How often does a person fill his or her breakfast place when all of a sudden, a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion comes over to talk?
For former USF linebacker Sam Barrington, the unlikely situation happened.
Barrington was with his family in Orlando, when he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers as the 232nd overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Now, a few weeks into camp, Barrington recalls his first interaction with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in line in the breakfast room of the Packers facility.
“I was just getting an omelette and he said, ‘You “trying to get yourself some carbs there, huh?’” Barrington said. “That was pretty cool.”
While the 22-year-old’s first interaction with the former Super Bowl MVP was described simply as “cool,” it was the NFL draft that left Barrington at almost a loss for words. Well, he had one word.
“Happy,” Barrington said. “I don’t think there are any other words to describe it than happy.”
Who wouldn’t be happy after getting drafted to the NFL, let alone one of the most legendary franchises in football?
But Barrington wasn’t a first round pick, nor was he a second or even a third, like former USF teammate Kayvon Webster. Barrington had to wait for his name, and for some, that pressure could be tough to deal with.
“You get so caught up in the process, then you realize this is something you’ve been waiting your whole life for, so I always told myself regardless of the results that I would be happy,” Barrington said.
Coming off a rough season with the Bulls, one especially rough for the defense, Barrington’s name was still heard as he put up career stats in nearly every category.
Starting in 11 games as a senior, Barrington recorded 49 solo tackles with 31 assists, two forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks for a total of 28 yards for a loss — all career highs for the 6 foot-1, 246-pound linebacker.
And if his future in the NFL reflects his collegiate career, then he is certainly on the rise. Since his freshman year at USF, the Jacksonville native has improved in solo tackles, assists and sacks with each season.
Though his college days are behind, Barrington said he found the NFL Draft reminiscent of his experience choosing colleges coming out of Terry Parker High School.
“It’s almost like getting into college,” he said. “You know what teams are interested in you, but you never know what’s going to happen. You see guys that they say will go Top 10, but that never happens, it’s just crazy. You just have to be cool, you have to be ready when your name is called, and if it doesn’t get called, be ready for whatever opportunity comes.”
The opportunity to play in the NFL wasn’t given only to Barrington in the draft. Four rounds after Webster, former USF quarterback B.J. Daniels was taken five picks after Barrington.
“B.J. was, like, my best friend at USF,” Barrington said. “Not only was I grateful for him but I was happy because I know that the San Francisco 49ers got a great person and one heck of a football player. Also Kayvon, seeing him go and put himself in the position that he did — I’m happy for him as well.”
Barrington said the draft itself fascinated him.
“I watched the whole draft not just for my name, but to see where other guys ended up, and I was just interested in the whole draft process,” Barrington said. “I think it would be like that even if I wasn’t playing ball. It’s amazing how guys can go from playing all four years, three years, sometimes five, of college to playing in the NFL.”
But after the seventh round of the draft was over, Barrington started his profession by boarding a plane to Wisconsin.
“I was in the mindset that I was ready to come in and get to work,” he said. “I had my headphones in listening to music. I was just really looking forward to how things were going to be.”
One of biggest stops Barrington made in Wisconsin was Lambeau field, where the Packers play.
“I see this place just as iconic as any other of the monumental places on this planet, and that’s just the God’s honest truth.” Barrington said. “So much history has gone on here with the Green Bay Packers and now to be a part of it is an honor.”
It isn’t just history that Barrington is joining, it’s an NFL powerhouse. The Packers went 15-1 in the 2011-12 season — a franchise high — and finished 11-5 last season.
From Tampa to the small town of Green Bay, which Barrington describes as the “college town of the NFL,” and from eating breakfast with his USF teammates to having friendly conversation with Aaron Rodgers over an omelet, for Barrington, the only concern is learning. It’s studying and improving to the point where he can make contributions to the team as soon as possible.
“For the most part, being a rookie, you try to stay in your zone and take care of what you have to take care of,” he said. “I’m getting in the rotation. The most important thing is learning as quickly as I can and adjusting as quickly as I can because I just want to be able to contribute as quickly as I can.”