Big XII Player Spotlight: Taye Barber
With TCU’s Jalen Reagor being drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s likely that you’re going to hear the name Taye Barber a lot more. During his sophomore year at Cypress Springs High School, Barber played quarterback and finished with 3,832 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns while adding 832 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Halfway through his junior season, Barber began the transition to full-time running back. As a senior, he totaled 805 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, adding 10 receptions for 294 yards and a touchdown. Before committing to TCU, Barber held offers from Clemson, Iowa State, Stanford, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and 22 others, including Ivy League Schools.
As a true freshman and sophomore, Barber was second on the team in catches for TCU. During his freshman year, Barber became just the second true freshman in Gary Patterson’s tenure as head coach at TCU (2000-Present) to have at least one reception in every game of the season. As a sophomore, Barber battled injuries but played in the final seven games of the season. Over the course of those seven games, Barber led the team in receptions with 29. 2019 saw Barber have an eight-catch performance against Texas Tech, seven against Oklahoma State, and five against Texas. Barber looks to be WR1 for TCU this year with Reagor in the NFL.
At 5’9” and weighing 186 lbs., the junior doesn’t have great size, but he makes up for it plenty with speed and savvy. Barber was limited to running a basic route tree during his first two years, normal for someone who just started playing receiver in 2018 and playing in TCUs offense. However, of the routes he has run, Barber excels at finding open space. Barber switches up the speed at which he runs each route, so defenders can’t get a beat on him.
Despite his small size and inexperience, Barber offers plenty as an offensive threat. TCU loves to put players in the wildcat and with both Sewo Olonilua and Jalen Reagor gone. We could see Taye Barber fill that role, while also adding more passing plays to the mix. The ability to play QB, RB, slot receiver, and on the outside makes Barber an intriguing player and early All-Big XII candidate. It’s worth noting that he is a willing blocker, which can’t be said for a lot of wide receivers.
The biggest question mark for Barber at this point is his durability. Durability concerns could be solved as he takes on a bigger role for the Horned Frogs. If he can hold up while seeing more touches, he could see his stock soar. The simplicity of TCUs offense and lack of variety in routes ran could slightly hurt Barber. Of the routes he’s been asked to run, he’s done a good job of getting open. This offense should be getting a more complex with QB Max Duggan moving into his sophomore year. More route variety is something you can expect from the Horned Frogs.
For 2020, Barber will be given more opportunities to work in space. Football is becoming more about getting a guy the ball in space than ever before. That just so happens to be Barber’s bread and butter. He had a few costly drops in 2019 but given that he’s still learning the position, that should be expected. He might not be in the 2021 Draft; he could be a household name in college football soon.