You Watching This Guy? Eric Barriere is Lighting Up the FCS

Players To Watch - FCS Players matter too - Eric Barriere fast rising up Draft Boards & Maybe Heisman Trophy short list too?

It seems the criteria for Heisman Trophy candidates is always a bit subjective. Should the winner be the best player, period? Best player on the best team? And how much should measurables or the “eye test” go into the decision?

Regardless of the talking points, the Heisman almost always comes down to FBS level players. So why would I venture into this territory when my focus is FCS level? ERIC BARRIERE. The Eastern Washington quarterback is one of the most exciting players in college football.

Sure, he’s not Bryce Young, QB for Alabama. Young currently has 2,453 passing yards, 26 TD passes and 3 INTs. Barriere is not Matt Corral, the Ole Miss QB who has 1,913 passing yards and 474 rushing yards. Both QBs generated Heisman buzz this season, deservedly so. There’s also Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh, with 2,236 yards and 23 TDs to only 1 INT.

Besides Heisman Trophy talk, these excellent players have two other things in common: fewer passing yards and touchdown passes than Eric Barriere. Though only 6 ft 1 in and 210 lbs, Barriere is a giant on the field. He’s coming off a loss to Weber State (EWU’s first loss of the season), in which he was limited to 245 yds, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Imagine calling that LIMITED! It was an admirable performance by every standard except the one Eric Barriere has set. So far this year he has tallied 3,312 passing yards, averaging 414 yds/gm. YES, 414 yards per game. He also has 30 TD passes to only 6 INTs.

Add to that a 66.8 completion % and a 181.3 QBR. (He also has 3 rushing touchdowns.) His 13,558 career total yards are best all-time in the Big Sky. In fact, Barriere is only about 3,300 yards behind Steve McNair’s FCS record for total yards. And with that we bring you to “Air” McNair.

Of course, McNair impressed many during his Alcorn State career, using that success to attain a 3rd overall selection by the Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) in 1995. McNair won the Walter Payton award in 1994, being recognized as the best player in FCS football. Playing 13 years, most of those for the Oilers/Titans, he amassed 31,304 passing yards and 174 TD passes. He had 5 career NFL playoff appearances, was selected for the Pro Bowl three times and was Co-MVP in 2003. McNair finished his career in 2007 with the Ravens. He is also in the Titans/Oilers Ring of Honor. He died tragically in 2009.

But the point I wish to drive home is the notice McNair gained in the Heisman race. He collected 56 touchdowns and 6,281 total yards his senior season, concluding what was an already amazing college career. He finished 3rd in Heisman voting behind winner Rashaan Salaam and runner-up Ki-Jana Carter.

Eric Barriere is slightly smaller than Steve McNair, but he has impressed with his arm, his accuracy and his overall elusiveness. Barriere has the “It” we often talk about. He runs when necessary, but more often than not he escapes defenders only to launch a pass to an open receiver that only Barriere sees. He is impressive, no doubt. Impressive enough by stats or eye test to garner at least a bit of Heisman buzz.

For those who’s curiosity I’ve managed to pique, Eastern Washington’s next game is against a tough (I must grudgingly admit) #6 ranked Montana State team. They will meet on “The Inferno” November 6, 4pm EST. It will be a good primetime game for my UK readers. Barriere already took it to my Montana Grizzlies this season, overcoming a challenging first half to engineer a 34-28 comeback.

If you want to catch a guy you may not have heard of, and an exciting player at that, Eric Barriere is one to watch.

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