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Barry Wesley: A game changer on and off the field

The pancake specialist, Barry Wesley, is a vital part of Colorado State’s football team and culture.

And no, I am not talking about breakfast foods. Pancake blocks occur in football when an offensive lineman knocks a defender flat on their back. Redshirt sophomore Wesley is notorious for the play. Wesley has roughly 18 of these knockdowns already this year, and he anticipates many more.

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“Personally, I’d like to get a little bit more knockdowns,” Wesley said after the CSU vs. Arkansas game. “I had like four last game, and I need at least five.”

Colorado State University football players Barry Wesley (69) and Preston Williams (11) celebrate after a touchdown in the game against Utah State. (Collegian File Photo)

Linemen never get the glamour or the hype that skilled position players do, but it is the dirty work done in the trenches that wins football games. Linemen open the holes that running backs go through, and after the yardage is gained, it’s the running back that receives the glory for the positive yards.

Offensive linemen have to seal off defensive players to create these holes, and a pancake block completely takes a defender out of the play. When a defender is on their back, they likely can’t make a tackle, and that’s one less player the running back has to worry about.

Pancakes are about the only statistic for offensive linemen that are tracked, and it oftentimes doesn’t come up on the stat sheet. Wesley isn’t one to care about the glamour of the game; he simply does whatever it takes to win.

Wesley’s football journey hasn’t been the prettiest and hasn’t been the most orthodox. Wesley played little league football from second through eighth grade, but his final year before high school was a tough one. Wesley nearly ended his football career before it even started.

“Eighth grade was kind of a struggle for me; I’m a big fat kid that didn’t want to run around as much as I (needed) to,” Wesley said. “That year I really struggled with deciding to play, and I decided to just because of my parents who said, ‘Just give it one more year.’”

His decision to continue playing football turned out to be a good one. The Morrison, Colorado, product was an all-state honorable mention for Bear Creek High School and recorded 17 pancakes blocks in his senior year. Even with the success Wesley found, he didn’t know if football was still in his future.

“I didn’t really want to play college football until my junior year,” Wesley said.

During his junior year, Wesley, who also played baseball in high school, joined the wrestling team.

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“For some odd reason, that made me want to play college football.”

Colorado State University offensive lineman Barry Wesley (69) takes part in drills during practice Sept. 24. The Rams are preparing for their game against Utah State on Sept. 28. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

While wrestling, Wesley realized that the sport he loved was football and that the techniques and strategies in wrestling helped him as a lineman, prompting Wesley to continue his football career.

Staying in his native state, he chose to continue playing at CSU, a school he saw himself potentially going to after attending a football camp. Wesley received a preferred walk-on offer from CSU football and took the opportunity right away.

As a walk-on, Wesley redshirted his first season and questioned whether he belonged because he wasn’t a scholarship athlete. Luckily for Wesley, he had teammates who helped him through that first year.

Jake Bennett, Zack Golditch and Trae Moxley were three senior starters on the O-Line that mentored Wesley. Bennett and now NFL Minnesota Vikings receiver Olabisi Johnson were former Bear Creek alumni, and that familiarity helped with Wesley’s transition.

Wesley was able to get acclimated quickly, and by his redshirt freshman season, he became a full-time starter. Wesley started the first seven games in 2018 at left tackle and the remaining five at left guard. On a team that finished 14th in passing offense in the FBS as a full-time starter, Wesley was finally awarded a scholarship. As a permanent starter and one of the most highly regarded players on the team, Wesley has eased his way into a leadership role for this Rams team as a captain for one of the football accountability teams.

“When he got that role to be a captain, it was amazing to see how he changed and how he just wanted to win,” teammate Ellison Hubbard said.

As a roommate and defensive lineman who practices directly against Barry, not many people know Barry better than Hubbard.

“When he got that scholarship, it was a whole different change,” Hubbard said. “He got to step up and lead the O-line and lead the guys so we can become a championship team; that’s a cool guy.”

Wesley is known by many for his football leadership skills, but it is his work off the field that makes him a distinguished member of the Fort Collins community. Last year, he participated in a service and cultural immersion trip to Petersfield, Jamaica, called Green and Global.

football player practices
Colorado State football defensive lineman Jan-Phillip Bombek (91) and offensive lineman Barry Wesley (69) on the practice field next to Canvas Stadium on Sept. 24. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Wesley was able to immerse himself in an unfamiliar culture and be of service to the people of Jamaica. He’s also a part of the President’s Multicultural Student Advisory Committee, an advisory group to the president that addresses issues on social identity and multiculturalism.

Collegiate life and inclusiveness for those of different cultures are important to Wesley. He is also a member of the John Mosley leadership program. Mosley was CSU’s first Black football student-athlete, and the program named after him helps student-athletes get acclimated to the differences of college athletics.

Wesley has made a significant difference in the community and is directly changing the culture in Fort Collins, making an impact on and off the field.

Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @baileybassett_.

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