Rock Bridge junior kicker Joe Barbee returns to receiver

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:34 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 10, 2013
Joe Barbee, a junior at Rock Bridge High School, watches during practice Wednesday. Barbee is making the switch from kicker to receiver.

COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge kicker Joe Barbee lined up at receiver, waiting for the play to begin. Junior quarterback Logan Twehous took the snap, stepped back and hit 5-foot-9-inch Barbee in stride for a 25-yard gain.

It was the third straight play that Barbee caught a pass, and it was also his last catch of the night against Helias on Saturday.

On Barbee's first catch, the game announcer at Adkins Stadium stumbled trying to figure out who got the catch.

"Catch made by — No. 6," the announcer said.

Barbee was finally credited by name after his next two catches.

"Catch made by No. 6," the announcer said, then making a short pause, "that's No. 6, Joe Barbee."

The announcer may have been confused why a kicker was playing receiver.

Five months ago, Barbee would have been surprised to be playing football at all.

Barbee didn't want to play football this year. The junior multi-sport athlete wanted to take the year off to focus on baseball, where he has seen much success. But over the summer, something got to him.

"A bunch of guys were talking to me and talked me into (kicking again)," Barbee said. "Halfway through the summer, I decided I wanted to come back and kick."

Barbee started his sophomore season as a receiver and finished the year with three receptions, 38 yards and a touchdown. Coach A.J. Ofodile said Barbee's original position was receiver.

"He was a receiver who was bailing us out as a kicker last year," Ofodile said. "So he initially came back as a kicker, and that was his primary role. He's gotten stronger, faster and bigger, so his kickoffs have been a lot stronger this year. So it almost makes him look like he was (exclusively) a kicker."

Saturday against Helias, Ofodile used Barbee at receiver again. Ofodile said that Barbee approached him earlier in the season about returning to receiver.

While Barbee enjoys kicking for the team, there was something about watching the other guys play that gave him the itch to step back into the offense.

"I saw them running routes again, so I wanted to get back in it," Barbee said. "I transitioned back into it pretty quick."

Ofodile said Barbee brings much to the table as a receiver, including experience and speed. Ofodile compared Barbee to Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker in terms of speed, route-running capability and that they are both 5-foot-9-inches.

"He’s shifty and can find spots in zones," Ofodile said. "There are certain routes that Joe specializes in that he runs really well.

"We'll continue to have a niche role for him," he added. "He's a guy that has proven on several occasions that he can make plays, so we'll definitely keep him rolling."

At practice Tuesday night, Barbee lined up at receiver. Twehous took the snap and zipped the ball to Barbee, and Barbee took it for a solid gain before running out of bounds.

"Good job, Barbee," a teammate yelled.

Just like that, Barbee is back at it, but this time, he is faster, stronger and more experienced.

Barbee hasn't lost a step.

In fact, he may have gained a step.

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.

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