Because there were a lot more college football players out there with “freshman” next to their names last season, thanks to COVID-19 adding an extra year of eligibility for anyone who wants it, making a freshman All-America team was even more difficult .
BYU’s Campbell Barrington accomplished it anyway.
“I thought it was kinda crazy,” Barrington said of his reaction when he heard the news. “I was overwhelmed and a little shocked, but I was super grateful for it.”
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound offensive lineman who started the last six games of the season at right tackle for the Cougars when opening-day starter Harris LaChance sustained a lower leg injury, actually made several Freshman All-America teams, the most recently being the Football Writers Association of America first team.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Barrington, a Spokane, Washington, native whose family moved to Orem in 2019 while he was on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Mexico. “It wasn’t something I even thought about getting, so it was a nice surprise.”
Barrington was one of 32 players selected by the FWAA, which has 13 offensive players, 14 defensive players and five special teams players on its team. He also received freshman All-America accolades from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Network, the Action Network and the Maxwell Football Club.
He was on the watch list for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award, which eventually went to Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. Barrington also made the Pro Football Network and Phil Steele All-Independent teams.
Not bad for a self-described “underweight little freshman” who was buried on the depth chart when the season began. With Barrington replacing LaChance and fellow freshman Connor Pay filling in for senior James Empey when he sustained a season-ending ankle injury, the Cougars finished the 2021 season in the top 25 of 32 statistical categories on offense, including No. 3 in red-zone touchdown percentage (74.6).
Speaking of Empey, he was the last Cougar to be honored as a freshman All-American by the FWAA, in 2018. The American Fork product has decided not to take his extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19 and has declared for April’s NFL draft.
“James has been a great example and a role model for all of us offensive linemen,” Barrington said. “When the (announcement was made), he shot me a little text, congratulating me. He’s an awesome guy.”
Barrington also has another outstanding role model to look up to on the team — his brother, Clark, who has been in the program since 2018. Clark Barrington is an Action Network Second-Team All-American and a Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Network Third Team All American.
“Personally, I thought I had a pretty good season,” Campbell Barrington said. “I definitely know, being a freshman, that there is a lot of stuff I need to work on to get my game where it needs to be. I am excited for the coming season to play with my brother and all the other great guys on the offensive line.”
Empey is the only member of offensive line coach Darrell Funk’s outstanding unit who is moving on. Starting guards Clark Barrington and Joe Tukuafu said at the end of the season they are coming back. Left tackle Blake Freeland is also a rising star.
The group helped running back Tyler Allgeier, who is turning pro, set a single-season BYU rushing record with 1,601 yards. Allgeier was No. 4 nationally in rushing yards and No. 1 in touchdowns, with 23.
“This past year, we slipped up in a few games, but I think we were able to show that we can hang with these other, bigger teams,” Campbell Barrington said. “I think that chip-on-our-shoulder mentality has carried over into this year. We want to show that we are capable of beating those guys again.”
He said that while the 31-28 loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl was “tough to swallow for everybody,” the team returned in January eager to work hard and build toward another 10-win season.
Personally, Campbell Barrington wants to improve his footwork and strength, and also gain some weight.
“My coach is always harping on me to get my weight up,” he said. “So that’s one of my big goals.”
He ultimately wants to get to 300 pounds, but will be happy if he’s above 290 when spring ball begins on Feb. 28.
“I just don’t want to put on bad weight,” he said.
Barrington married his high school sweetheart, Hannah Click, last June. She works at Veritas Funding in Orem to help Campbell fulfill his dream of starring for BYU and then playing in the NFL, all while pursuing her degree from Washington State University online.
“She’s been really supportive,” he said.