If there’s one characteristic BYU fans love most about the student-athletes that come to Provo, I’d say it’s loyalty. And Alex Barcello delivered on that Friday night.
The former Arizona player opted to take advantage of the NCAA blanket waiver that froze eligibility for fall and winter sport athletes and come back for a second senior season. The Chandler, Ariz., native credited the coaching staff and his teammates, along with his now-fiancée, with helping him come to this decision.
Honestly, I never saw him leaving.
Matt Haarms’ and Brandon Averette’s respective decisions to leave also didn’t surprise me, but there was an added layer to Barcello’s choice.
Barcello came to Provo from a toxic environment, both with the team and personally. The Wildcats were in the middle of a college recruiting scandal and Barcello was having some issues with extended family.
BYU was a breath of fresh air for Barcello. Not only did it separate him from what had plagued him his first two collegiate seasons, but he came to a program that believed in him and gave him the opportunity to become a team leader.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I was in Tucson the two years that Barcello was. He moved to Provo early summer of 2019, while I moved in the fall. He was underused and overlooked with the Wildcats.
Arizona tends to get a lot of one-and-done players in its program, while BYU is the opposite. But even though BYU players are more likely to play out their whole collegiate career, there’s still those that choose to leave a bit early or opt to finish out their careers elsewhere (most recently Connor Harding and Kolby Lee).
I keep an eye on enough discussion boards and Facebook groups to know that most times fans turn a little on those who leave early — feeling as if they were betrayed by a player they became so invested in.
Players don’t owe anyone anything, but I am glad to see Barcello stay. I’ve seen first-hand how BYU has helped him and made Barcello happier. Barcello needed a school like BYU and BYU needed a player like Barcello.
Now, they’ll get one more year together.
Speaking of loyalty, BYU football recently released its Gameday T-shirt — an annual tradition — for the upcoming season. The 2021 design features a large cursive script in the middle that reads “Loyal,” and is surrounded by text that goes around in a circle that says, “Cougar Nation Stronger Together.”
It’s a sign that we’re headed back to a “normal” season experience. After all, BYU recently announced LaVell Edwards Stadium would go back to full capacity for the 2021 season.
Is this it? Are we nearing the end of this pandemic?
Only time will tell if we’re almost done with this pandemic, but at least Cougar fans can get a new shirt to wear now that we’re all going out more these days.
• For those keeping track, I’ve started on my position previews for the upcoming football season. I started off with what the Cougars are expected to accomplish in the fall. Then I had a story on the running back group, which will be followed up by a story on the receiver group in Sunday’s print issue.
• BYU’s baseball team may not have had the season it was hoping for, but a handful of Cougars were recognized with conference honors. Second baseman Andrew Pintar received the highest honor among his teammates, being named West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year.
• Nick J. Lee of Vanquish the Foe looks at five teams BYU football should add to its schedule.
• The Deseret News’ Ryan McDonald poses the question: Is Steve Young one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time?
• According to NJ.com, Zach Wilson has had mixed results through the first half of OTAs.
Normita’s Spanish Lesson of the Week
Alex Barcello está tan agradecido con BYU que decidió regresar.
Alex Barcello is so grateful toward BYU that he decided to come back.