- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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Sam Barrington will play in his 48th and final game this Saturday for South Florida. The linebacker has 251 career tackles to his name, to go with 19.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception.
Barrington's senior campaign has not gone as well as expected, with his Bulls squad, the Big East's preseason No. 2 team, staring at a 3-8 record and a second straight bowl-less season. But he is hoping to make the most of one last shot, this time against a Pitt team that needs one more win to become bowl-eligible itself.
ESPN.com caught up with Barrington earlier this week to talk about his career.
What's the feeling like with just a few more practices left in this season and one more game?
Sam Barrington: I feel great. I'm happy. The season hasn't gone as planned, but most of all just grateful for the opportunity that I've been able to have here at the University of South Florida, being a player who's contributed a lot. I've learned an immense amount of things here at this program, and I just wish them luck toward the future. And I feel great about the guys coming back on this team next year.
You're playing a team that needs to win to extend its season. No one goes into a season wanting to play the role of spoiler, but is that something you're looking forward to playing this weekend?
SB: Definitely. Pairing that with a win. Most of all we just want to win, and a win is going to lead to them being bowl ineligible. That's just the reality of the situation. We're going to go in and give it our best and try to come out of this game with a 'W.'
What do you see in [Pitt RB] Ray Graham that makes him so special?
SB: I think he's a great guy. I had a chance to meet with him at the Big East media days in Rhode Island. I think he's a great guy. I know he loves the game of football. And his ability to come back strong from an injury so detrimental the way he has, I'm happy for him. And he's doing some great things, and it will be exciting to get on the field against him this year. He's doing some good things.
How has Coach [Skip Holtz] handled everything? Obviously he's under a lot of questions from people outside your circle. How do you see him go about his day-to-day business with you guys?
SB: One thing I appreciate about coach Holtz, he always comes to work with a smile on his face. Regardless of what's going on out of here, that's not what we focus on. What we focus on is each other and keeping each other up and continuing to come to work every day. So his ability to persevere and be resilient through all this outside stuff, I greatly appreciate it. You kind of have to idolize him for be able to do something like that, because I know it's not easy.
It seems like you guys have a new injury every day. How has the whole next-man-in mentality trickled down throughout the roster?
SB: I think one thing that's been able to keep our head above water is we came into the season with a decent amount of depth at a lot of positions, and unfortunately we lost some guys, some guys who contributed for us a lot. But we've got some young guys stepping up and that's exciting. I'm excited about it. I know they're excited about it.
What do you think you can learn from this season, regardless of win-loss record?
SB: Just to stick to everything that you love, regardless of how things are going. If you're doing something, you're doing it for a reason. You're not doing it just so you can go, 'Why are you doing it?' Because you love it, and you've got to trust that all things work together for the good.
I know you've got one more game left, but is it tough not to think about the NFL? How much is that on your mind, and what are you hoping for at the next level?
SB: I'm definitely looking forward to playing in the NFL. I love the game of football. I'm mentally and physically ready to get my game up, but my primary focus is on this season and finishing out this season and being a great teammate for my teammates.
Sam Barrington will play in his 48th and final game this Saturday for South Florida. The linebacker has 251 career tackles to his name, to go with 19.5 tackles for loss, 4.