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August 25, 2005

Byrnes backup QB makes most of tough spot

At first glance, you'd think it would be great to be Daniel Barton.

After all, this should be his year. He should be big man on campus, dating the head cheerleader, the apple of Duncan, S.C.'s eye. He's a quarterback for Byrnes High, one of the best teams in the country, surrounded by more talent than an American Idol reunion.

At second glance, you'd think it would be miserable to be Daniel Barton.

If Duncan in fact has an apple in its eye, it's junior quarterback Willy Korn. He's the big man on campus, relegating Barton to a backup role, not exactly a plum role for a senior.

But what can Barton do? Korn is good, real good. He's better than the alt-rock band of the same name, better than Zellwood white corn, better than buttered popcorn. Korn is so good that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier offered him a scholarship before he even began his junior season. So did Clemson. Korn chose the Tigers.

So Barton has to bide his time behind Korn. He even has to root for him, hoping Korn puts up so many points that it borders on ridiculous for coach Bobby Bentley to leave him in games. Then and only then is it Barton time.

"They're both pretty good," Bentley said. "We're fortunate to have two like that on the same team."

Barton wants the time, and he makes the most of it. In Byrnes' opener on Saturday night in Nashville against Montgomery Bell Academy, Korn first sat after he guided the Rebels to a 27-0 lead in the second quarter. All Barton did was drive Byrnes 83 yards in about 3 minutes and cap the drive with his first touchdown pass of the season.

The Rebels crushed the Big Red 62-14. Korn finished 19 of 24 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Barton completed 14 of 17 for 177 yards and two TDs. Each QB ran for a TD.

"He's fine with it (being the backup)," Bentley said. "I'm sure he's not the happiest of campers, but he understands what we're trying to do."

When you think about it, there's a lot to like about Barton's situation. He doesn't face all the pressure Korn faces as the starter. If Barton is in the game, things probably will be going very well for the Rebels. And if they are, you'd figure his numbers should look like they did against MBA.

And even though he's a backup, Barton doesn't have to worry too much about being overlooked. Korn, committed or not, ensures there will be college scouts at virtually every Byrnes game permissible. So lots of coaches will have the opportunity to see Barton as well.

And Bentley believes his backup will make a fine college front man.

"He's good," Bentley said. "He's as good as anybody around here, I know that.
"There's been a bunch of interest in Daniel, but no major offers yet. But I expect him to get offered. He's Division I, no doubt about it."

So as long as he doesn't pick Clemson …

Bob McClellan can be reached via email at bmcclellan@rivals.com.


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