As part of Monday’s first session of the Big Ten Media Days, The Daily Gopher had the opportunity to speak with and ask a couple questions of each of the three player representatives that accompanied head coach P.J. Fleck to Chicago.
Here are some quotes from junior linebacker Thomas Barber.
On what clicked between his freshman and sophomore seasons:
“Just people believing in me, giving me an opportunity. My dad always said, when you get an opportunity, attack it. Don’t waste the opportunity that you’re given. I really just tried to make the most of it. The coaches having faith in me, they would always tell me, ‘We want you to be a linebacker, but if you’re not up to it...” So just wanted to fulfill [the faith] they put into me and continue for the next two years.”
On his goals for the season ahead:
“I’m taking it day-by-day. My goal is to take it day-by-day and keep leading the defense, keep leading the team, because without that we’re not going to be successful.”
On how linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Robb Smith has impacted his development:
“He’s really brought out the leadership qualities. It’s one of those things where he doesn’t want to be coaching the linebackers — he wants me to coach the linebackers. And that’s really [where I’ve developed] the leadership qualities I’ve had to add. Being a big brother, especially to the young guys coming in.”
On how comfortable the defense is after one season under Smith:
“It’s a lot different feel, especially during captains’ practice in the spring. When we have captains’ practice now, it’s a lot smoother, we’re able to correct each other when we’re wrong and we know when we’re wrong. That’s a huge difference with the defense from this time last year.”
On what he has seen from now-eligible transfers O.J. Smith and Chris Williamson:
“Just in the weight room, seeing them move the weight, seeing how fast and strong they’ve both gotten. Then on the field, it’s a whole other thing. Seeing them perform and making plays in spring ball was amazing.”
On who gives the best football advice between his father, Marion, and his brothers, Marion Barber III and Dominique:
“That’s a tough question. To be honest with you, I think it’s just my dad and my brothers relaying, because it all sounds the same. But it’s all in good fun. They really do have the best out for me. They do their best to protect to me.”