Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 21, 2012

Raising the Barr

Northeastern State defensive back expected to fill key voids on defense in 2012.

Chandler Barr was a regular on special teams with limited time on defense in 2011. Don't expect that trend to continue in 2012.

With Ryan Keenom and Nate Robinson already departed because of graduation, Barr will be called upon to be a new key cog in the Northeastern State secondary. Luckily for him, he'll be surrounded by a strong supporting cast.

"We've got two good safeties that are going to fill spots this year," Barr said, evaluating the vacancies left by Keenom leaving and Cayle Shambaugh moving up to linebacker.

"Victor Johnson, a transfer from Oklahoma State, and Kyler Harris (a sophomore from Muskogee) are going to be really good for us."

With the emergence of Johnson and Harris, Barr, an Anadarko native, relocated from safety to cornerback in an effort to chase more playing time. And because of that, he's likely to called upon early and often, according to NSU head coach Kenny Evans.

"He's very capable; he showed that he can do some things this spring," Evans said of Barr, who measures in 175 pounds while standing six feet tall. "We recruited some guys at that position, but we feel like Chandler is ready to play. He has learned our system and has learned the college football game. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Barr's spot in the starting rotation won't be a guarantee by any stretch. But he's OK with that.

Competition for playing time in practice, "keeps you honest," said Barr, who will likely joust with Langston Jones, David Lewis, Colton Nevel, Marquin Watts, Travon Brooks and others for time at cornerback.

"That just means you can't slack off. If you slack off, you lose your spot. That makes everyone better."

With the RiverHawks' season opener at home against the reigning Division II national champions, Pittsburg State, still more than two months away, Evans won't divulge any details on Barr being in the starting rotation.

"He should be right in contention to compete for a starting position," Evans said. "Whether he's a starter or a backup, we know he's capable of doing the things we want at that position."

In 2011, Barr finished with a grand total of 12 tackles. His season high (five) came against Panhandle State on Sept. 24.

But along the way, Barr learned picked up plenty of pointers from Robinson, an All-American cornerback during his junior season and one of the premier cornerbacks in D-II football.

"You don't see a lot of guys like Nate Robinson," Barr said. "He can just about do it all, even with being undersized in almost every category. But he has a bunch of God-given ability. He was just a real special player."

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