|The recruiting process can be a tough thing to go through. Athletes who think
they know where they are going to college as 17-year-olds may change their
minds several times before they become 18-year-old adults. But some kids just
Dominique Barber (Dom to his friends) remembers the moment when he knew he wanted to be a University of Minnesota his older brother Marion Barber III had just started his freshman year with the Gophers. "When he went to the Gophers in 2001," Dom recalls, "I wondered, 'Will I be able to attend the University?'"
Three years later, his answer was an unwavering yes. The Wayzata High School senior was one of seven Minnesotans to sign national letters of intent with the Gophers on Feb. 4.
FOOTBALL PLAYER ON SKATES
But Barber didn't turn into a weight room fanatic after his high sch football career ended in early November (that will come in the spring). Dom instead enjoyed his final year of high school hockey—a sport he has a true passion for. "I started playing when I was four or five years old. [Wayzata teammate] Mike Crees and I lived in the same neighborhood and he got me interested," explains Barber.
Barber has excelled. Playing left wing on Wayzata's third line, he still manages to be one of the Trojans' leading goal scorers on a very deep team. Many of his current teammates were on a Wayzata state championship Bantam team two years ago, a club that also included Breck School standout Blake Wheeler, one of the best high school players in the country. At 6 feet and 195 pounds, Barber is good-sized without looking like a football player on skates.
"I think he would be a great college hockey player," says Trojans' head hockey coach Carl Davis. "His intensity for the game is great and he competes so hard. He's a tremendous forechecker who sets the tone for our team. He gives us scorer."
Barber made his verbal commitment to the Gophers public in September and Davis wondered if he might lose his talented winger for hockey season.
The coach asked Dom if he was still planning to come out for hockey. "I think I caught him by surprise," Davis said. "I don't think not playing hockey this year ever crossed his mind."
RISK OF INJURY
Barber admits now though that he did consider skipping hockey to avoid the risk of injury for college football. It was his father however, Marion Barber, Jr. who convinced him he should play. "My dad said that if you play thinking you'll get injured, you probably will," Barber said. "Just go out there and have fun."
With Barber's help, the Trojans "fun" season has included a top10 ranking in Class AA all season, a Classic Lake Conference championship, and a shot at becoming the first Wayzata hockey team to advance to the state tournament in 50 year together for so long."
"He's just a good athlete," says Robbinsdale Armstrong hockey coach Greg Aslackson, a refrain heard often when people are asked about Barber. "He's got a good shot, good speed—a very good hockey player."
"You watch him play and you see the passion that he has for the game," Davis adds.
THE GOPHER-BARBER CONNECTION
But it is football where his athletic talents will take him in college. As a senior at Wayzata he split his time between running back, defensive back, and kick returner—without complaint. "Dom was an extremely team-oriented player," says Wayzata football coach Brad Anderson, who also coached Dom's brother "MBIII" at Wayzata. "Being a senior and one of the best running backs in the state, he could have said 'This is where I want to play.' But Dom was willing to play wherever we needed him."
Barber was named second-team All-State. It's at d Gophers plan to use him.
"It really doesn't matter to me," says Barber of becoming a full-time defender. "I'm hoping that I can fit in the mix that Coach [Glen] Mason is trying to build over there. I want to try to be an impact player as soon as I can."
At Minnesota, he'll follow his brother and father—both All-Big Ten running backs—as he continues the Gopher-Barber connection. "My brother and I are pretty close. We talk just about every day on the phone. To see him every day will be nice … I can't say enough how excited I am to play in fron home town, my home state. It's just awesome."
"I think his best days are ahead of him," says Anderson of Barber's football career.
But the hockey skates will be in the trunk. Just in case.