Auburn’s early interest in West Orange quarterback Woody Barrett came as no surprise to his coach Bob Head.
“He’s always reminded us of Cam Newton,” Head said. “Auburn truly has the offense that’s suited to him.”
After working with Barrett for two years, the Newton comparison isn’t hyperbole. Head happily raves about the dual-threat quarterback’s talents.
Barrett’s arrival at West Orange as a transfer from Evans High School for his junior year spurred the most successful two-year stretch in program history. He led the Warriors to their first playoff win last season.
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For an encore, the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder guided West Orange to a record 12 wins in the fall and an appearance in the Class 8A semifinals.
“He accounted for 80 percent of our offense and we had some really good weapons around him,” Head said. “He was that key ingredient to our success.”
The offense averaged more than 36 points per game with Barrett throwing for 2,000-plus yards and 20 touchdowns and adding more than 1,400 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground.
Head saw shades of Auburn’s former Heisman winner in Barrett from everything to their similar size —Newton was taller going into college at 6-foot-5, but they have similar playing weight — playing styles and demeanor.
“Woody is one of the best athletes I’ve seen,” Head said. “He has 4.6 speed and has the mentality that he’s going to knock you out.”
It was Auburn’s past success with dual threat quarterbacks that gave the coaching staff an advantage over the many top Division 1 programs recruiting Barrett. Barrett received more than a dozen offers from power five schools with his top three coming down to Auburn, Alabama and Ohio State.
“When those are your top schools you know you are in pretty good shape,” Head said.
Barrett verbally committed to Auburn in early June and remains excited about making it official on national signing day.
“Had a great weekend at Auburn looking towards the future playing on the plaines (sic),” Barrett tweeted out after his official visit on January 17.
The transition for Barrett to the college ranks will echo the one he made coming to West Orange early in his career. In two years as a starter at Evans High School, Barrett threw for a total of four touchdowns and had no experience in the spread offense.
He evolved from a “freak athlete” into a well-rounded signal caller by learning to read defenses, improving his timing and refining his mechanics.
“He was checking at the line this season, making them on his own and getting the ball out fast,” Head said. “He turned himself into a great quarterback.”
Head sees Barrett as the most developed quarterback he’s sent to the college ranks.
“I coached Trevor Siemian (at Olympia High School), who is a backup for the Denver Broncos right now, and Woody is far ahead of where Trevor ever was,” Head said.
Siemian saw the field as a redshirt freshman for Northwestern and was a three-year starter in the Big Ten.
Auburn’s quarterback competition will be well underway when Barrett arrives on campus, but Head doesn’t see the disadvantage holding his former player back.
Barrett will be competing against returning starters Jeremy Johnson and Sean White along with junior college transfer John Franklin III. Franklin is one of Auburn’s nine early enrollees.
“There’s no question in my mind he’s going to learn it (the offense) quick and make the coaches hard pressed to ignore him,” Head said.