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Oklahoma State football: The (re)making of Calvin Barnett

SEC DEFENSIVE TACKLES — Oklahoma State's Calvin Barnett came out of Tulsa Washington as very big one. After a junior college detour and some reshaping from head to toe, Barnett has emerged as the kind of defensive lineman who would thrive anywhere.
By GINA MIZELL Modified: August 29, 2013 at 9:00 am •  Published: August 25, 2013

Eighth grade is when Calvin Barnett began to develop into a legitimate defensive tackle.

He had grown to 6-foot-2, the same height he is today. And he started football season at 230 pounds.

By the end of the season, he was 280 pounds.

“I just got wide,” Barnett said. “And then I got wider and wider in high school. I never got taller. I just got bigger and bigger.”

Today, Barnett is a powerful, athletic and disruptive force in the middle of the Oklahoma State defense — the kind of impact defensive tackle commonly found in the SEC and that the Cowboys haven't had in a decade. He's the reigning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, a preseason all-conference selection and a realistic candidate to take home league's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013.

But first, Barnett needed to go through a bit of a physical transformation.

Barnett admits now he was lackadaisical and cocky in high school after earning starting jobs on the offensive and defensive lines as a freshman.

He used asthma as a (fake) excuse to not run hard or participate in certain exercises during practice. He ate out every day of his senior year, with Chinese, buckets of fried chicken and Taco Bell becoming favorite food options.

Barnett could still move well on his feet, making him a sought-after recruit. But when he signed his letter of intent to play at Arkansas in 2010, he weighed 335 pounds. And he started to hear the rumblings that he could be an impact player only “if he got in shape.”

Academics are what kept Barnett from making it to Fayetteville. Before heading to Navarro Junior College in Texas, though, Barnett wanted to drop weight.

For 2 1/2 weeks, all he ate was a 1,200-calorie power bar three times per day. He also made a daily habit of playing basketball and working out.

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