at Nebraska,” he said.
Soon. Very soon. He plans to get here in 14-17 days, after putting the final touches on a short stories class he had to pass to clear his final academic hurdle.
Anxious. He uses that word. Hungry. He uses that word, too.
Bored. He doesn’t use that word. He hasn't been sitting still.
While almost all his peers from the 2015 recruiting class are already in Lincoln going through summer workouts, the linebacker has been conducting his own grind at the Georgia Sports Performance Center under the guidance of trainer, former Husker and NFL player Eric Johnson.
Most days, Barry works out twice a day. First session around 11 in the morning. Another around 5 at night.
“They’ve been getting me right,” Barry said. “I feel well-prepared. I trimmed down a lot. I’m at 203 (pounds) now, but I’m running at 4.4, 4.5 (second) speed. My reaction has improved tremendously. I can’t wait to put it all together on the field.”
He wants to get to 215 pounds by fall, but he likes where he's at now. Not all 203 pounds are created equally.
“I didn’t want to put on fat weight, I wanted to lose every ounce of fat in me. I wanted to be like an Adrian Peterson-type of 220-225. It’s that compact weight that allows me to be extremely athletic but still weigh a lot. That’s why I trimmed down a lot of fat. Now I’m just ready.”
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The thing about training with Johnson: He’ll strengthen your strengths, Barry said, but he’ll also attack your weaknesses until they don’t seem like weaknesses anymore.
And inspiration? Barry feels he can supply that himself.
“One thing you need to know about me, and E.J. knows, too, nobody will ever need to drive me,” Barry said. “I’m more of a self-motivated person. I know I value people’s time, and he’s training me, he’s giving me time, and I know where I need to be, and he knows where we’re trying to be. We’ve got that mindset where we’re training, everything is just moving and intense.”
Considered one of the biggest recruiting scores by Mike Riley’s staff in the final weeks before Signing Day, having picked Nebraska over Miami and Kansas State, Barry plans to start his career at WILL linebacker.
It’s a position he believes suits him just right.
“You look at players like Shaq Thompson (the No. 25 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by Carolina) and Su’A Cravens from USC, it’s just where I fit in,” Barry said. “I’m a very athletic linebacker, and that’s where the money is going to be for me, making those kind of plays on the second level. I think it’s going to be good for me, because in my defense, I play the same kind of linebacker they have at the WILL position at Nebraska.”
His planned arrival comes when the Huskers will likely need to play at least a couple of true freshman linebackers, with the urgency only increasing with the recent news that senior-to-be David Santos won’t be on the roster this fall.
Among the newcomers, Dedrick Young has a jump on the competition, having enrolled early and participated in spring ball. But game reps are there to be earned for summer arrivals such as Barry, Tyrin Ferguson, Adrienne Talan and Antonio Reed. That opportunity was made very clear to Barry by linebackers coach Trent Bray throughout the recruiting process.
“It is wide open, very wide open. It’s a blessing,” Barry said. “Coach Bray from Day 1 told me that. I feel like it’s time to just stop talking. … It’s time to show on the field. I just know what I can bring to the table. It’s all on me. Unless I get injured, God forbid, I just feel like I’m going to make an immediate impact and make plays.”