Anthony Barr burst onto the scene in 2012 as a converted fullback that became one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the Pac 12. He has returned for his senior season with the UCLA Bruins and bulked up to a beefy 255 pounds of muscle. Barr is poised to make a major statement this fall and could play his way into the top of the 2014 NFL Draft while winning a few collegiate awards in the process. But after a shot to the head during practice, should Barr and the Bruins be concerned?
Head coach Jim Mora seems to be trying to downplay it. On the Dan Patrick Show, Mora admitted that Barr had taken a shot to the head but didn’t think it would have any lasting effects. “He’ll be ok,” Mora said during the interview. “He took a shot…it wobbled him.” But with a rise in concerns about the brain health of players, could this turn into a much bigger headache for the rising star linebacker?
College football has already seen one player forced from the field this offseason due to issues with his brain. Linebacker Danny Spond, who started 11 games for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last season, was forced to retire from football due to hemiplegic migraines. While there is no way how exactly the migraines started for Spond, a lifetime of playing football and taking shots to the head could not have been helpful to his condition.
The Bruins need to move forward with caution on Barr. Many football careers have been cut short because of trauma to the head and their linebacker is just scratching the surface of what he can do on the football field. The team has to make sure Barr is taken care of medically and allowed the time to properly heal or else risk having his entire season and future career “wobbled” as well.