Dec. 28, 2012
DALLAS – In his first season at Oklahoma State, Calvin Barnett established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the Big 12 Conference. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound junior from Tulsa was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and an All-Big 12 First Team performer by the league’s coaches and earned All-Big 12 Second Team status from the Associated Press. Barnett started every game for the Cowboys in 2012 and recorded 29 tackles, including a team-high 7.5 for loss.
A former JUCO All-American at Navarro Junior College, Barnett chatted with okstate.com about his first season at OSU following Friday’s practice for the upcoming Heart of Dallas Bowl.
It takes a lot of guys a while to make the transition from junior college to Division I, but you’ve had immediate success. What has been the biggest adjustment for you and what has allowed you to produce at such a high level?
“In my eyes, I’ve just had an okay year. The transition for me was very hard, but I just had to stay focused and work hard on a daily basis. The talent level is so much higher. In junior college, I went against people who won’t go to Division I, who won’t play ball after junior college. Here, I’m going against people who are going to the NFL. The speed of the game, everyone’s skill and strength, everything is just at another level.”
How nice was it to get the accolades and respect from those around the league?
“I didn’t think about any of that stuff, but it’s nice to be recognized for your hard work. Week-in and week-out, I was just worried about winning. I wasn’t thinking about myself, I was just trying to make sure I did my job. When I received those rewards, it made me feel good and let me know that my hard work was being noticed.”
You mentioned doing your job. As a defensive tackle, what is it you’re trying to do?
“I’m just trying to cause pressure against the run and pass. We watch film and scout our opponents, but at the same time, we don’t know what we’re getting. Regardless of what the other team does, I just have to make sure I get off the ball and do my job, whether I’m staying in my gap trying to put a move on somebody or just stuffing the run.”
What is your biggest strength that allows you to be successful?
“My aggressiveness. When I got here, I didn’t know any plays, and it took me a long time to get in the system. But I just told myself to get off the ball. If I get off the ball, we can fix everything else later.”
How much have you improved since you got to OSU?
“I’m completely different. When I first got here, I was so new to everything. Regardless of having already played two years of college football, I still felt young because I hadn’t played at this level yet. Now I feel that I don’t miss a beat. I feel like a veteran.”
You got elected as a team captain in your first year in the program. What does that mean to you?
“It means a lot. I’m used to being a captain and being one of the leaders on my team. When I got here, I knew I had a certain role to play. I’ve played that role. I’ve been told in the past that leaders aren’t chosen, they’re born. My team recognized me, and I thank them for that.”
Your journey to get to OSU was a long one. You signed with Arkansas out of high school, then went to junior college and finally ended up in Stillwater. Do you feel like OSU is the perfect spot for you?
“Yes. There was never a doubt in my mind that I shouldn’t come here. When I was in high school, there were pros and cons to both sides (OSU and Arkansas), and it was basically even. At the time, I just made a different decision. In junior college, I had time to mature and develop as a person, a football player and a student, and I decided I wanted to be a Cowboy, I wanted to go home and play here. It’s been a great opportunity.”