With this in mind, Cartersville’s starting quarterback, Brooks Barden, decided to commit Thursday night to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers so that he can now focus on the 2013 Purple Hurricanes’ season.
“It just looked like the best fit.” Barden said of the UNC-Charlotte program. “They run a similar offense to what we run, a spread offense, and they like to throw the ball around a lot and I like that.”
Barden was planning on making the decision before the beginning of the 2013 season.
“I’m definitely happy with the decision and happy to get it over with so I could focus on my senior year,” he said. “It’s out of the way now, so I’ve just been working hard this summer and my teammates and I are really excited to get the pads on.”
Brooks’ father and head coach, Frank, also encouraged his son to make the decision when he did.
“He’s glad to get it behind him where he can concentrate on his senior year because that’s what he’s looking forward to,” Frank Barden said of Brooks. “We had talked about it. With the quarterback position there’s only one that usually gets signed per team. It’s not like a different position where the team signs two or three, so it’s something most of them do by the end of July.”
Barden was recuperating from a shoulder injury that kept him out of spring workouts, but was still able to draw interest from coaches thanks to a strong junior season.
In that season, he led the Purple Hurricanes to a perfect regular season, 10-0 record, the Region 5-AAA championship and to the Class AAA state semifinals.
He threw for 2,870 yards and 39 touchdowns, while rushing for 417 yards.
UNC-Charlotte will bring back its football program after a 64-season absence in 2013. The program will join Conference USA in 2015 and the prospects of beginning a new tradition was very appealing to Barden.
“They have a new coach and a new staff, and it is just real intriguing to go into the start of a new program,” he said. “The coach, [Brad Lambert], pretty much said they have one guy signed at quarterback, and he said I’m going to have the opportunity to come in and compete for the starting job.”
“We are talking about red-shirting a year because [Lambert] said we could go 11-0 playing the teams we play before we are in Conference USA. If I redshirt, then I could play four years in Conference USA.”
Barden said he was not looking for the place where he could play the soonest, but a program he could have confidence in.
“One thing I was worried about is that it’s a new program and going into a new conference. I was worried about if they’ll be able to compete in Conference USA,” he said of UNC-Charlotte. “All the people that my dad talked to said that they are doing things right up there. They’re a top-notch program and they’re going to be right up there at the top of the conference when they get there.”
He is also intrigued by the city of Charlotte.
“Everything we heard about Charlotte is that it’s a great town, and it’s beautiful up there,” Barden said. “It’s a little bit closer to home than the others. I’ve really heard all good thing about the city.”
Barden said he also was offered scholarships by Arkansas State University and the University of Massachusetts.
He was additionally receiving interest from the University of Louisville.
“I was getting those looks and talking to schools and they’ll tell you what you want to hear, but until they make that offer, it doesn’t mean anything,” Barden said. “The only big school that had a shot at offering was Louisville. The coach came down and talked to me and said I was No. 1 on his board, but I was ready to commit to UNC-Charlotte.”
Frank Barden is pleased to see his son commit to play college football.
“It’s a goal of his that he’s had for a very long time,” Barden said. “Like I say with all of our players, it’s just a reward of their hard work and efforts.”