April 15, 2014
Auburn's Peyton Barber makes his move in spring practice (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Peyton Barber is learning the Xs and Os of being an Auburn running back through the lens of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.
The redshirt freshman volunteered he has been dealing with both after Tuesday's spring practice, but neither has slowed him from battling for the starting tailback job nor from being a good student.
Who says so? His running backs coach.
"It's really unbelievable how well he's done," says Tim Horton. "You look at how he's doing academically this semester, he has a 3.84 GPA. It's just a testimony to his work ethic. He's done the same things on the football field.
"His work ethic is really unparalleled in terms of the effort he puts in to be successful academically and on the field."
Barber said he works to learn the plays. "It takes me a little bit longer." But Horton says he makes sure Barber stays on top of his game.
"There aren't very many plays when he's not getting a rep mentally," Horton said.
"Spring," Barber said, "is definitely going good for me."
Barber said he learned he had ADHD in high school. He said he was told he had dyslexia about four months ago. He keeps neither a secret. He said he told Auburn coaches of his ADHD during the recruiting process.
"That was one of the first things we talked about," Barber said. "Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee said we can work past that. That was one of my biggest things coming into it."
Horton says he isn't surprised that Barber is willing to take an extra step to get past issues, not after the running back volunteered to go play for the scout team offense last year to make sure the first-team defense had somebody with moves to pound on.
"There are a lot of running backs who don't have a particular fire to go get hit and beat on on the scout team, but that was something he wanted to do," Horton said. "He went down there and gave them a great picture."
Barber made the move around midseason once Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant had established themselves as front-line running backs.
"Once we saw for sure he was going to get redshirted, that's when he went down there and did a magnificent job," Horton said.
Barber is in the midst of a running back race with Artis-Payne and Grant.
"I can't really be worried about that at the moment," Barber said.
He said he's "just staying in my playbook and getting plays down."
Mason said late last season that Barber might be the best running back on the team.
"It's a blessing having Tre say that about me," Barber said. "I guess the reason he said that is I try to do my best every day in practice improve and really show people what I can do."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer on AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine