ST. CHARLES – The road map had been written, but Austin Barrett is taking his own road into his next chapter as a football player.
Barrett, a St. Charles East senior offensive tackle and three-star recruit, verbally committed to Indiana University on July 29.
His older brother, Dylan, is a sophomore tackle at Wisconsin after his own successful high school career with the Saints. Seeing that experience play out helped mold Austin’s foray into the Big Ten landscape.
“It helped a lot in the recruiting process as far as how to network and how to go about talking to coaches,” Austin Barrett said. “It gave me a good look into what playing Big Ten football really is. I know the sacrifice, time and the work that goes into it.
“I’m prepared to sacrifice and work hard for a spot. I think it’s a little overlooked as far as actually playing and getting to college. … With my brother playing college football and me going through the recruiting process at this time, I know exactly what I am in for and it really helped me having Dylan who is also one of my best friends.”
Barrett, a three-year varsity starter, chose Indiana from 18 offers. The list included Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas and Boston College. Barrett is the 17th-ranked prospect in Illinois’ Class of 2023 by the recruiting website 247Sports.
“Probably the [factor for my decision] that stood out the most was [head coach Tom] Allen and the coaching staff,” Barrett said. “I’m a people-driven kind of guy. When it comes to IU, there’s [senior assistant AD for football performance] Aaron Wellman and [offensive line coach] Darren Hiller. They want to develop me and they want me to start as soon as possible.”
Barrett, currently at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, projects to stay on the offensive line. However, initial discussions have included potentially playing as a true freshman as a blocking tight end.
“They’re all for me. They’re over the moon for me,” Barrett said. “I want to play with guys who want to rock with me, and when it comes to IU, they want me on the field and they want me to have the biggest impact on the team. That’s what I want in a college and also, not to mention, the phenomenal education.”
Barrett expects to bulk up to 300 pounds in the Hoosiers’ strength and conditioning program.
“With my frame, not only can I add a lot of good weight, but with my intangibles … I can bend very well,” Barrett said. “I’m fast. All those kinds of things, especially my quickness, is something that I think I carry well.
“With me being athletic and the strength staff they have, it’s a perfect match. When they offered me, there’s a difference between a 300-pound man and a 300-pound kid. Some people don’t understand that. I’m not 300 pounds [yet]. I know I will be. I want to get there the right way. I’m not going to sit around eating pizza just to add on weight I don’t necessarily need right now.”