Toledo senior safety Barry Church came up huge in Toledo's 20-19 victory over Northern Illinois…
The Career: Barry Church
He was a highly recruited prospect coming out of high school, and rated three stars. He eventually chose Toledo over Cincinnati. I knew Rocket fans would be interested in hearing from the young man, so I setup an interview with him after practice one day.
Andy Boyd was the safeties coach at Toledo at the time, and he mentioned to me that this would be Church's first interview at Toledo.
My immediate impression on Church was that he was a very polite kid that was down to earth, despite the early hype for him. Something that has lasted with him still today.
Talking to him, I had no idea that he could be a leader by both voice and example on the field. He was just too quiet and polite.
So what did Barry do as a true freshman in the season opener at Iowa State? Well, he forced a fumble on Iowa State's opening drive on a bone-crushing hit. He finished the game as the team's leading tackler with 9.5 tackles. It was an omen of what was to come from Barry Church.
He finished 2nd on the team in tackles with 71, had 9 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 4 interceptions. Two of those four interceptions were returned for touchdowns, which was a school record for interceptions returned for a touchdown in a season by a freshman.
He was named 1st Team All-MAC and 2nd Team Freshman All-America by the Sporting News and Scout.com.
There was no letdown his sophomore season, finishing 3rd on the team with 92 tackles. He landed on the 1st Team All-MAC squad for the second straight season, and led Toledo in interceptions (3) for the second consecutive season.
Last season Church made it three for three on being named 1st Team All-MAC. He was 2nd on the team with 93 tackles.
Church has entered his senior season with a chance to be just the 2nd player in UT history to earn 1st Team All-MAC honors (OL Nick Kaczur was the first) four consecutive seasons.
Through nine games, Church is 2nd on the team in tackles with 82. He has 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception (giving him 9 in his career), one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He's also blocked three kicks so far in 2009.
Having started every game of his career, 45 games to date, Church ranks up there as one of the all-time greats at Toledo. He has 336 total tackles in his career, 15 tackles for loss, 8 forced fumbles, and 9 interceptions. On a defense that has struggled the last four years, Church has been a consistent force. And there's no doubt in my mind that he will be a consistent force on Sunday's in the future.
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