SOUTHINGTON - In front of a packed Southington High School library, Jack Barnum made things official Wednesday afternoon and signed his Letter of Intent to play football at University at Albany. The Southington standout acted as a multi-dimensional tool for the Blue Knights, passing for over 1,900 yards with 17 passing scores while also going 42-for-47 on point after tries. He hit a season-long 45-yard field goal as well, with tries in practice going past 50 yards.
After a day of school, the anxiety and excitement swelling, Barnum was just thankful to have the moment that he celebrated with scores of classmates, family and friends finally done and official.
"I'm ready to get [the signing] over with, but I'm happy with where I am," said Barnum. "I was pretty excited because all my friends were coming and this was the talk of the day. To spend this time with my friends and to sign to a place that I really enjoy and want to call home is a really good feeling. ... To sign with these people around, they're like family, it's an awesome feeling."
When it came to the recruiting process, Central Connecticut, Wagner and Marist were among schools coming after Barnum. A trip to Albany was all it took for him to see the comradery and family first style the Great Danes have put in place, and made it an easy decision for him to call it home.
Albany football went 2-9 last season, finishing 2-7 in Mid Atlantic Athletic Conference play. Albany is a Div. I school, with its campus located in Albany, New York, which sits on the Hudson River in upstate NY. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
"Albany just stuck out, and is home. ... I walked in, and the coaching staff right off the rip was family oriented and everyone was joking with each other," said Barnum "It was just an environment I wanted to be in. Hearing from the players on the trip, and everyone at Albany loved calling it home and said [I] can succeed here." Part of Barnum's rise to success was football head coach Mike Drury, who held Barnum accountable for his miscues or if he wasn't keeping himself up to standard.
"Coach (Mike) Drury, he always pushed me and knew what I was capable of and wanted me to get there," said Barnum. "If I messed up, he would blatantly tell me 'this isn't good enough' or this and that. That really pushed me to critique myself and to hold myself to a higher standard."
Drury lauded Barnum as a great leader in the locker room, and credited him with being able to balance the difficulties of playing quarterback and acting as placekicker for the Blue Knights, while also being a role model for the program.
"He was put in some high pressure situations to make kicks to win us the game," said Drury. "... Two pressure positions (quarterback and kicker), the ball's in your hands every play and Jack was able to flourish there. When the pressure was on, he was ready. ... He had to play two big hats for us, ... there was a lot of pressure and a lot put on the shoulders of that person. To see him be one of the best leaders on the team, one of the best people on the team, ... nothing was going to be stopping him."
Barnum expects his role at Albany to be with the special teams, working with the kickers to strengthen his craft, and plans on entering camp this summer aiming to do whatever it takes to help improve the team and get a win each Saturday.
"I'm going to come in Day 1 and compete, of course. I'm going to do whatever I can for the team,” said Barnum.