Oregon State's Hit Man
Sept. 19, 2002
By Kip CarlsonOregon State sports information
When you're dealing with Nick Barnett, the hits just keep on coming - both on and off the field.
The senior linebacker for Oregon State was among the Pacific-10 leaders in tackles last season and earned all-conference honorable mention. When he's done playing games, Barnett heads for work.
Saturday nights after Beaver home games, you'll likely find Barnett DJing at one of the parties he promotes with teammate Shamon Jamerson.
'Just West Coast music, like Snoop Dogg, Jada Kiss ... I play a lot of stuff,' Barnett said. 'Whatever's hot at the time, I'll play. Whatever people want to hear. I'm the DJ - I'll play whatever you want.'
That's also been true on the field. Barnett has made his name at linebacker, but he was moved to strong safety for his freshman season.
'I like them both - whatever you want me to play, I can play,' said the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Fontana, Calif. 'There are two different mentalities there. When you're playing linebacker, you're in the trenches - you've got to deal with 300-some pounds each play. At safety, you're back there and you've still got to come up (to help stop the run), but you don't have to deal with them every play. It's a totally different mentality.'
Barnett made his first impression on most Beaver fans against San Diego State in 2000 with a pair of fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. That 35-3 win over the Aztecs at Reser Stadium got OSU rolling on its way to a share of the Pac-10 championship and a final national ranking of No. 4.
'I think everybody got going in that game,' Barnett said. 'DeLawrence (Grant) had a couple fumbles caused, I think Eric (Manning) might have had a fumble caused. People were just causing turnovers, and I happened to be around the ball to pick one up and I was happy to be in the end zone on that one. Everybody was excited for that game.'
Perhaps Barnett's biggest game came in a 19-10 home win over California last season. Barnett was in on 18 tackles and hurried the passes of Bear quarterbacks four times.
'I knew I was in on a lot of tackles, but I didn't know it was that many,' Barnett said. 'I was just playing like all the other games; it was just the plays came my way. Either the play came my way, or they called my number on the blitz and I got in there. It was just a regular game, it was just that finally the ball came my way.'
Barnett on the strong side, Richard Seigler in the middle and Erik Tuma on the weak side form potentially one of the finest linebacking corps in the nation. Barnett and Seigler are in their third year of playing alongside one another.
'It's a big help, because you have people you have confidence in,' Barnett said. 'You're just out there vibing with each other. He (Seigler) will be juiced off of one play, he'll be excited and that will make me excited. So then I get excited, and it starts to cycle around the whole defense.'
Pretty soon, the Beaver defense is competing to see who's going to make the next big play.
'That's exactly what's going down,' Barnett said. 'Everybody has a bet before the game - who's going to make the most tackles, or who's going to make the most sacks, or who's going to make the most big plays in the game. It's a competition between everybody.'
One reason Oregon State's defense went into the season ranked as one of the best in the conference - if not the country- was the return of eight starters. That pays off not just in game experience, but in knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses - an even bigger advantage for an aggressive defense like the Beavers'.
'It's that familiarity,' Barnett said. 'Everybody's familiar with each other, everybody's vibing off each other because you've played with them. You probably know what he's going to do in this situation and you can play right off of him.'
That's led to some big goals for Barnett's final season of college football.
'Like everybody on this team, I want to see us win a national title,' Barnett said. 'I want to see the defense dominate out there ... I just want to see us win every game. My individual goal is to lead this team in tackles, and just play every down 110 percent.'
At A.B. Miller High School, Barnett was first-team all-league at safety and also played wide receiver as a junior; as a senior, he played tight end and linebacker but had his season ended by an injury with four games left on the schedule. In track and field, he was a league champion in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and runner-up in the 110 high hurdles; he also competed in the discus and javelin and had a 3.8 grade point average.
He was recruited by Iowa State, Nevada-Las Vegas and San Jose State before choosing OSU.
'I felt Oregon State was in the Pac-10, there was Coach (Dennis) Erickson, and Corvallis just seemed like a place where I could focus on my studies,' Barnett said. 'It just seemed like the best place for me to be successful.
'Luckily, I got up here to a university where I could experience diversity. It's not that diverse here, but it's a diversity for me coming up here; it's different for me. I was blessed with that opportunity.'
When Barnett arrived in Corvallis, he kept up one of his avocations.
'I've been throwing parties sine I was in junior high school,' Barnett said. 'And they've always been successful, so I just kept doing it. Everybody would ask, 'When's the next party?' So it's like, 'Okay, I'll put on another party.'
'The next thing you know, I've got turntables and I became good at that, so I became the DJ and the promoter.'
The nocturnal gatherings aren't just a party for Barnett, though - they're an education. His major in Business Administration comes in handy as he's making arrangements for the venue, promoting the party and making sure everything goes smoothly.
'We do everything,' Barnett said. 'You major in Business and try to start a business as you're doing it. Hopefully, everything goes all right.'
That could play into some post-graduation plans.
'I might try to open up a club or something like that,' Barnett said. 'I don't know - I do a lot of things. My option (within the major) is Marketing, so I might do some kind of marketing, which goes in with the promoting.'
Speaking of which, Barnett had one last message for Beaver fans:
'Tell them,' Barnett said, 'Party coming up after the first home game after school starts.'