AUBURN, Ala. — Peyton Barber was sitting in class a few months ago when a familiar problem surfaced.
"I was reading and the words would come off the page and then I would start reading backward," the Auburn tailback said Tuesday. "I was wondering what was going on and I had always had that problem, so I went and talked to one of the counselors about it and they said, 'We'll get you tested.'"
Barber, who was diagnosed with ADHD in high school, found out he also has dyslexia, a fairly common combination.
Learning what was wrong came as a relief, but not much of a surprise to Barber. He said his father also has dyslexia.
The redshirt freshman told Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on his official recruiting visit that he had ADHD. They assured him Auburn would help him work through it.
Like most freshmen, Barber's head was swimming when he started trying to absorb the playbook during the frenzied grind of preseason camp. It was even more challenging for him to process all that information in the compressed time frame.
"Everything was moving so fast and I didn't really have a chance to sit down and think about stuff," Barber said.
With a strong backfield already, Auburn was able to redshirt him.
Now, Barber said the key is spending plenty of time studying his playbook and working with support staffer Bobby Bentley.
Barber is in the mix with Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant as the Tigers seek a replacement for Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason.
It's a battle that could carry over into August with the addition of prized recruit Roc Thomas and fellow freshman Kamryn Pettway. There are plenty of carries to go around since the nation's top running team had four players rush for 600-plus yards, including quarterback Nick Marshall.
A season working on the scout team appears to have benefited Barber, who will make his debut before fans at Saturday's spring game.
"I think Peyton Barber has really gotten a lot of reps, which is really good for him," Lashlee said. "Boy, you can tell the redshirt year was good for him and that he's a lot more confident in himself. He'll still make a bust every now and then, but he's still a true freshman. He's getting better and better every day, and the reps have been great for him."
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Barber was a neighbor and high school teammate of Tigers defensive end Carl Lawson in Alpharetta, Ga. Lawson, who logged significant playing time as a freshman, said the whole team has confidence in the young runner.
"I know what type of back he is and everybody else on the team knows what type of back he is," Lawson said. "You can ask anybody. Great player."
Barber has definitely made a strong impression on Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker, who said "the sky's the limit" for the tailback.
"Peyton Barber is a great guy," Whitaker said. "He is a talented guy. I think he's one of them rare players, honestly. He's a tremendous blessing to the program, and I know the future is bright. I know when I say that some people might look at me crazy, but they will see as well that he has a bright future.
"I joke with him all the time that every time I see his dad and his mom I say, 'Well, they're smiling for a reason,' because they also know is future is bright."