Neglected at Male High, Chris Barclay returns

Neglected at Male High, Chris Barclay returns
Neglected at Male High, Chris Barclay returns

Jeff Brohm of Louisville says brothers Greg and Brian give advice

“I get opinions (from my family) all the time,” Jeff Brohm said during his introduction as Louisville’s head football coach. “And it’s almost always on things that I do wrong.”

Matt Stone, Louisville Courier Journal

Chris Barclay came with a warning.

Whenever college coaches came to Male High School to see the budding football star in the early 2000s, Bulldogs head coach Bob Redman would let the scout know what to expect — or better yet , of what should not be expected.

“He would tell the coaches to be aware that when he comes in he might not look like much,” Barclay recalled, telling Redman. “He may look like he belongs in the local library with his glasses and things like that, but he can play now. Just cut the tape.

There was nothing particularly intimidating about Barclay’s physical appearance. He’s 5-foot-8″ and changing,” as he puts it. As a result, when he played for the Bulldogs, Barclay didn’t get as much attention as some of his teammates like running back Michael Bush or wide receiver Montrell Jones. It was OK with him, though. In some ways, Barclay has thrived as an underdog.

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The kid who looked more out of place in a library than on a football pitch has become a record running back at Wake Forest. He is now back in his hometown where he is entering his first season as running backs coach for the University of Louisville.

“I think that chip has always been there,” Barclay said. “My dad kind of instilled that very early on. He told me that physically I might not appeal to everyone, but he always told me that they can’t measure heart, inches and pounds, and that’s what you have. So you just have to go out there and give your all every day and attack every day.

“He always delivered”

Prior to the official conclusion of the 2000 KHSAA Class 4A State Championship game, Montrell Jones was interviewed on the sidelines by members of the media who had braved freezing temperatures to watch Male thrash Trinity 34-14 on Dec. 2.

Jones, then a junior who went on to play at Tennessee, had done a bit of everything for the Bulldogs and became the state leader in career receptions and touchdowns after making two TD catches in the game. For as spectacular as Jones — Kentucky’s Mr. Football this season — was, Barclay, also in his freshman year, wasn’t too far behind. He rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries (5.9 yards per carry), scoring 1 yard and taking 7 yards in the win, accounting for 33% of the team’s offensive yardage.

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The following year, Michael Bush was the big name. While he would continue to play running back at Louisville, Bush played quarterback for the Bulldogs and passed for 331 yards in the 2001 state championship — a lopsided 45-19 loss to Trinity. Brian Brohm, now Louisville’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, had 377 passing yards and three touchdowns for Trinity in their win.

Barclay had no rushing yards but was Male’s second wide receiver with 70 yards on four receptions to go along with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to end his senior campaign. He also chose Brohm.

“They were all outstanding,” Redman said of Jones, Bush and Barclay, “but Chris was that guy. He was the eldest. He was the go-to guy when you needed a big catch, a big play on defense. He played both ways.

“For example, in the state championship game, he was the guy you were looking for to provide that big play when you needed it and his success rate in those situations was outstanding. He always delivered. ”

Setting to standard

Barclay left Wake Forest in 2005 as the Demon Deacons’ all-time leading scorer with 240 points. He now sits in fifth place on the list. But Barclay is still at the top of several lists at Wake Forest – career rushing yards (4,032), career rushing touchdowns (40), career all-around yards (4,930), most runs without a fumble (368) and most 100-yard rushing games (tied with 15), to name a few.

“After he left (Male) and did what he did (at Wake Forest) I had a lot of college coaches showing up… and they were always asking me if you had any more Barclays” , said Redman, laughing. “He definitely set a standard.”

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Barclay also led the ACC in rushing (1,127) and all-purpose yards (1,508) as a senior in 2005 and was Wake’s rushing and all-purpose yards leader in each of his last three seasons with the Demon Deacons. .

In 2001, Redman – who started coaching high school football in Malé in 1992 and retired in 2009 – said Barclay was one of the best running backs he had ever coached. Twenty-two years later, he still stands by that statement.

“In the open, (Barclay was) very elusive and his lateral movement was just amazing,” Redman said. “He saw what was around him, was always able to find that open space and was strong enough and resilient enough to always get that extra yard where you needed it…Whether it was in a locker room, whether that either in a classroom, he was a guy you could trust.

“What Chris Barclay has become”

Barclay’s return to Louisville and the ACC spanned nearly two decades.

After a successful college career as a demon deacon, the 2018 Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame inductee was signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent and played football professionally at the foreigner before starting his coaching career.

Starting as a graduate assistant at Wake Forest in 2011, Barclay spent time coaching running backs at William & Mary, Marshall, Western Kentucky and Purdue before last month’s full circle moment when he was officially named running backs coach for the Cardinals on Dec. 13, 2011. 26.

“It was definitely a whirlwind for the first two weeks,” Barclay said of his return to Louisville. “I know my wife was delighted that things had calmed down and (we were able to) visit family for a bit for the holidays. But now that I’m back, it’s so humbling and an honor to be home. I’ve always had a lot of respect for this program, I love the city.

In his first season with the Cardinals, Barclay is also looking forward to working with U of L running backs Jawhar Jordan and Maurice Turner, who were the driving force behind Louisville’s 24-7 win over Cincinnati at the Fenway Bowl on Dec. 17. like Barclay, both were overlooked at the start of the season. The drop depth chart had Jordan as a potential third stringer with Turner’s name not mentioned at all.

The rise of the underdogs:How Jawhar Jordan and Maurice Turner went from deep in the depth chart to Louisville stars

Four months later, Jordan and Turner were the only remaining fullbacks from an initial group of five. But they carried the charge well, Jordan’s effort earning him Fenway Bowl Offensive MVP honors.

“It was a pleasure to see these young men in the game of bowls take off,” Barclay said. “Obviously it was a collective effort. The team played well. But offensively, I thought those two were the shining stars on offense for the game. It was really exciting, as a coach, to know that I have two home run hitters that I’m going to be able to coach and help them take their game to the next level.

Between recruiting, meeting current Cardinals and everything that comes with the move, Barclay has had a busy schedule. Redman is among many who are excited about Barclay’s return and new role at the U of L.

“Along with a lot of my players that I’ve had over the years, a group of guys that have risen to the top who have played in high school, college and (in) the NFL have had great careers,” said Redman, “but seeing them in their professional life, in their post-football coaching life, seeing their contributions to society… I think the most important aspect of my coaching career has been seeing these guys become exactly what Chris Barclay has become.”

Contact Louisville football, women’s basketball and baseball batting writer Alexis Cubit at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Alexis_Cubit.

. Neglected Male High Chris Barclay returns

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