Oct. 6, 2012

Family First (C.J. Barnett)

by Ryan Zimmerman, Athletics Communications

Family, faith, and football – these are the values by which Buckeye defensive back C.J. Barnett lives his life.

A short conversation with Barnett, a redshirt junior from Dayton, Ohio, reveals how much these three elements guide him on a daily basis. He immediately lights up when the topic shifts to his relationship with his mother, stepfather and 16-year-old sister.

“I love spending time with my family,” Barnett said. “We are always cracking jokes with each other and being goofy. We all have similar personalities: quiet in public and loud and obnoxious when around each other. It makes for a good time when we’re together.”

He speaks especially highly of his mother, Yolanda Buskey and 16-year-old sister, Jasmine, whom he calls “my best friends.”

“I can tell my mom and sister anything,” he said. “For a long time it was just the three of us, so we have complete trust in each other. There are never secrets in our house and everything is always out in the open. They, along with my stepdad, are great people and they inspire me to be the same. “

Barnett doesn’t fit the typical mold of a high-profile student-athlete. Whereas teammates often relish the attention they receive as pseudo-celebrities on campus, Barnett prefers to lead a quieter life away from the spotlight, choosing to spend what little free time he has with family and friends.

But that wasn’t always the case. As a freshman, Barnett says he often became caught up in the glow of the limelight, focusing his attention on “superficial” entities rather than on the three elements that now are so important to his everyday existence. It took “some growing up,” but Barnett is happy with the strengthened appreciation he now has for the important things in life.

 “I’ve grown up a lot in my four years here,” he said. “I’m still goofy and easy-going and I enjoy the college life, but I definitely value the things that are most important to me more than I did. I appreciate my family more, have built a stronger relationship with my faith and am also closer to my team. I have people in my life I love, and not everyone is so fortunate.”

On the football field Barnett treats his teammates as an extension of his family, abiding by the same honest, no-secrets policy he utilizes with his immediate relatives.

“The way I see it, my team is my family,” he said. “I act the same way around them as I do with my parents and sister. Having that family environment is important because it makes us closer as a team and improves our communication. On the field, I try to lead by example and do the right things so others do the same.”

With a year of eligibility remaining after the 2012 season [he redshirted the 2010 season after a knee injury], Barnett is focused on closing the year in style and playing for a championship in 2013. Beyond college, Barnett hopes for a shot at the NFL, but he is confident no matter what happens, family, faith and football will lead him in a successful future.

“Football has taught me a lot of life lessons I know will be beneficial in the real world,” he said. “I know that whatever I do, my faith and my family will help me along the way. I just want to be able to provide for my family like they have for me – that is my ultimate goal.”