College Park - At 7:30 in the morning Barrod Heggs was double timing it. Not to the showers or the dining hall. He's been there and done that. When he answered his cell phone the Maryland Terrapins redshirt freshman was streaking to study hall.
"Can't talk now man," Barrod huffed. "Let me get back to you later today, I have things to take care of."
That was an understatement. Usually summer meant down time but not for this Groves High graduate. It was just the first part of his normal summer day which has almost every minute accounted for. At 8 am he has study hall, from 9-11 he's hitting the weights. After a short break for lunch it's back to the field by noon for more lineman drills and work on technique. At 1 he starts a 3 hour block of classes wrapping his day up just after 4 pm.
"It's rough sometimes," Barrod said. "But you have to do what it takes."
Barrod was never one to shy away from doing what it took. He worked hard on the field and finished his senior season with 67 tackles, 5 and half sacks and was named Region 3 AAAAA co-defensive player of the year. The focus now however isn't on football. He readily admits he has had to double down and really focus on studying. The jump from high school to college level courses is problematic at best for most incoming freshman much less those that have to worry about getting down the nuances of the 4-3 defense.
"Let your grades slip just a little bit and they will put you out man," said Barrod. "It doesn't matter who you are. If you fall below the 2.0 mark you are gone and that is it."
When Barrod hit camp last year he was in the mix from the start, fighting with upper classmen for playing time. Getting pounded on day in and day out took a toll. It was a new experience for him. There weren't too many people in this area that could push him around. After the Terps first game, all the bruises seemed to fade away.
"We played Navy at the Ravens Stadium (M&T Bank Stadium) in Baltimore and it was like yeah, now this is it," Barrod said. "It's everything a kid dreams about growing up playing football in Garden City."
Playing in front of a crowd of 70 thousand people along with the pageantry of the Naval Academy marching into the stadium definitely made a lasting impression. The win didn't hurt too much either.
"I was asking my self is this real, am I dreaming," he said. "My next thought was, just don't wake me up if it is."
His first taste of college football got the adrenaline flowing but unfortunately he would have to wait to use it. Barrod traveled with the team for 9 of the 11 games scheduled but did not make it on to the field. For a guy that lettered and started in not 1 but 3 sports watching it all go by was tough. After the 7th game Head Coach Ralph Friedgen told Barrod he was going to redshirt him thus nullifying his chance of seeing any playing time the rest of the year.
"It makes you really respect the game when you have to sit out," Barrod said. "I hated it but understand how much more it means to you and the guys out there. They put their all into it and when they get on to the field it makes it that much sweeter."
He did not recognize it then but being told to sit out did have its advantages. He has 4 more years of college football and did not waste a year playing for a team that went 5-6. With a year in the weight room he's put on 20 pounds of muscle bulking up to 265 lbs. After being in the defense for a year he has a better understanding of the scheme and an edge in the race to become a starter this season.
"I am bigger, stronger and this is the year," remarked Barrod. "I have a better feel for camp and know exactly what I need to do to take care of business."
As much as he has grown up and changed some things never will. When asked about what he was looking forward to the most this year he replied with a date, October, 7th. I already knew it was the day before his birthday and figured it was a party of some sort. Not quite.
As I sat wondering he broke the silence with, "Georgia Tech, Tony Clark. I left 35 tickets for that one and that is all I am going to say."
As usual Barrod, you have said it all.