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Boys Town's Barrett 
a Big Hit with Broncos

Copyright The Associated Press

This article is written by Marjie Ducey, World-Herald staff writer. It ​was posted October 17, 2015 at

Words can’t explain, Dominick Barrett says, how he feels when he turns on the TV and sees older brother Shaquil playing football for the Denver Broncos.

That’s the same big brother who lets him know when he misses a tackle that he needs to get lower or get off his block faster.

Despite all the demands of a family and playing in the NFL, Shaquil Barrett watches videotape of his little brother’s games, too.

Dom plays for Boys Town, following Shaquil and their older brother Kevin, who is now a family teacher at the school. The Barretts came from Baltimore, from a family of five football-playing brothers and one sister.

Dom is a junior offensive and defensive lineman for the Cowboys, 8-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class C-1.

“He’s doing pretty good,” Shaquil said.

So is Shaquil.

Last Sunday, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound outside linebacker had seven tackles, five solo, and forced a fumble in the Broncos’ 16-10 win over Oakland.

He’s played in all five Bronco wins, collecting 13 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He earned a shot at playing time with a strong preseason, tying the league high with four sacks and making a team-high 16 total tackles (13 solo).

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak says Barrett will start Sunday against Cleveland if DeMarcus Ware can’t play because of a back injury.

“He continues to play well and plays well on special teams,” Kubiak said.

With every tackle, Barrett is winning over more fans at Boys Town. Dom said his brother is a big thing on campus.

“Everybody looks up to him that plays football,” Dom Barrett said. “They see he made it into the NFL from Boys Town, and he gives all the football players hope that they can make it.”

Shaquil Barrett is actually the first Cowboy in coach Kevin Kush’s 20 years to make it to 
the pros.

He isn’t even the most athletic of the three Barrett boys Kush has coached. That label, Kush said, goes to Kevin, a three-time state champion wrestler who played several positions for the Cowboys from 2006 to 2010.

Shaquil and Kevin, inseparable as kids, talk or text every day, or play some PlayStation 4 when they get a chance.

Visit the home of Kevin and his wife, Ashley, and you’ll likely find Broncos games on TV on fall Sundays, even though Kevin favors the Dallas Cowboys.

“I enjoy watching him play,” Kevin said. “I brag about him and point him out.”

Shaquil wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, but Kush said the talent was there. He blocked six kicks from the defensive line as a senior, which Kush said isn’t easy.

At the 2010 Shrine Bowl practices, Kush remembers Class A players talking about Barrett and how tough he was to block. He was the game’s defensive MVP.

“His big asset is his quickness,” Kush said. “I knew right then he was going to do something special in college.”

Barrett walked on at UNO since it was close to home. He quickly earned a scholarship, won the starting job at middle linebacker in 2010 and posted some impressive stats: 82 tackles, including 11½ for loss, 8½ sacks, three forced fumbles and four blocked kicks.

But then UNO dropped football in 2011, leaving Barrett scrambling.

Kush remembers calling a coach at Nebraska, telling him Barrett would be a big asset. Nothing happened, and Barrett eventually landed at Colorado State.

He starred at linebacker and defensive end for the Rams, ending his three-year career there with 246 tackles (116 solo), 18 sacks, 32½ tackles for loss, three interceptions, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and six pass breakups.

In 2013, he was voted the Mountain West defensive player of the year, earned New Mexico Bowl defensive MVP honors and was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game. He signed with the Broncos as a free agent in May 2014, then toiled last year on the practice squad.

People told him throughout his college career that he could play in the pros. But it wasn’t easy switching schools and seeming to switch positions almost every year.

“It took a long, unusual journey,” Barrett said. “It all worked out in the long run. It’s a dream come true.”

Shaquil won’t turn 23 until next month. But Kush said he’s a quick learner with good social skills, willing to listen and accept feedback.

He’s his own toughest critic, always trying to improve the small details.

Kush hopes Shaquil will share his message with his old team at Boys Town when he gets the chance. Barrett, the coach said, knows well the challenges that face Boys Town kids, like being away from home and being held accountable all the time.

He’s a humble guy, Kush said, who hasn’t let his NFL success go to his head.

Barrett received a three-year, $1.5 million contract from the Broncos, helping him provide for his wife, Jordanna, and their three kids.

He did admit to making one big purchase, a Mercedes-Benz.

“It’s my one splurge. Then I’m going to save for the next four or five years,” he said. “I’m going to save for the future, because you never know.”

To determine how a Boys Town graduate has done, Kush said, look five or 10 years down the road. Barrett can be deemed a success.

“You can put a check mark next to him,” Kush said. “He’s done really well.”