Dreams sometimes are all we have. Times will get tough and inspiration will be needed.
And in those moments all we have are our dreams.
Luq Barcoo is just about a week away from realizing his childhood dreams.
He’s put in countless hours of film study, running extra sprints, waking up and lifting early while other athletes are still asleep. Now he’s staring that moment in the eyes.
However, getting to this moment has not been as picturesque as the California coastline.
Barcoo has seen and experienced just about all the hardships life can offer violence, poverty, raised by his mother and facing homelessness.
But, through it all, Barcoo explains how his mother has been his strength and how the two of them would spend hours talking out whatever was on Barcoo’s mind.
To understand the motivation of Barcoo, first, you must understand him.
Barcoo was born in Cleveland, OH, then moved to Kingston, Jamaica, after that it was back to Cleveland, and finally, around the age of 7 or 8, Barcoo found San Diego permanently.
“The things I was surrounded by weren’t so positive. I lived out in Spring Valley and Southeast San Diego and it was a little rough down there. I was exposed to some things early on; violence, poverty, there were six of us growing up with a single mom. Things were kind of hard growing up, but we made the best of it.”
Then things took a turn when Barcoo and his family moved into a new neighborhood and it offered a new way of life, as this would be Barcoo’s formal introduction to football.
“Once I found football I knew I’d stick with it forever. It was my getaway. It kept me away from trouble. It kept me away from everything,” Barcoo said.
That natural talent just started finding ways to come out despite being overlooked at first. In Barcoo’s first season of organized football, he spent most of his time on the defensive side of the ball. It frustrated Barcoo, as he wanted to play offense, but it helped him realize that when he got his chance he wasn’t going to give it back.
The following season, Barcoo played RB and he exploded. Barcoo showcased such raw, natural talent that all the coaches began to show a special interest in his skills and really worked with him to maximize that skill set.
But just as he was overlooked initially in the San Diego Youth Leagues, Barcoo once again felt the doubters approaching as he entered high school. As a freshman Barcoo didn’t play offense; only seeing defensive snaps but fast-forward to his sophomore year of high school and he started both ways. Once again finding an offensive home at the RB position as a sophomore.
Then it was his junior season that put him on the map. His playmaking skills were on full display and it put the football community on alert. Barcoo was looking forward to his senior year as he felt he was poised for an even more dominant season than as a junior.
But football and life sometimes don’t follow the plans we lay for them.
Barcoo was among the statistical receiving leaders in the county and dominating any opponent in his way as a senior. That was until Barcoo experienced a hamstring injury as a senior and forced him to miss a solid portion of the season thus slowing his recruiting down. “All the scholarships and the opportunities I had to go to college I felt as if they were slowly fading away. I went from being the leader in every category and everyone loving me to being forgotten. Seeing awards I should have won but didn’t because of the injuries. It was a tough time for time,” is how Barcoo recalled the adversity of his final high school season.
But there would be good news ahead.
Barcoo received an invite to the Alex Spanos All-Star Game. This served as a huge opportunity for him because with his hamstring healed it offered him one last chance to demonstrate his abilities on the field. There was one school still showing heavy interest; Humboldt State, a Division 2 school.
Barcoo elected to bet on himself and take the junior college route instead with the hopes of playing high-level Division 1 football. Barcoo decided to attend and play at Grossmont College. Barcoo was playing solid during his first year with the squad, starting at CB and then a sequence of unfortunate events left Barcoo facing homelessness. Barcoo did not want to leave California with his mother as she was moving to Arizona, so he told his mother that he was fine and had it all settled.
The problem was he wasn’t fully settled.
Barcoo then was speaking to a friend and mentioned his situation which resulted in him being able to stay with them for as long as he needed.
The move meant Barcoo could keep his football dream alive and not have to worry about where he was going to sleep on a nightly basis.
“They told me they didn’t know my situation and that I should have said something sooner. His mom really helped out. She helped me get a bus pass. Every morning I would ride with her to work and then I’d get on a trolly and take it to school from her job. That was at about 5 am every day. I did that all season,” Barcoo recalled how grateful he was for the help at this time.
With Barcoo being able to focus on football during his sophomore season at Grossmont College it saw him splitting time on offense and defense. Barcoo spent the early part of the season flipping from defense to offense before it became clear that Barcoo was just going to play both ways. Barcoo spent a majority of the season taking reps at CB and WR, as he was an electric playmaker on both sides.
With Barcoo’s strong season he received heavy recruiting interest from Utah State, Northern Arizona, Portland State and San Diego State.
Barcoo stated that he always wanted to play for his hometown college, “I remember when I was in high school, like my sophomore year, I started to really like San Diego State. The thought of playing for my hometown team and seeing people getting offered by them made me realize I wanted to play for them. It was my number one school and it is crazy how it works out. Then I went on my visit and basically it came together from there.”
Barcoo credits the structure of the San Diego State football program with helping him grow so much as a player and person his first year on campus. Barcoo acknowledged it took some adjusting and getting used to at first but it all paved the way for a legendary senior season.
Barcoo sees himself leave the San Diego State University football program second all-time in career interceptions with 10; despite only playing two seasons. Additionally, Barcoo was named an All-American by the following publications: Walter Camp Second Team, Phil Steele Second Team, Associated Press Third Team, Pro Football Focus Honorable Mention. Combine that with a First Team All-Mountain West selection coupled with leading the nation with 16 PBUs and being a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist it is safe to see why NFL teams are extremely intrigued by the playmaking, cover CB with tremendous length and cat-like quickness.
And while Barcoo may not have received a combine invite, he did attend the East-West Shrine Game. This week-long experience put Barcoo up against some of the other elite draft-eligible talent and paved the way for his Pro Day. However, his Pro Day was a little different than originally planned as the Coronavirus outbreak forced Barcoo to take matters into his own hands. Barcoo was able to find available space and stay within the recommended health guidelines to complete his workout. Barcoo posted outrageous numbers with a 6.84 three-cone, 41-inch vertical jump, 11ft3in broad jump and a laster timed 4.43 forty.
When asked about his mindset as he embarks on his NFL journey Barcoo stated “I’ve had to prove myself at every level of football Pop Warner, high school, junior college, at San Diego State and I am ready to do it again in the NFL. I’m used to being overlooked. I just have to show everyone one more time.”