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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 34 his core, he's as genuine and as caring as you'll find in a person. I love that dude." When it comes to Barron's daily approach, he is very much go-with-the-flow. He doesn't take many things seriously, especially himself. At least when he's sans helmet, pads and cleats. But when he steps on the football field as Purdue's starting center, a guy who has logged more than 900 snaps each of the last two seasons, started 26 consec- utive games, griped when he has to miss practice and likely will be voted captain soon for the second consec- utive year? Then, Kirk Barron doesn't mess around. "You take football out, he's super chill, likes to have a good time, likes to be around friends. He's just one of those guys you can just hang with all day and never really get tired of," quarterback Elijah Sindelar said. "But get him on the field and …" Sindelar paused, maybe wondering if he should be cautious with his word choice. And then wasn't. "… the man is literally insane almost," said Sin- delar, laughing. "You flip the switch for football, and he's mean. He's mean on the field. I'm not going to lie. "It's cool to see that personality. I don't know if there's a word to describe that. It's something you have to experience." Football focused When the Rimington Trophy watch list came out in late May, Kirk Barron wasn't impressed that he was included. "I thought I should have been on it for, like, the past five years," Barron said of the award given to the nation's best center. "That's how I think. It wasn't a surprise to me. If I could win the Heisman, I think I should do it. I had a meeting with (O-line) Coach (Dale) Williams, and he asked me my goals, and I said, 'I just think I'm the best center in the country. Simple as that.' He said, 'All right, we've got to work for it.' "I know a lot of people probably think I'm cocky. I'm really not. I just think I'm the best player to ever play center. Ever. That's just how I think. If you don't think that way, you're not going to survive at all. I'm going to come here and say the kid from Wisconsin is better than me? No way. I think it's because he plays for Wis- consin, that's why (people say) he's better. Or Ohio State, that's why he's better. That's where I'm think- ing, 'Why can't there be kids from Purdue who are better?' I just think that's how everyone should think, especially if you're going to play a violent sport like football." Confidence has never been a trait that's been diffi- cult to summon for Barron. After he committed to Purdue, he publicly said his goal was to take the starting center spot. The problem? It was manned by multi-year starter and senior cap- tain Robert Kugler. Ultimately, Barron redshirted that first season, but Kugler isn't surprised how Barron has developed, into a steady starter, into a captain, into a vocal leader. "He had the talent. He was good when he got there," said Kugler, now a graduate assistant at the University of Washington. "He obviously wasn't as vocal when I was there, just because he was younger, but you could see he had that in him, and his friends and the young guys would listen to him. You could see he had that ability going forward." Barron's confidence wasn't entirely baseless then. And isn't now. He works like he wants to be the best, too. He has stayed on campus for Maymester to train at Purdue every year except this one — when he went to Boca Raton, Fla., instead for nearly a month to work out at XPE Sports. He has spent spring breaks in Florida, too, but not for the reasons one might think: He used them to train at Bommarito's or XPE. Mostly, though, he likes to lock in at Purdue's facility, especially now with its new state-of-the-art, massive weight room. Even when friends ask if Barron wants to head to Chi- cago for a weekend, he's hesitant to say "yes" because it'd mean he'd go without lifting. And it's good for the Boilermakers to see him work, too. Even if he can annoy director of strength and con- ditioning Justin Lovett, at times, because Barron has a hard time accepting limits. "I think whatever he's focused on, if it's the weight room, if it's football, it's all in, it's almost maybe tun- nel vision. It's super intense. Arguably, over the top, at least the parts of him that I see," Lovett said of Bar- ron, who has been one of the team's strongest play- ers since he stepped on campus. "I like it. I think it's

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