Austin Barrick has played many positions at Georgia Tech: wide receiver, tight end, special teams blocker, offensive tackle, and done each of them fairly well, as he modestly says.
Despite his ability to change positions and all that comes with it — different assignments, routines, terms, skill sets — he’s perhaps most known for the thing he wasn’t able to do: get three feet against Georgia in last year’s 45-42 win.
Barrick, who is 6-3 and 275 pounds give or take a baked potato, took a lateral on the play, and as he neared the first down marker, tried to do a little shimmy that didn’t quite work. He came up one yard short.
But, Barrick laughed it off in an interview on Monday, and promised a different result should he get another chance.
AJC: You’ve played, like, six different positions. Which has been the hardest position?
AB: Hardest position? They’ve all had their challenges. Tight end was a tough transition for me because I came in as a receiving tight end. I basically played slot receiver in high school and I never really had to block. So the transition from receiver to blocking primarily was a really tough transition.
Now getting into this system and learning o-line has been tough because it’s a totally different from traditional blocking. You’re running downfield and cutting legs. They’ve all had their challenges, but I think I’ve done fairly solid.
AJC: Which has been the most fun?
AB:Tackle, actually. You’d think touching the ball is more fun. But I really like playing with the guys I play with on the line and the camaraderie is great. Pretty rewarding whenever you run up to a guy two times your size and cut him to ground. I love it.
AJC: What did you weigh when you got here?
AB: When I got here I weighed 248-250. Fluctuated the whole time I’ve been here, as to what position I’ve been in. Now I weigh about 275-280. Like to stay somewhere around there to play. It gives me the weight to hang in there to hand with the bigger guys, pass blocking and what not. Also keeps my speed advantage over most lineman.
AJC: How did you put on that much weight?
AB: Pretty natural. I can gain just about as much weight as you need me to. I was basically starving myself to stay at 250. Eating again has been nice.
AJC: What do you like to eat?
AB: Anything and everything. I’m a basic steak and potatoes kind of guy. I like good country food. Mom makes a great meat loaf. I love that. I’ve never really been one to turn food down.
AJC: I was doing some reading about Moody. Is there no one famous from Moody? All the schools are named Moody. Moody, Moody, Moody, Moody, Moody.
AB: I really don’t know if there’s been anyone from Moody that’s been famous. I just graudated from there. I just went there one year. Moved there one year. I grew up in Albertville. Had a guy called Rusty Greer from there. Pretty big name in baseball. Also the Hannahs. Couple of famous guys from there.
AJC: How did you not score against Georgia?
AB: Let me officially get this out there. This is my official statement: It had been three years since I caught the ball in a game. I was nervous. I was worried about catching the ball. It sounds bad, but down and distance was totally beyond me at that point. You’re in Georgia’s stadium. Biggest game of my life. And they call my number to catch the ball. If I could do it again, I’d lower my shoulder. If I knew I was one yard away, I would lower my shoulder.
I thought Dan Voss was coming up on my left side, and I was going to follow him, but the extra 30 pounds thought different. Maybe if I was still 250 I could pull it off. I know if they call my number again, I’ll lower the boom next time. You can take that to the bank, Georgia Tech fans.
AJC: Who was the toughest player to block last year?
AB: (LSU’s) Tyson Jackson is a great player. He went third overall in the draft. Great player, great combination of size, speed. Used his hands very well. Played hard. He was probably the toughest player for me to block.
Another one would be Allen Bailey from Miami, just because he’s so unbelievably strong. His arms looked like legs, and it looked like a roadmap of Atlanta, he had so many veins. I’d say those two guys are the toughest, but Tyson Jackson takes the cake, by far.
AJC: Could you see it on the film, and expect it? Or was it different when you were actually against it?
AB: They looked great on film. Obviously you can’t hide athleticism like that. They definitely were ready for us. The extra time they had. There were rumors they flew a guy in who specialized in the option. When you have that much time, and you have that kind of caliber of an athlete, he’s obviously going to play up a level. And especially with the NFL Draft looming on his mind, he’s going to put on a good show.
AJC: Back to the Georgia play for one second. Did you know before the game that the play was likely going to get called?
AB: We had run it in practice. We were having fun with it. I took it seriously but I didn’t really know if it was going to get called. Coach Johnson would play around with me, saying “Be ready if we are going to call the play.” I was like, “Ha! Ha! Yeah right.” When they called it, I was pretty nervous. It was a pleasant surprise. It was nice to touch the ball again. I wouldn’t be against them calling the play a couple more times this year.
AJC: Where are you working this summer?
AB: Druid Hills Golf Club.
AJC: What are you doing there?
AB: The past couple of weeks I’ve worked security, normally at the front gate. Normally me and (basketball player) Brad Sellers, who works there, work banquet staff. It’s typical, working wedding receptions, banquets they have, busting tables, running food. It’s some grunt work, but it’s a good summer job.
AJC: Haven’t had any issues out there with anyone, right? Haven’t had to shoo anyone away?
AB: No. No. I was trying to talk them into letting me carry a nightstick around. Most we get is a set of keys and a walkie. So, not too many rowdy folks out there.
AJC: Y’all are the only team in the country playing three SEC teams in your non-conference schedule. What does that mean to you?
AB: Well, it’s an opportunity. People always talk about the SEC and how they are one of the most prestigious conferences, if not the most, in the nation. It’s definitely an opportunity to go out there and show what we can do against some of the best competition. Also, if we win out, it will help in our favor with the BCS standings, the rankings.
I can find no negatives. There’s some really big, physical, well-coached teams. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. I think everyone is fired up to play some teams in the SEC and really prove that Georgia Tech is for real. Just really kind of put any naysayers to rest.
AJC: So what are you looking forward to most this season?
AB: Just getting back out there, hitting other people. Playing with my teammates. There’s always trials, tribulations. But there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t wait to see what we can do. We’ve been working the whole summer, the offseason, getting ready for this upcoming season. I’m looking forward to hopefully reaping the rewards of what we are doing doing. ACC championship, big bowl game, maybe national title. I don’t know. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’m just looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.
Running the system a lot more efficiently than we were last year. Looking forward to seeing what we can really do with it.