teammates were honing their skills on the field the last two springs, all Josh Barrett could do was spend time in the training room, rehabilitating after shoulder surgery.
Twice, the junior-to-be has gone under the knife, preventing him from achieving the vast potential the Sun Devil coaches believe he possesses. Now, Barrett is fully healthy, fully up to speed and is enjoying perhaps the finest spring of any ASU player.
“It makes a difference not coming off an injury and being comfortable with the defense,” the safety said. “You know the schemes and knowing what you have to do to get better.”
A projected starter going into the 2005 season, Barrett lost the job after Camp Tontozona to Zach Catanese. He appeared in all 12 games, finishing seventh on the team with 37 tackles.
Barrett said last year was more of a mental than physical challenge.
“I felt great coming off the surgery,” Barrett said. “I didn’t have trouble adjusting physically. I had trouble adjusting to the tempo and getting my confidence back to be sure I can hit and go full speed.”
Able to participate in weight training and conditioning prior to spring practice, Barrett is in even better shape, eager to form a dominant duo with the player who once passed him on the depth chart.
“Josh is playing with a ton of confidence,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “He’s been able to train, and he’s gotten big and fast, and that’s what you love to have. He and Zach Catanese are turning into quite a tandem at safety.”
The running game had its way with a depleted defensive line on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, as backs Keegan Herring, Preston Jones and Shawn DeWitty enjoyed big gallops.
Tranell Morant, Kyle Caldwell, Loren Howard and Will Kofe (with a leg injury suffered on Friday night) were out, and Shannon Jones was absent while attending his brother’s wedding in California.
“I don’t know if you can read anything into that, because our offensive line should dominate a group missing five guys,” Koetter said.
Kofe, safety Troy Nolan (knee) and cornerback Chad Green (arm) have joined a growing list of players who are out or doubtful for the rest of spring, but Koetter said there are no plans to decrease the contact during workouts.
“Not yet, but if you read up, there are plenty of teams around the country who have had to change practice,” Koetter said. “I still think we’re going to get a lot of our injured guys back.”
BAD HAIR DAY
Herring is sporting a Mohawk haircut, his payment for losing a bet — and a workout sprint to Barrett — during the fall.
“He thought he was a lot faster than me, so I had to teach him a lesson,” Barrett said.
Replied Herring: “I was a foolish freshman then. That’s all I’ll say.”