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Nashville’s Derek Barnett Flying High with Eagles

Posted Feb 1, 2018

Derek Barnett went from the Brentwood Academy Eagles to the Philadelphia Eagles, with a stop in between at the University of Tennessee. Now he’s in the Super Bowl.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Derek Barnett went from the Brentwood Academy Eagles to the Philadelphia Eagles.

And into the Super Bowl.

“Everything has happened so fast,” Barnett, smiling, said from Super Bowl LII. “It’s a great feeling, and I feel very fortunate to be here today. But now the No.1 goal is to win the Super Bowl. We are not done yet.”

Barnett, the 14th overall pick by Philadelphia out of the University of Tennessee, has been an impact player during his rookie season. He was named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie team after producing the most sacks (5.0) by an Eagles rookie since Fletcher Cox in 2012.

Barnett strip-sacked Vikings quarterback Case Keenum in the NFC title game, and the takeaway led to a score.

“I think Derek is one of the best rookies I’ve been around,” Cox said. “His work ethic, his attention to detail, and the way he shows up to work every day. There’s not a lot of bad things you can say about Derek. He listens, he takes coaching, and you can see his growth from Day One, from when he came here until now.”

The Eagle said time has flown by.

Barnett grew up in Nashville, and started playing football in fifth grade for the Brentwood Blaze. He said he immediately fell in love with the game.

At Brentwood Academy, he blossomed into a top college prospect, learning from defensive line coach Jack Pittman. Barnett said the lessons he learned at BA helped set him up for future success.

"Great competition, and it prepared me academically and athletically,” he said of BA. “Jack, he taught me how to practice, and how to practice hard. You win the games during the week with preparation, and I feel like I learned that in high school and it carried me on.

“Jack checks on me all the time, and sees how I am doing. He tells me to keep doing my thing.”

Barnett thrived at the University of Tennessee, where he broke Reggie White’s sack record by recording 33 sacks. He compiled 52 tackles for a loss at Tennessee, second all-time in school history behind Leonard Little.

“Fun times,” Barnett said of his days in Knoxville. “I have so many friends I still keep up with from my time at Tennessee.

“The support has been great from back home, from high school to college. I get a lot of love and I appreciate it.”

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said he’s been impressed by what he’s seen from Barnett, who had two-sack games against the Redskins and Cowboys this season, and tallied 25 tackles while playing in 41 percent of the team’s defensive plays during the regular season.

Barnett blocked a field goal in 2017, and also recovered a fumble.

“He has been a real consistent player for us,” Schwartz said of Barnett. “He has been good against the run, good against the pass. He’s been tough. And for a rookie, he’s been consistent.”

Teammates said they’ve done their best to help a kid from Nashville get comfortable in Philly.

“Him coming in, young kid, I think he was 20 years old when he first got here. He was not even old enough to have a drink,” Cox said. “You kind of take him under your wing a little bit. I talked to him a few times and told him ‘Hey man, you have my phone number and if you need anything, give me a call.”

Barnett said he adjusted well.

He called Philadelphia a “different, but unique town” but he said he loves it, although he said it’s a lot colder than Nashville. Of course, he’s really feeling the chill here – the feels-like temperature was minus-24 at sunrise Thursday morning.

Since the start of the season, Barnett’s only been home once – during the bye week in November.

This weekend, his family, including his mother, is heading to Minneapolis to see him in the Super Bowl.

Barnett is hoping the Eagles keep flying.

“All this, it has been fun. It has been great,” Barnett said. “I came into a great situation, with a great team. A lot of guys have come up to me and told me, ‘I’ve been in the league 10 years, 12 years, 18 years and I’ve never been to the Super Bowl.’ Some of them haven’t been to the playoffs.

“But we have been winning, and now we’re here at the Super Bowl, and that’s where you want to be. Now we have one more thing to do.”