Anthony Barr Helping Notre Dame Afterall

James RiggioContributor INovember 18, 2012

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans is sacked by linebacker Anthony Barr #11 of the UCLA Bruins in the second half at the Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California. UCLA defeated USC 38-28.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Notre Dame doesn’t lose as many recruiting battles as other collegiate football programs. With a storied tradition that includes 11 national championships and seven Heisman Trophy winners, the Fighting Irish are generally on the short list of many of the top high school football players in the nation.

Anthony Barr was no different. But unlike many others, Barr could have extended his family tree in South Bend, Indiana, if he chose to play for the school that his father Tony Brooks and uncle Reggie Brooks played for.

Barr, who was born in South Bend, grew up in Los Angeles and attended the prestigious Loyola High School. Loyola is a short distance from the USC campus, but even the Trojans' success could not persuade Barr to join the Fighting Irish’s biggest rival.

So Barr ended up going to play for the father of his high school quarterback, Jerry Neuheisel. Rick Neuheisel was the head coach at USC’s crosstown rival UCLA, until being fired at the end of last season.

Barr, who is 6'4'' and 235 pounds, spent his first two years in Westwood as a running back, the position he played at Loyola.

Enter new UCLA coach Jim Mora, and Barr has been moved to outside linebacker. The move is something many had been predicting, as they felt Barr was too big to play as a running back.

While some expected the learning curve to take time, Barr has emerged as one of the top defensive players in the Pacific-12 Conference. He has 12 sacks and played a key role in the Bruins’ 38-28 victory over USC on Saturday.

Although Barr had no intention of injuring Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley when he sacked him late in the fourth quarter, Barr’s sack has forced the senior quarterback to miss next weekend’s game between the Trojans and the top-ranked team in the nation, Notre Dame,.

This is a serious blow to the Trojans’ chances at beating the Fighting Irish.

A win for Notre Dame would put the Fighting Irish in the BCS National Championship. While Anthony Barr is creating a name for himself on the other side of town in Los Angeles, chances are his uncle Reggie will get lots of handshakes when he gets to work Monday morning, as he works in Notre Dame’s athletic department as Manager for Monogram/Football Alumni Relations.

Notre Dame may have lost a recruiting battle by not being able to land Anthony Barr, but chances are he would be welcomed with open arms any time he wants to go back to South Bend.