AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Longhorns senior nickel back Jahdae Barron is many things, most of which fall under the classification of Barron possessing the team’s biggest personality.
Barron might spontaneously serenade the Longhorn press corps with “Texas Fight” or jump in to interview a teammate. It’s no surprise when Barron says that he’s been the “swag type” since he was little. Comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather was enough to produce an eye roll from at least one member of the media, but it drew some laughs, too. (We’ll come back to that.) A question about whether Barron thinks he’s one of the best defensive backs in the country is a true softball.
“Most definitely,” Barron said on Monday. “I love myself and obviously I speak highly of myself, so why not?”
But Barron’s addendum to that response says everything about who the Pflugerville Connally product is as a football player.
“I’ve been underrated, but that’s not gonna stop me to work.”
Some of the most important work Barron does is in the film room. Take one of the most important plays in Saturday’s upset win over Alabama as an example and also understand how that play fit into the context of another play just moments before.
It’ll help get us back to the whole Floyd Mayweather thing later.
On 1st and 10 at the Alabama 17-yard line on the Crimson Tide’s first drive, Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe checked Barron’s alignment over the No. 2 receiver to the field over five yards off the line of scrimmage before making his initial read to the boundary and then coming down to a shallow cross from that side of the field that fell incomplete. The No. 2 and No. 3 receivers ran speed outs to the field.
Four plays later, Milroe faced a 2nd and 10 from the Alabama 42-yard line behind the chains looking to get into a manageable distance on third down. With the ball on the right hash, the Crimson Tide dialed up a similar look with three receivers to the field and the tight end in line to the boundary. This time, instead of playing off the ball, Barron lined up less than three yards off the No. 3 wide receiver before taking a step back just before the snap and playing the eyes of Milroe initially.
Knowing that Alabama likes to run the speed out by the No. 3 receiver against the linebacker playing with inside leverage, Barron saw Milroe stare down his target and jumped the route after laying the trap for the inexperienced quarterback, coming up with a momentum-swinging interception that produced three points and an early lead for Texas.
So even though the No. 2 receiver was running an out and up that occupied sophomore cornerback Terrance Brooks, leaving the No. 1 receiver open on a go route up the sideline, Milroe was so intent on working the quick pass that he never went past his first read. And Milroe paid for it.
Barron’s ability to jump the speed out was a result of the film study he put in during the week, jotting down “steal” in his notebook on that particular concept. The senior nickel back didn’t expect Alabama to run the play so early, settling for setting up Milroe and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees on the constraint play to overload the field cornerback’s zone.
“Yeah, I kind of baited him,” Barron admitted.
It’s the kind of recognition that grew out of film study with defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach Terry Joseph, like one particular moment before the TCU game that Barron recalled at Big 12 Media Days in July.
“We watch film throughout the whole week and I showed him what plays I wanted to make and stuff like that, but I remember vividly we were in the hotel and he just tapped me and was like, ‘Let me show you something again,’” Barron said. “And he reminded me of this play, and it was a play Oklahoma State ran and they ran it versus (Jaylon) Guilbeau, and he said, ‘We will get this play, one time.’ And I remember it vividly we got it, 27 came to block and they threw a swing pass to No. 3...”
Jahdae Barron knew this one was coming... pic.twitter.com/gG1BFRaUaI— Unsolicited special assistant to the head coach (@Ian_A_Boyd) July 13, 2023
Barron finished his breakout 2022 season with 11 tackles for loss to lead Texas and rank in the top 10 in the Big 12 Conference.
“Coach Joseph’s been amazing for me, just to be able to help me change my alignment and disguise and stuff like that and to move me around,” Barron said on Monday.
But what was it about those “steal plays” and the whole Floyd Mayweather thing? With Barron, it all comes back together.
“I love watching film — I’m a student of the game — but I put some plays like, ‘Oh, I want to steal this one or I think I’m gonna grab this one,’ so it’s just a few plays that they run a lot. And if they run it a lot, okay, I’m gonna still let you run it a few times. It’s kind of like Floyd Mayweather, yeah? Floyd Mayweather, he plays on for like the first four rounds and then he knows and then he counters.”
With the eyes of the college football world on Tuscaloosa, Barron made it clear what his Floyd Mayweather counter looks like.