Shaquil Barrett: from Boys Town to the Super Bowl

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 10:03 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Shaquil Barrett played a huge role in the Tamba Bay Buccaneers NFC Championship over the Packers.

He recorded three sacks and two tackles for loss.

In 2019, Barrett was the NFL’s sack leader.

Long before he was pressuring opposing QB’s in the league, he relied on the structure that Boys Town provides.

His older brother Kevin was already at the school and was seeing success.

“When there were a few environmental challenges back at home, Shaquil came out here as well,” Aaron Groff said.

Groff, currently the Admissions Coordinator at the school, was a wrestling and football coach back then.

He connected with Barrett and saw a resilient young man who doesn’t like a lot of attention, but will work his tail off behind the scenes.

“Some of what has separated Shaquil has been things like work ethic, and it sounds kind of cliché, but it absolutely the truth,” Groff said.

Barrett went on from Boys Town to play football at the University of Nebraska Omaha. After the school dropped its football program, he transferred to Colorado State University.

He had a good career there, but went undrafted in the NFL Draft.

Barrett signed with the Denver Broncos in 2014 and stuck. He was part of the team that won Super Bowl 50.

He’s since moved on to Tampa Bay and the rest is history.

Barrett’s success is well documented at the school.

If you look around, you’ll find state trophies with his name on, and memorabilia from his accomplishments in the league.

He’s setting quite the example for the younger generation.

“I think there’s a lot of life lessons for our kids by just watching Shaquil Barrett, who Shaquil is,” Groff said. “And, yes, he’s in the NFL and, yes, he’s in the super bowl, but it’s also how he’s done it. He’s pieced together a seven or eight year career in the league, and along the way, he’s not tripped up. He’s continued to live clean and do the right things to where we can tell our kids this is someone that you emulate because this is someone who competes with character and does it the right way.”

Groff is excited to watch Barrett in his second Super Bowl.

They stay in touch and try to meet in person at least once a year.

They exchanged texts after the Bucs advanced to the big game.

Groff’s message for Shaq is simple.

“I almost tell Shaquil the same thing almost every time I text him: compete with the warrior spirit and enjoy the journey. He does a nice job with both of those things,” Groff said.

Super Bowl LIV is Sunday, February 7.

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