GRIDIRON FEATURE: Barnett’s upbringing shapes success


Photo: Jake Lovett/Iowa State Daily

ISU quarterback Jared Barnett moves up in the pocket to pass during the fourth quarter of Iowa State’s 52-17 loss to Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Columbia, Mo. Barnett, the backup to quarterback Steele Jantz, played the fourth quarter for the ISU offense and ammassed 25 yards passing on three completions and also rushed for 24 yards on four attempts.

Jake Calhoun

Jared Barnett has made the most of his opportunities as a redshirt freshman quarterback on the ISU football team.

The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Garland, Texas, led Iowa State (4-4, 1-4 Big 12) to its first conference win of the season Saturday in a 41-7 upset of then-No. 19 Texas Tech in his first-ever start as an ISU quarterback.

Through his budding success as the new starting quarterback for the Cyclones, Barnett is quick to point out that the influence of his father, Duke, has been instrumental in shaping who he is today.

“He really keeps me humble,” Barnett said of his father. “He knows that some people around me are trying to hype me up and that’s good, but then again that’s not what he wants me to be and he just wants to keep me level-headed and keep me humble.”

Duke has been coaching Jared since he first picked up a football at the age of 4, stressing the proper mechanics — anywhere from movement of the feet to eye shifting while making reads at the line of scrimmage — required to flourish at the quarterback position.

“[Jared’s] family relationship is fantastic,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “His dad is very even-keeled. That upbringing, that guidance, that relationship is very strong and certainly is supportive to his success.”

After shaking off the trauma that resulted from throwing an interception in his first collegiate pass attempt in the fourth quarter of a 52-17 loss to Missouri on Oct. 15, Barnett has successfully led the ISU offense down the field for scores on multiple drives since.

Lauded for his poise, Barnett has been able to resurrect an ISU offense that had been averaging 20.3 points per game in regulation.

“Even at a young age, he really worked hard to have good technique in his footwork and his motion in throwing the football,” Duke said of Jared. “He got so good at that, he really didn’t have trouble trusting what he could do.

“He’s never had a time when he’s just been rattled because he knows what he can do, he trusts in his abilities, he trusts in his work ethic because he trusts in everything he’s learned through his upbringing.”

Rhoads said one of Barnett’s best attributes is that he meticulously studies opposing defenses — even during weeks in which he didn’t play. This, of course, can be attributed to his father’s influence as well.

“The most important thing in playing an opponent is knowing where their weaknesses are,” Duke said. “I tell him all the time, ‘You’ll never be successful as a quarterback if you don’t study and understand what an opposing team is going to try to do to you.'”

Jared’s knowledge of the defense partly stems from to having had to play safety in rotation with Adrian Phillips — who now plays defensive back at Texas — opposite quarterback during his freshman year of high school.

“I told him I thought it’d be good for him because being back there, it would have him get an understanding of what defensive backs looked for in a quarterback — looking at their eyes and looking at how they take the drops and things like that and try to get a read on what they’re doing with the play,” Duke said. “That’s where he learned the importance of looking at [opposing defenses].”

Coming out of high school, Jared led the initiative in being recruited by Division I schools for football.

Duke said Jared’s first choice was to play at Texas Tech under then-coach Mike Leach, who recruited him but never gave him an official offer.

Jared was offered by four Division I schools — Houston, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State — to play quarterback. After making a trip to Ames and meeting with Rhoads, Duke said Jared was instantly sold on wanting to come to Iowa State.

“After we spent time with the [ISU] coaching staff, he picked up the phone and called his mom and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to commit here,'” Duke said. “His mom said, ‘No no no, you’ve got to make all your visits and everything,’ and he said, ‘Mom, I love it here. I love Ames, I love this campus, I love this coaching staff, I want to commit here.'”

Jared officially committed shortly afterward in May 2010.

Duke and his wife, Laura, were in attendance to watch their son become only the fifth quarterback in ISU history to lead their team to victory in their first-ever start, making the moment more sentimental for both of them.

However, Duke made sure to remind Jared of what he felt was most important following the win.

“I told him before he got on the bus from Lubbock, ‘You get on this bus, head back to Ames and you enjoy this win with your football team,’ but when you hit practice on Sunday, it’s all about KU,” Duke said. “That’s the perspective I want him to have on it.”