He won’t be doing the “duck walk” in front of the crowd this fall, but there is a new player with a familiar sounding name on the Florida football roster. The official roster says he’s Jim Barrie, but if you ask his teammates, he’s Chuck — Chuck Barrie, a different spelling but the same pronunciation of Chuck Berry the rock and roll hall of famer.
“Chuck” Barrie is a true freshman center, the third snapper on the roster behind senior starter Steven Rissler and his backup, redshirt freshman Eddie Haupt. On an offensive line that has taken a few hits due to the injury bug in the last couple of days, Chuck’s importance can’t be underestimated. Every lineman counts these days.
Jim Barrie officially became “Chuck” Barrie to his teammates because one of the veteran offensive linemen, Jim Tartt, decided there were too many Jims in the room when the guards and centers held their position meetings with Coach John Hevesy. Tartt is a third-year sophomore offensive guard and a starter, so his word became final.
“We were in the meeting rooms and Tartt would get confused when Coach Hevesy would say Jimmy,” Barrie said. “Tartt got tired of looking up when (Hevesy) wasn’t talking to him. So, now I am ‘Chuck Barrie’ because Jim said I remind him of an old singer named Chuck Berry.”
Barrie played tackle at Berkeley Prep in Tampa but at Florida he’s making the transition to center. He’s got the athletic ability to go with the mental capacity that it takes. Hevesy thinks Chuck has the tools to become an outstanding college center.
“He has good feet and is intelligent, two things good for the center position,” Hevesy said before fall practice ever started.
For Barrie the transition has gone well and he also thinks that the position is a natural fit.
“The adjustment from tackle to center is the toughest part,” Barrie said. “I am working on my snaps and getting the timing down, making the play calls, and identifying linebackers. I just have to get used to it. I have grown accustomed to it and really like it now.”
Because he is a confident player, being the man in charge on the offensive line is appealing. Barrie beleives he could one day be a good leader on the line.
“I like that I am in control and can touch the ball,” he said. “Everyone is relying on you so there is a lot of pressure. I have to be everything. I may mess up a snap here and there, but I just have to take the beating from the coaches and get better.”
Barrie wants to live up to the expectations of Florida’s coaches. That’s why he put himself through a rigorous weight and training program prior to arriving on campus. He lost 25 pounds and is in the best shape of his life.
“They think I am a good learner and have good feet and can develop into a good player,” Barrie said. “I probably need to get used to the game speed and the great players I am facing. I am up to about 290 now and that is probably where I want to stay.
“The reason I lost a lot of weight (he was down to 270 this summer) was to show up in really good shape and I think it helped me a lot with all the running in the summer. Then we eat a lot and build up. The strength and conditioning here is incomparable anywhere.”
Every day this preseason the offensive line is facing probably the best defensive line they will face all year. When the offensive line moves Florida’s D-line, it means they’ve really done something special. Barrie understands that going against these guys every day will only make him better in the long haul.
“Blocking guys like Marcus Thomas who is going to be a first round pick is good for us,” Barrie said, “I don’t think there is anyone to block as good as those guys.”
And what does he do when he looks across the football and sees Marcus Thomas breathing on him from the other side?
“You can’t look at the name, you just have to do your best,” he said.
Barrie likes the makeup of the current line and from what he understands this year’s line is so different in so many ways than last year’s group.
“We are progressively getting better,” Barrie said. “We have an attitude and I heard last year there wasn’t much of an attitude. We are tough and everyone gives all-out effort. For example yesterday in inside run (drill) everyone was pounding off the ball and it wasn’t like that last year. You can see it on film, and we are just killing people. I think we are going to be very good.”
He also knows who sets the tone up front for the line.
“Ronnie Wilson and Steve Rissler are ballers and they just smash people,” Barrie said. “I hope to model my game after those guys.”
Barrie prepares to get himself ready in case he is called into duty. Like most on this team, he just wants to perform the job that will get the team in the win column on Saturdays.
“I hope to get some playing time if I can get my snaps down and get used to the speed,” he said. “Anything to help the team is what I want to do.”
If Chuck Berry had to write it all over again, and Jim Barrie was his subject, one of his hit songs might have been a little different. Johnny would have never had his 15 minutes of fame if it had been “Jimmy Be Good.”