Wesley shaping into unlikely leader for Rams’ offensive line

Mack Beaulieu

As a former walk-on, redshirt freshman Barry Wesley has been modest through the early part of his career, but with the Colorado State offensive line struggling and Wesley excelling, his time has come to be a leader of the team.

Wesley has been a utility man of sorts for the Rams, having played both tackle and guard, but he’s proven to some that he’s more than just a throw-in or the next man up. As of now, Wesley is the most obvious person to lead this line going forward.

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Redshirt Freshman Barry Wesley takes part in drills during practice on Nov. 6. The Rams are preparing for their game against Nevada on Nov. 10. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

“Barry’s got a chance to be a really good leader for us,” Coach Mike Bobo said. “One, because I think he’s going to be a really good player; two, he’s a guy that’s going to do things right on and off the field, and three I think he’s not afraid to speak his mind; which is all characteristic of a leader.” 

One of the only constants in a line that has been shifting for much of the year, Wesley has started every game and is now taking snaps at center in practice. While it’s unlikely he takes over for senior Colby Meeks, it could be an omen of what’s to come next year. It’s a position where communication is crucial for the instruction of teammates. Wesley is starting to take on that role after coming up less heralded than most of his teammates.

“It’s a mystery. I could be the next Tyron Smith or I could just be some scrub. I can take myself as far as I want to go and it’s only me. I have people surrounding me that will help me get there, but in the end, it only comes down to what I want to do and how I see things.”Barry Wesley, Redshirt Freshman

Wesley didn’t have any scholarship offers from FBS schools coming out of high school, and there were times when he briefly considered giving up football. After making the Colorado High School Activities Association 5A All-State team his senior season, Wesley decided to follow former high school teammates Bisi Johnson and Jake Bennett to Fort Collins as a preferred walk-on. Few people saw his rapid rise and being put in a position of leadership coming so soon.

“In my opinion, Barry is a future All-American,” senior running back Izzy Matthews said. “He came in as a walk-on, he loves football, and he never quit … He probably can’t be as vocal as he wants to be because he’s a freshman, but I see him growing to be one of those guys like a Jake Bennett or Fred Zerblis who’s just a staple of the offense.”

However, with Wesley performing at a high level and the Rams being guaranteed to lose at least four seniors, that role is coming sooner rather than later.

“The influence he’s going to have right now is in that offensive line room,” Bobo said. “Sometimes we think leaders have to be leaders of the whole team, but it can start in your segment. I don’t want Barry to wait until January to be a leader. I think he needs to step up now like he’s talking about.”

Wesley’s starting to recognize his own strengths as he gets more responsibility from the coaches and while still level-headed, he’s exuding more confidence than he did early in the year after being named as a starter to start the season.

“I first recognized that I could be a leader of the team when Coach (Dave) Johnson put me at different positions,” Wesley said. “I’m the only one in my class that’s playing right now and I think that shows a lot of what I can do and how I can lead the offensive line to where I want them to be. So I’ve recognized it and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Wesley has a lot of time to get there as the lack of offers he had coming out of school may now be a blessing. The lineman thrives on taking in knowledge and now he has an extra year to maximize his potential. His coaches dote on how well Wesley takes in their instruction.

Redshirt Freshman Barry Wesley takes part in drills during practice on Nov 6. The Rams are preparing for their game against Nevada on Nov. 10. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

One of the things Wesley said drives home his knowledge is trying to extend what he knows to teammates.

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“I think the best way to learn is to teach somebody else,” Wesley said. “When you teach somebody else, they learn, and it makes you know the information better.”

At this point in the season, Rams fans might not want to hear about any bright spots on the Rams’ offensive line. Wesley and everyone else knows it hasn’t been pretty, but he exemplifies the process that individual players need to take to grow and develop. He’s quietly confident in his own abilities while knowing there’s still a long way to go for him and his Ram teammates.

“You can’t play football without the offensive line,” Wesley said. “You can’t throw or run the ball successfully without the offensive line, so I think it’s pretty critical that we improve within these next few weeks and in the course of the offseason.”

It’s unknown where Wesley could take the Rams, but the hope is they choose to take on the mentality of improving in the same way Wesley does.

“It’s a mystery,” Wesley said. “I could be the next Tyron Smith or I could just be some scrub. I can take myself as far as I want to go and it’s only me. I have people surrounding me that will help me get there, but in the end, it only comes down to what I want to do and how I see things.”

Reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Mack_Covers.