College coaches dream of players like Hansen Barrick of Tuscarora High School (Frederick, Md.). A 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive lineman will garner attention from any college coach looking to improve run and pass blocking.
But while Barrick has always been big (he entered high school at 6-4,
300 pounds), he admits he was not always the strongest.
"At first just my size worked. I wasn't the strongest guy because I
never had to be strong -- people just never messed with me," Barrick
said. "But after 10th grade I knew I had to start working just as
hard as everyone else because they were all getting stronger and I
didn't want them to catch up to me."
Weight restrictions in local youth football prevented Barrick from playing
before he entered high school -- he was a raw talent that coaches
could mold. The Tuscarora staff took its time developing Barrick's skills and
brought him up to varsity for his junior season.
The patience paid off.
"[After my sophomore season] I became more flexible so getting out of my
stance was a lot easier so I was a lot quicker off the ball," Barrick
said. "Just in general, I was more comfortable being on the field."
Tuscarora head coach Dean Swink points out that on many of Tuscarora's
longest running plays, Barrick can be seen out in front downfield making
blocks on defensive backs.
Barrick was rewarded for his improvement in the offseason, when he was named first-team all-area offensive lineman by the Frederick News Post.
This season will be Swink's first as head coach at Tuscarora, and he
plans on running a West Virginia-style spread offense -- a style that
should help showcase Barrick's talent.
"He'll have to operate in space which, I think, will give college scouts
a real good look at his ability because that's what everybody wants,"
Some colleges have already enjoyed what they have seen of Barrick.
East Carolina made the junior an offer in March. Barrick attended James
Madison's one-day camp Sunday, June 7, and has trips planned to
Maryland and Towson this summer.
Swink said Barrick is still improving physically, but the mental side of
the game is where Barrick is looking to making the biggest strides this
"[Barrick] has only played a couple years, so we're trying to get
him to understand that he has the ability to go out and dominate the guy
across from him," Swink said. "He's really worked hard this offseason on
getting the mental part of it down."
"I think the sky's the limit with him. It's a matter of what does he
want to do and what does he believe he can do," Swink said. "If he goes
out there and dominates, then by the end of the year I think you'll be
seeing the type of kid that will be a very dominate player and worthy of
all the accolades he will get."
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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com