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Carmody's Corner: Danny Barlowe Talks Offensive Line And What It's Like Playing For Bobby Petrino

In the past I have done some posts about former teammates, and decided that it might be a good idea to get back into doing that for a number of reasons.  1) I don't have that many great stories left on my own, 2) I think you all would like to hear from former players in not only football, but other sports as well (something I am working on with Mike), and I have even discussed with Mike about having Mrs. CC as a future guest as well, and 3) I feel you would also like to know what some of the former guys are up to these days, and how being a Cardinal has impacted their life.

Obviously I'd like to get some of the NFL guys on here, and I plan on doing that in the future, but maybe in their off-seasons when they have more time.  I would love to call these fireside chats, but there is no fireplace, and most of them will be done over the phone. 

My first guest is one of the hardest working guys I know and an offensive lineman on our 2006 Orange Bowl team.  Danny Barlowe was a Cardinal from 2003-2007, and he is now currently in his final year of medical school.  Danny was a lightly regarded offensive lineman from Tallahassee, FL who turned himself into a starter at Louisville. 

I asked Danny some basic questions and then we just talked about things.  Like in the past, all of the words are from Danny and I have added my own comments when necessary.  

1. Describe your decision to commit to the Cards and what it meant to you to play at Louisville?

When I was a senior in high school in 2002, Coach Petrino invited me up to visit the University of Louisville.  He was the newly named head coach going into the spring of 2003.  On my visit, I had a meeting with coach and he offered me a scholarship.  This was my one and only offer from a Division I school.  I committed and I am still grateful for the opportunity that I was given.  I enjoyed my time as a student athlete here, and I tried to make the most of it.

2. What is your favorite memory during your time at Louisville?

April 7th, 2004 when a whole bunch of freshmen piled into the car to go out and celebrate Arthur Carmody's 19th birthday. We went to Chuck-E-Cheese and told the employees that we were like Art's big brothers.  Art, having the baby face, passed for a 13 year old kid, and we were able to enjoy a night full of arcade games.  We won a Nerf gun with all of our tickets.  This is a true story.

Art comment:  This is actually a very true story.  We had an off-day during spring ball and they told me that we were going to go to dinner at some hibachi restaurant that was right next to the Chuck-E-Cheese.  I had no idea and was embarrassed to walk in and see a sign that said "Welcome Art's 13th Birthday Party."  We had a great time and I have a picture of the group with Chuck somewhere that I am now determined to find.

Aside from that, I'd say the relationships that I've been able to make with some of my teammates.  Two of my teammates were groomsmen in my wedding.  Being on a team and grinding through games, practice and workouts together brought a real sense of unity.  Winning a lot of games was a great experience.  The 2006 season was a blast.  Winning the Blackout Game against West Virginia, beating Miami, and winning the Orange Bowl were all great memories.

3. What is your worst memory?

Getting disappointed in myself during my redshirt year when I was on the scout team.  We had a defensive end named Marcus Jones; he was very quick.  He beat me with a pass rush on back to back plays with a spin move.  I didn't keep my head out of the block and was caught leaning over.  I was pretty disappointed, but I kept working. 

My worst memory from a game is losing to South Florida our senior year, just a bad game all around in which were not at all competitive.  We needed the game to try and get bowl eligible late in the season and completely blew it.  

4. Favorite road game or atmosphere you played in?

I know you said road game, but playing at PJCS for home games was always exciting, especially night games.  Playing at Kansas State was a great time.  It was a Big 12 team with great fans.  Playing in Morgantown against West Virginia was also fun.  

My favorite thing about road trips were the steak dinners the night before the game. I would crush about three steaks.  One of my other favorite memories is leaning a big trash can of water against Brian Roche's door during a junior year road trip in the hotel, and he opened the door and water went everywhere in the room.  He didn't even say a word, he just shut the door in our face.

5. Describe your emotions during your last game at PJCS against Rutgers?

Going into the game I was solely focused on the excellent defensive tackle they had.  His name was Eric Foster, and he was very quick.  He wound up starting for the Colts as a defensive lineman.  So that definitely provided a challenge.  And we won the game with a game winning kick from Art.  It was a difficult situation as we had felt like we had a great opportunity going into the season, but all of us wanted to go out on a win.

6. Who were your favorite teammates to play with?

I enjoyed my fellow linemen.  I started at offensive guard between Eric Wood and George Bussey.  Those two were all conference players and NFL draft picks.  They were excellent players and we could trust one another on the field.  Breno Giacomini was also fun to play with as he always brought a high level of intensity.  Some of the older guys like Jason Spitz and Will Rabatin were great teammates and provided great leadership.  Jeremy Darveau was also a great teammate.  Stefan Lefors and Brian Brohm were both excellent quarterbacks; both of them had a confidence to them when calling plays and executing the offense.  Harry Douglas was fantastic and extremely dependable; he was such a hard worker and he was and still is very tough.

Art comment: I am kind of pissed that he didn't mention me at all, not one time. 

7. How was it going up against Elvis Dumervil in practice?

Elvis Dumervil was the best football player I've ever been around.  That should sum it up.  The fact that he is very strong, very quick, his long arms just made him unstoppable.  He was a really tough football player.  He was always nice to me, and a great leader.  You could tell he had a drive and a confidence to be the best.  You just knew he was a gamer and played the game really well.  I don't think the nation saw it until 2005, but he was a gamer even before then.  A lot of people were focused on Marcus Jones, so Elvis kind of flew under the radar in those early years.  

8. How do you feel the offensive line is doing this year?

I feel that the offensive line is working well together this year.  There are so many variables on a line, but I've been impressed with the guards, Jake Smith and John Miller.  Both are veteran players who know how to play the game.  Coach Petrino's offense is very complex, so these guys have to be mentally sharp every play. 

For those that don't know how the offensive line works, I'll give a brief example.  After the play is called, we get to the line, the center will call out the fronts, whether it's a 4-3, 3-4, and he will call the linebacker who he is responsible for, and then the rest of the o-line will make their calls based off that.  The center always has to be correct.  If he is wrong then everyone is wrong.  The offense is so complex, that you have to know exactly what you are doing.  The line executes the play. One of the reasons our line was successful was because Will Rabatin and Eric Wood were correct 99.9% of the time. 

Another important aspect about being on the offensive line is that you have to be able to snap the football well to be center, if not, you have to play guard.  They really knew the playbooks and were the QB's of the offensive line.  Eric always did a great job.  Eric and Bussey were all-conference guys, so it made me look a little better.   

Any issues within the line can be fixed, I think it's just a matter of guys getting used to playing with each other.  They have a new center and it has taken some time.  Bobby P's offense is very complex, and Bonnafon is doing a good job of picking things up, and he will continue to get better as time goes on.

9.  Describe Coach Summers and Coach Petrino's influence on you and the relationships you had with them.

Coach Summers and Coach Petrino are the best coaches in the country.  I was with Coach Summers extensively as he was my offensive line coach.  He's a good man who truly cares about his players.  I think I gave him some gray hairs as he watched me play, but he is without a doubt a great teacher and excelled at implementing the game plan on the offensive line week in and week out.

Coach Petrino gave me a scholarship; no other program did.  I appreciate how Coach Petrino demanded the most from his players.  He knows how to win games and how to get players to play at the highest level possible.  I was very supportive of him coming back, because I know he is the best.  I'm happy he's back.  I give him a hug every time I see him.

10. Why do offensive linemen always jump on the ball whenever it is on the ground, even when the play has been over for like 5 seconds?

Ha. In 2006 We were playing uk (lower case intended) and I was busy pile driving a guy into the ground, and when I looked up, I saw the ball rolling on the turf.  I thought it was a fumble so I jumped on it to recover it, but it turns out it was an incomplete pass.  Either way, I looked up, saw the ball and jumped on it.  I didn't hear the whistle.  When we were watching film later in the week, Coach Summers commented about that play "Great job Danny, you recovered an incomplete pass."

11. How were offensive line meetings with guys like Jason Spitz, Travis Leffew, Kurt Quarterman, Will Rabatin, etc. Any funny stories from those times?

Coach Summers ran a pretty tight ship in our meetings.  We always handled our business in reviewing film and installing new plays.  I always respected how our meetings were conducted.  But, if you had a play where you looked terrible, you would occasionally get laughed at by other teammates.  

I liked playing with Jason.  He kind of looked out for me.  I would get into it with a defensive lineman and he would have my back.  He would say, "I won't let you get your ass kicked but I am not fighting him for you."  I tried to copy him as much as I could on the field.  He played with perfect technique and did exactly what he was supposed to do.  He was very smart, strong, a good athlete, and tough his nails ... Except I was a lot slower than he was.  He was the man.  

On living in Bettie Johnson Hall: I reigned there for 5 years.  I lived there for 5 years because of the closeness to campus.  I did break some stuff there, I practiced long-snapping and broke an exit sign, so needless to say I was never going to be a long-snapper.  On a side note, I competed in the Mr. Bettie Johnson competition and I truly thought I had won the deal.  As they were announcing the runners-up I was applauding them as I figured it was a good consolation prize for them. The problem was, I didn't even place.

The Mr. Bettie Johnson contest had five categories:  three areas of dress (beachwear, where I wore a swimsuit and a beautiful Hawaiian shirt, casual, and business), you had to have a talent, and then Q&A.  I played my guitar, probably some awesome song, and then I absolutely crushed the Q&A.  I think they asked a question like what would make you the perfect Mr. Bettie?  I was very complimentary of the gentlemen I was competing against, even though I wasn't really competing.  It wasn't fair, I was watching these kids do their talents, and all I could think was that I did this at my 5th grade talent show.  I thought I had this thing in the bag.  

So it comes down to Mr. Congeniality and then 3rd place, 1st runner up, and Mr. Bettie Johnson.  We are all out there, and the lobby is jam-packed, so I am standing there thinking let's get ready for my trophy.  They started calling out the winners, #3, #2, etc.  and I am thinking "I ve got this, he was close, but good for him for being third, etc."  As I am getting ready to surely be called Mr. Bettie, they call somebody else.  So I went to my room, and honestly I was pissed off for about two hours. 

Here is the thing, I had about 20 teammates watching this whole thing.  They advertised it for like a month, and I told everyone i was competing in it.  I truly expected to win, and still feel robbed to this day because the mentality that the coaches instilled in all of us is: expect to win, you will win, because you put in the work. I put in the work, and I truly think that the judges were biased. 

Art Comment:  I know Danny better than almost anyone, and I can guarantee that he was pissed that he didn't win this contest.  

On Tom Jurich and the athletic department

He is continuing to build the program, proving why he is the best AD in the country.  He has always been supportive of me and my endeavors.  In today's world where AD's are all about business/money/etc, its good to know that we truly have an AD that cares about the players first and only wants their success. 

I am also very fond of Kevin Miller, the associate AD. A couple of years after I was done playing, I was on campus trying to get into the graduate program and I saw him. I didn't think he would know who I was or remember me, but as I walked by he said, "hey Danny," and I was blown away that he knew my first name after being away for a few years.  That really meant a lot to me as a former player and he is indicative of the staff that Tom Jurich has around him, nothing but great people.  

Post Football Career  

After playing I came back to Louisville and started the MBA/Medical School.  I am on a 5-year program where it's a dual degree, and I am currently applying for an anesthesiology residency, and will graduate from medical school in May. 

I met my future wife Sarah before I got accepted to medical school in January 2010, and we were married on June 24, 2012.  This year we welcomed a beautiful baby girl named Emma Kate Barlowe on May 9, 2014.

Medical school is a long road, and it's a lot of delayed gratification, just like football. You have to wait your turn, your schedule is slammed, you get pulled in a lot of different directions, but you have to do your very best because people are counting on you.  In football you don't want to let your teammates down, and now my wife and daughter are my teammates and they push me to be my absolute best at all times.  And also, just like preparing for a game, I want to be prepared for every day of work in the future.  I credit a lot of this to Coach Petrino and the toughness he instilled in me, the attention to detail he demanded, and it has helped push me through when I have needed it.

Art Comment:  I asked his wife Sarah Barlowe about those comments and she agreed: "A lot he has learned, it has stayed with him.  He still talks about things that were taught to him by coaches.  Playing football helped cultivate those qualities.  It was a very impactful time for him."

What would you like to tell the Louisville fans?  

Honestly, just thank you for your support for the program, coming to games, and cheering us on.  I was really, really proud to play there and even to this day I still feel an immense pride watching the current guys play and succeed.  I love seeing the offensive line be successful and I am proud of them when they do their job well, I will be fist-pumping in my living room watching them.  Sometimes I feel I am playing the game with them. 

One of the reasons I moved back to start the program was due to how I felt when I played here and what the city of Louisville represents from a professional standpoint and the overall great people that call Louisville home.   Also, Coach P, he is the best.  I am very thankful for the scholarship he gave me.  Coach Summers was the best as well.  I also loved Coach Paul Petrino, he was my area recruit who recruited me. I loved the way he fired up anyone and everyone around him. 

Honestly, my favorite place in the whole world was the weight room. I came in as a boy and left as a man.  I was called a pencil-neck 18 year old kid, and came in not very strong, but worked hard and spent a ton of time in there to get better and stronger. After 5 years of doing crazy workouts, I left there strong both mentally and physically, and with a new respect for rap/hip-hop music.

I also have a few Danny Barlowe nuggets to add to this post.

1.  One of my favorite Danny Barlowe stories was relayed to me by my former roommates Brian Brohm and Justin Deeley.  When we all lived in Bettie Johnson Hall in 2004, the fire alarm was pulled during training camp and everyone had to go outside at around 3:00 am. We were all tired, yet there is Danny walking around in shorts and a t-shirt and introducing himself to every girl out there.  Everyone looked like hell yet there was Danny spitting game.  I asked Danny about this and his response was classic..."I was looking for the future Mrs. Danny Barlowe, but none of them made the cut."  

2.  I have been in a few weddings with Danny, and there are two things I want everyone to know about him.  He is by far the best usher I have ever seen, hands down.  During a wedding in Georgia he probably ushered in 90% of the guests, and then when some of them tried to get up and sit in reserved areas he politely would walk over, tell them they couldn't sit there, and move them back to their seats.  He also is an incredible wedding floor dancer.  I have witnessed him yell out song requests from the dance floor, and personally thank all of the band members after the wedding ended.

3.  One of the keys to Danny's success was how smart he was as a player.  He was also one of smartest guys on the team.  He was an Academic All-American.  One summer we had a team draft for an academic challenge for the fall.  Travis Leffew drafted Danny with the first pick in the draft.  Danny took this as a great honor.  He stood up after being announced as the first pick and started thanking people like it was the Academy Awards.  We all immediately cracked up laughing and the upperclassmen told Danny to sit down.  

4.  In the Pittsburgh game in 2006, one of my field goals got blocked because our snapper made a call that Danny didn't hear.  Our snapper went one way and Danny went the other opening a huge hole for H.B. Blades to run through.  He literally almost tackled Harry when he was holding the ball.  Later in the game Danny came up to me on the sidelines and was so disappointed in himself because he thought he had cost me the Lou Groza Award.  I literally thought he was going to start crying.  He profusely apologized and I told him it was alright and that it was no big deal.  That is the kind of teammate Danny was, always looking out for everyone else.  He never wanted to let anyone down.  

I want to thank Danny for taking time out of his busy medical school schedule to talk with me and add to Card Chronicle.   I can't wait for the game this weekend against Clemson.  As a fan it is exciting to have these ACC games on a weekly basis. 

Safe travels to everyone going.  Also, if anyone has any ideas about what they would like to see or hear about in future Carmody's Corner columns please feel free to let me know.  Thanks.