Olympus football’s Tommy Barrus receives national recognitionOct 26, 2020 03:21PM ● By Tavia Dutson
Tommy Barrus (53) blocks an opponent to clear a path for his teammate. (Photo courtesy Tommy Barrus)
By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]
In a Friday night game versus Riverton, Olympus right guard Tommy Barrus made an outstanding block to clear the path for teammate Ryan Reynard’s 66-yard touchdown run. Although the Titans lost in a nail-biting finish, this play would result in much more than a Titan touchdown.
In 2018, the NFL announced the “Way to Play Award” following the success of its educational series of the same name. The goal of both the award and preceding series has been to create a new culture in football that emphasizes the safety of players. The League recognizes one high school player each week that exemplifies the goals of the initiative.
Barrus was announced as the Week 5 recipient of the award on Oct. 10, 2020 on “Good Morning Football.” Host Michael Robinson, a former Seattle Seahawk, was full of praise for Barrus’ form.
“I love how he leads with his hands and takes his helmet out of the play,” said Robinson. “This big guard just pancakes the linebacker. I love this, especially being a former fullback.”
The Way to Play initiative focuses on safety, specifically in tackling and blocking form. The campaign’s slogan, “Knees bent. Pads down. Head up and out,” describes the safest way players can approach a tackle or block.
This initiative comes in response to complaints regarding former professional football players suffering from degenerative brain diseases. One way to attack this issue head on is to do just the opposite—keep players heads out of the play. Leagues of all ages have been enforcing strict penalties on players that use the crown of their head in a tackle.
Junior Tommy Barrus is 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, which is considered small for a lineman. Using correct form is how he is able to compete against opponents that are 50-100 pounds heavier than him.
“I think that technique is more important for me than most of the other players on the field, just because I don’t have the size to make up for a lack of technique,” said Barrus.
When Barrus entered the 2020 football season, he certainly was not expecting national recognition for a play made in a varsity game. After finishing up the lacrosse season, he shifted his focus to football. The first week of practice he realized he would be the Titan’s starting right guard.
Following a season as a member of the sophomore team, he found himself a sudden starter on this year’s Titan’s varsity roster. After looking up to last year’s Olympus High standouts Emerson Comlon and Lucas Spillett, he was now expected to fill that spot.
“It was definitely a shock to the team when Emerson left as a three-year starter. I had to step it up and fill some big shoes,” said Barrus.
Barrus knows that he would not have this national recognition without looking up to those two influential players. Barrus was able to watch Comlon, one of the best guards in the state, to learn proper form.
Coming off a big announcement, Barrus is still focused on the games ahead. As the Titans trained to take on Skyline, Barrus was centered on the game—preparing for what he knew would be a close match up. At the end of the day, Barrus was surprised and humbled to receive an award in a position that often gets overlooked.
“It’s pretty sweet, especially for the linemen,” he said. “It’s not often that we get recognized for something like this.”