Former San Diego State defensive end Alex Barrett played a pivotal role in SDSU's success within the Mountain West in his last two seasons on the Mesa, piloting the Aztecs' trenches to unforeseen heights.
Now, Barrett will continue to fly up the ranks in hopes of landing in the NFL, but he remains appreciative of the program that first took him off the ground.
"I feel like [SDSU] put me on the map," Barrett said. "Out of high school, I was an under the radar guy . . . It was the perfect program for me. It really just helped me shine. The coaches there preach toughness and being a tough guy on the field."
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"My choice to go to San Diego State and continue football got me to where I am today."
Barrett isn't in too bad of a spot, either.
Currently projected as a Day 3 prospect in the 2017 NFL draft, Barrett is training with EXOS in Carlsbad, Calif. in preparation for SDSU's Pro Day on Mar. 17.
At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, Barrett must work to push his elite athleticism to the surface at SDSU's Pro Day to keep NFL scouts from taking him off their list because of his small frame. He, of course, believes he is much more than the measurements tagged to his name.
"I'll be seen as undersized, but I just feel like I can provide more," Barrett said. "I'll be able to cover, drop into coverages, cover backs. [I will] just use my speed, my size, my strength, my leverage."
"I feel like I provide an overall great athlete that you'd want on your edge."
Barrett's size, or lack thereof, wasn't an issue at SDSU.
In his last three years with the Aztecs, Barrett amassed 154 combined tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.
With experience at both defensive end and defensive tackle, Barrett was a game-wrecker regardless of where he put his hand in the ground. He was at his best when rushing the passer either from the interior or along the edge, but he also proved dominant against the run.
In addition to his success on game day, Barrett was a model player at practice.
"I'm very coachable," Barrett said. "I'm a hard worker. I'm a good worker. I have great character."
Barrett, however, is just one of few people who has appeared confident in his abilities.
Joining SDSU as a two-star recruit by Rivals and Scout, Barrett received little recognition before earning his stripes on the Mesa.
"I've been challenged in so many ways," Barrett said. "I've overcome a lot of challenges. People doubted me."
Though Barrett will continue to face challenges all throughout his NFL career, only fools will continue to doubt him as he furthers his ascent.