The last name Barber is synonymous with Gopher football. A quick scan of the history book reveals letters won, records broken and NFL dreams realized.
This season, there is another Barber on campus, as freshman linebacker Thomas Barber will don the Maroon and Gold in the fall.
Thomas has been around Minnesota football his entire life. His father Marion and brother Marion III both rank in the top ten all-time for rushing yards in Minnesota history. Marion would go to play for the New York Jets, while Marion III was a dominant running back for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
His brother Dom excelled as a Gopher defensive back before playing for the Houston Texans. Dom's career was cut short by injury and he now works for the football team in recruiting and alumni relations.
While some might see those as big shoes to fill, it was never like that for Thomas.
"From a young age they did not really care if I played football or not," Thomas said.
The newest Gopher had a terrific high school career at Robbinsdale Armstrong before enrolling at Minnesota in January 2016. In high school, his play on the field was only matched by his personality off of it and his success in the classroom.
Barber's high school coach, Jack Negen, had high praise for Thomas when speaking to a local media outlet saying, "He's a better person almost than he is a football player. He's just a class guy in school and a leader on our football team, high-GPA kid and all the character we're looking for."
Those words still bring a humble smile to Thomas.
"It means a lot," he said. "Especially from Coach Negen. For him to say that behind my back without me knowing really makes me feel good about myself."
The Barber family has made a big impact throughout the years for the Gopher football program and it looks like they got another great one in Thomas.
"My parents and my brothers really set me up for life," said Thomas. "I was able to watch them and how they acted off the field. Just how they interacted with other people from strangers to their friends. It made me realize that it is more than just football. You have to be there for everybody."
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