The offensive line plays a vital role in a football team’s success or failure.
If you can’t move the football, you aren’t going to win many games. And it’s up to the offensive line to open holes for the running backs and give the quarterback time to locate and throw to his receivers.
Despite their importance, the offensive line is an often anonymous group, getting less attention than the quarterback or the wide receivers.
But P.J. Barr doesn’t mind.
The Bucknell University transfer to the University of Maine has been an offensive lineman his entire life and he loves life in the trenches.
Barr is a two-time All-Patriot League selection and the graduate student has made an immediate impression at UMaine, where he has played all three offensive line positions during training camp: center, guard and tackle.
“The big thing for me is I love hitting people,” Barr, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound native of North Brunswick, New Jersey, said. “I love the grind of it. You’re one on one. You’ve got to be better than the man in front of you. You have that challenge day in and day out.”
Versatility has been part of Barr’s resume, as he played both right and left guard at Bucknell as well as left tackle.
“We couldn’t be happier with him,” said UMaine offensive line coach Pet Denecke. “He is a true offensive lineman. He’s smart, he can play all three positions and he has gelled well with the guys.”
Barr said Denecke has been very helpful in getting him up to speed on the offensive scheme and the responsibilities that go with each position on the line.
“Our offensive line has been pretty banged up so we’ve had to move him around and he has done a good job for us wherever we have put him,” said UMaine head coach Nick Charlton.
Barr had other offers after deciding to transfer but after talking to Denecke and Charlton and some of the players, he said it “felt like home” so he decided on UMaine.
“I’m loving it here so far. I love the team. They have been awesome. They accepted me right away and I have become close with a lot of them already. That has made the adjustment a lot easier,” said Barr, whose father, David, was a lineman at Hofstra University in New York from 1989-91.
Barr played in 37 games at Bucknell and was named an All-Patriot League second team selection in 2019 and a first teamer this past spring when the Bison played four games including a 33-10 loss to Holy Cross in the Patriot League championship game.
He was a tri-captain this past spring.
Barr has high expectations for himself even though the Colonial Athletic Association is regarded as a better Football Championship Subdivision conference than the Patriot League because its programs have more funding and resources.
“I was a two-time All-Patriot League player and I expect to be All-CAA in some aspect,” he said.
“He is going to be a great asset to the offensive line,” said quarterback Joe Fagnano. ”He has picked up the offensive rather quickly and can play every position.”
UMaine wide receiver Jacob Hennie said Barr has played like a veteran even though he is a newcomer.
“It’s like he has been here as long as we have. He is a great guy and a great player. He works his butt off,” Hennie said.
The Black Bears open against No. 5 Delaware on Thursday, Sept. 2 in Orono.