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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 4 The First Look There may not be a more serious person in Purdue's locker room on Saturdays during football season than Kirk Barron. Unless it's Markus Bailey. Purdue's anchors on offense — Barron has started 26 consecutive games at center — and defense — Bailey, only a junior, is entering his third year as a starter, too — are exactly what the program needs: Two fierce, focused perfectionists intent on being great. Sometimes those approaches can butt heads. Almost literally. Charles Jischke / Purdue Athletics During one practice in the spring, Barron and Bailey actually fought after Bailey cracked Barron hard on a play. They stood nose to nose. "In my mind, I'm like, 'I can't let him do that,' so I threw a punch at him," Barron said. "We just started punching each other. Obviously, you can't do anything because we had helmets on ... and we're really good friends." Barron laughed, liking how he slow-played the story. Telling stories and cracking jokes is kind of Barron's thing, when he's not on the field. He has a quick word for everyone, including his good buddy Bailey, who has an easy smile but also generally is more serious than Barron off the field. That kind of dynamic was the plan for a photo shoot with the pair: Showing Bailey's cool approach vs. Barron's playful demeanor. And it produced a dynamic shot with Barron's impressive leap, one that had Barron declaring himself the most athletic offensive lineman in the country. Even Bailey had to offer kudos. "I will give Kirk credit — he's really athletic," Bailey said. "I can't say 100 percent he's the most athletic in the country. But he's very athletic, especially for a big fella." Could Bailey pull off such a move? "I can probably jump over him without touching him," he said with a smile. One more dig for the road. "We always give each other trash," Bailey said. "We go at each other and stuff." Just like when Barron showed up at Bailey's cover shoot days later and made fun of Bailey for lifting weights to get his muscles prepped for the photos and, then, offered a backhanded compliment that Bailey didn't look like a middle school linebacker anymore. "I'm messing with him," Barron said. "I love Markus. That's my guy. He takes care of his body pretty well."

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