Senior wide receiver DJ Barber was one of the Eastview Lightning’s biggest offensive threats through the first half of the season. He is being recruited as a receiver by many Division II programs, but when his team needed him to…
Senior wide receiver DJ Barber was one of the Eastview Lightning’s biggest offensive threats through the first half of the season. He is being recruited as a receiver by many Division II programs, but when his team needed him to make a change, he didn’t hesitate.
The Lightning started strong but would finish with a 3-6 record.
“Overall, the season was good,” Barber said. “We had a strong bond. We started good – 2-0 – we had a lot of energy. After that, it went downhill a little bit, but it was a good high school experience. I couldn’t ask for a better team or teammates.”
“Our team’s strength was running the ball,” Barber continued. “We had a good running back – Quintcy Suggs. That would make defenses come in, and It would open up opportunities in the passing game.”
The senior felt his season had its ups and downs.
“I think my season went pretty well. I could have done better in a few games, but overall I am happy with my season.”
In the first half of the season, Barber was the team’s primary receiver.
“I usually drew the best corner, or they would push their coverage to my side, so I think I helped open up things for other receivers. I also think I am a good route runner – I worked on that over the summer.”
The coaches felt the 6’2″ 185 senior could help the team by switching sides of the ball.
“I played defense the last three games,” Barber said. “The first game (of the three) I played both ways. I did well that first game, and the coaches felt we needed more help on defense than offense, so they switched me full-time to defense after that.”
“Switching sides of the ball was tough, but getting to learn new things and seeing things from both the offensive and defensive side of the ball it made me a better player,” Barber told northstarfootballnews.com. “I progressed a lot. I played corner mostly, but I played safety against Rosemount, so I could cover Jonathan Mann, who usually lined up in the slot.”
Barber had never played defensive back in his career.
“I was an athlete on the defensive side. It helped that I had that offensive side background first. I knew what the receivers were going to do. I watched film and paid attention to how receivers got off the ball. It came to me pretty well.”
His athletic ability made up for his inexperience.
“The toughest part of the transition was learning the plays and knowing where I was supposed to be on each play,” Barber explained. “I always wanted to play man coverage, so learning to play zone was the toughest transition.”
Although his senior season was a success, his varsity career started slowly.
“Sophomore year, I had a fracture in my back. I had to sit out the whole year. I started my first varsity game the fifth game of my junior year.”
After the football season, Barber jumped right into training for next season.
“I train at a couple of different places to work on my receiver skills and to get bigger, faster, stronger.”
This spring, he will finish his high school career on the track.
“I started track in 9th grade. I started doing the high jump. It helped me with my vertical. That helped me in my football career. Then I thought I would switch over to the 100 meters because I felt I needed to get faster.”
His extra work has paid off in the form of DII scholarship interest.
“I feel like recruiting has been going good. It picked up after the season; it is stressful. Coaches come and go. I would wonder, ‘am I good enough?’ I would doubt myself a little bit, but I overcame that,” Barber admitted. “I realized you can’t be accepted by everybody, but I have six offers total – Augsburg, U of Mary, Mankato State, Bemidji State, Minnesota-Duluth, and Minnesota-Crookston. I have taken an official visit to Mankato. I will be taking an official to UMD, and I will be taking an official visit to Bemidji State.”
“They see my passion for the game,” Barber concluded. “They like my athletic ability and how I approach the game. They like how I handle myself when I go against tough competition. They see you could be ranked above me, but I am still going to give one hundred percent.”
They also see his flexibility and his willingness to help his team.