Texan Taylor Takes On Linebacker Spot
Former Rebel QB Barnhill enjoying move to defense during spring.
March 23, 2012
LAS VBGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The first full week of full pads closed on Friday as the UNLV football team practiced under overcast skies at Rebel Park on campus.
"We're 40 percent done with spring ball and it's been really good so far," said third-year head coach Bobby Hauck. "It's worlds different than where we were during our first spring here so we're excited."
One player seeing plenty of time but wearing a new color jersey this spring is former quarterback Taylor Barnhill. The big Texan has traded in the gold QB jersey for a red one during practice as he moved to linebacker in anticipation of what will be his sophomore season.
"I'm loving it," said the graduate of Northwest High School in Justin, Texas. "It's full speed and more physical, but that's how I am so I think I fit better over there. I played a little bit (of defense) in high school, but I was the quarterback so they didn't let me play both ways."
Barnhill, who rushed for 85 yards and passed for 102, started two games under center in 2011, leading the Rebels at New Mexico and at TCU. But with three other QBs on the current Rebel roster, the impressive athlete instead concentrated on bulking up for the big switch.
"I really had to hit the weights hard and start eating more. I was about 225 (pounds) when I left (for semester break) and came back at 240. I came back and I had to eat, run and get in shape. It was a lot more intense of an offseason." Barnhill said he looks forward to now chasing the man with the ball instead of being him.
"You got to take it on. You can't have any fears. You just have to take on the tackle, get it off and look for the ball. So it's a little different but I'm getting used to it pretty quickly," he said. "I just want to see the field. That's all I'm trying to do and why I made the move. I want to see the field. I want to play and contribute to the team."
Barnhill was already proving to be versatile as he practiced at H-back and even lined up on kickoffs as a rookie. His head coach originally announced Barnhill would get a long look at H-back in 2012 but there ended up being a more pressing need on defense.
"Taylor is learning a new position and it's going to take some time to grow into it because he's flipping sides of the ball," said Hauck. "He runs well, has a fluid motion and is learning as fast as he can. We were short at linebackers and need some numbers there. Linebacker is a unique position and you have to have hope of success if you move a player into that spot -- and Taylor certainly has that."
UP NEXT The Rebels' next practice will be Monday. All spring dates this year are scheduled to run from 3:45 to 6:00 pm and are open to the public. The Spring Showcase is set for Friday evening, April 20 at Rebel Park.
UNLV 2012 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC PLEASE NOTE: ALL DATES AND TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE