Senior Stories: Football's Derrick Barker
Preseason All-American cornerback Derrick Barker is a three-year starter for the Crimson. Exceptionally athletic, Derrick is also a talker and sat down with us to discuss all things Harvard ... and Atlanta.
"At times, Derrick can be the toughest corner to beat in the Ivy League," states Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football. "One thing that really impresses me about Derrick is that despite the level of commitment it takes to be a Division 1 athlete, he has taken advantage of his opportunities as a student at Harvard and he will have the opportunities to show for it."
Q: What is your concentration?
A: Sociology. It is the best concentration in the world. I basically study whatever issue or topic that I am interested in.
Q: How has Harvard football prepared you for life?
A: Football has prepared me in so many ways that I cannot cover that question in this space. I have been playing football since I was four years old so it is an ingrained part of my identity. Of all of the many lessons that football has taught me though, there are a few that have helped me a lot through the past years. First, life isn't fair and it doesn't care about your excuses. Everyone has 1,000 reasons why they should fail. You may be held or you may have slipped or you may have a really sore ankle but the only thing that matters at the end of the game is did you make the play and win, or did your opponent? That mindset helps me to push myself further and to do more in school and in extracurricular activities. In football, in school, in business, in everything - I know that I have to outwork my opponents every day so that when the time comes, regardless of the adversity I may be facing, I am prepared to make plays.
Q: What are the best parts of being a student-athlete here?
A: The people. I have gotten to know some of the most amazing people in the world. I love being able to hang out with my teammates and classmates as well. And winning. I love winning and we have done a lot of it.
Q: What are the best parts of just being a student here?
A: The people and the opportunities. I have had the opportunity to do things that I would have never even known about if I were not here. The world is literally at your fingertips here - all you have to do is reach out and go after what you want. And on top of all the opportunity, I get to live and work with some really cool and smart people.
Q: Why did you choose Harvard?
A: I wanted to have an opportunity to contribute early in my career and win championships. I have been fortunate enough to do both. Also the education speaks for itself. There is no better academic institution than Harvard.
Q: What is your best moment on the football field?
A: Beating Yale my junior and sophomore years for an Ivy championship was amazing. I don't think there is a better feeling than that. But my old coach used to say that the most important play is the next play and as long as I still have football to play I'd like to think that my best moment on the field is yet to come. I have had the opportunity to play with great players and on great defenses but I still have the rest of the games this season and being able to go on that field with my teammates is the best thing I can ask for in football.
Q: What is the best dining in Harvard Square?
A: Nochs- the Philly cheesestake with mushrooms is the best meal you can get at Harvard.
Q: Blackberry, Treo, Cell phone, or land-line?
A: Land-line? What is that? Definitely Blackberry. Bbm is revolutionizing the texting experience and there is nothing better than the Verizon network.
Q: Its Two Hours Before Kickoff. What's on your iPod?
A: Either old school or underground Atlanta rap. I love playing underground southern music. It reminds me of home.
Q; Which of your teammates is most likely to...
...play in the NFL?
A: James Williams
...Become a college football coach?
A: He technically isn't a teammate anymore but Andrew Berry. He loves football and would be a great coach.
....be elected President?
A: Nobody. Facebook would ruin anyone' campaign.
....join the circus?
A: Josue Ortiz. It's probably where he's meant to be anyway.
Q: Do you attend Harvard sporting events other than football
games? If so, which teams do you support the most?
A: I love watching basketball. I watch track meets sometimes too. I think the basketball team is going to have a breakout season this year.
Q: What are you most and least favorite road trips?
A: Most favorite is Penn. Always a good game, far enough away to get a nap in, watch a movie or two and just chill with your teammates on the bus. Plus they have a nice stadium and the weather is usually not that bad. My least favorite is Dartmouth. My first two times going up there have been the worst weather games in my career. Plus they haven't been very exciting games either.
Q: What has been your favorite class at Harvard?
A: Sociology of Education. I think that everyone should have to take it. It is a disgrace how terrible our education system is, particularly in low-income communities. It was really interesting exploring why things are so bad and what kind of solutions may help.
Q: Favorite Professor?
A: I don't know, there are a lot of good ones. Probably Orlando Patterson.
Q: What's the best part about a home football day?
A: I just love playing in our stadium. I love seeing our home fans get excited and really get into the game.
Q: Give Us Your Top 5 Movies of all time.
Q: What are the best and worst football movies ever made?
A: Waterboy, Remember the Titans, and Any Given Sunday were good. I think Playmakers was, um, not good. It wasn't a movie but it was bad.
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
A: Plenty, but if I reveal them then they won't be hidden anymore. One that has been hidden that I want to let everyone know about is that I can sing really well, it's just that I'm tone deaf.
Q: I hear that you love talking about HOTlanta. Lay it out for
us: What's so great about ATL, besides The Varsity?
A: Everything. The weather, the girls, the culture, the football, the people. It's just a great place to grow up. People are happy there... definitely the best city in the world.
Q: What is the best part about living in Leverett House?
A: My blockmates. They are amazing. Also we have had a lot of good football players live in Leverett over the years. Clifton Dawson, Steve Williams, Brad Bagdis, and Andrew Berry just to name a few.
Q: You started games at cornerback since your sophomore year.
What was it like to be named a preseason All-American by CDS,
following in the footsteps of so many great DBs here from Stephen
Williams and Doug Hewlett to Andrew Berry?
A: It has been a great honor. Those were all great players; it was an honor playing with them and it's an honor to be mentioned in the same context as them. I remember my first start in my freshman year against Cornell, before the game, an upper classman, BJ Merriweather, told me that if I stopped being a YAB that I could be just as good as them. I am just glad that someone thinks that I've stopped being a YAB!
Q: Who is the next great cornerback at Harvard and why?
A: We have a lot of good young corners from Niko Amaro to Brian Owuso. I think that Matt Hanson, Brian Owusu, and DJ Monroe all have great careers in front of them if things go well.
Q: What sports did your father play at Morehouse? Your
grandfather at Prairie View A&M?
A: My father was a four year starter on the football team and my grandfather played baseball for Prairie View, and football for the army.