Devin Barclay’s first love was always soccer, and after spending three years kicking for the Ohio State University football team, his path has come full circle.
Barclay, who played five seasons in MLS before turning to education and football, told the Insider on Monday that the Colorado Rush, an elite youth soccer program, has hired him as a director of coaching. He arrived in the Denver area over the weekend.
“I still watch soccer, I still love soccer,” said Barclay, who in 2001 signed with MLS from high school and went on to play for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, San Jose Earthquakes, D.C. United and Columbus Crew. “Some things don’t go away. I’m back in the sport that I have the most passion for. Now I can give back.”
Last fall, I profiled Barclay, a native of Annapolis, Md., in a story that explored his transformation from promising soccer player to Big Ten kicker. At the time, he was in the middle of his senior season with the Buckeyes. At age 27, he was the oldest player on a premier college football team – and one of the nation’s most accurate kickers.
In 2010, Barclay made 20 of 24 field goals and all 62 extra-point attempts for a team-high 122 points. Over two seasons, he converted 27 of 34 field goals and 74 consecutive extra points. In December, he graduated with a degree in sport and leisure studies.
On March 11 in Columbus, he was among several Buckeyes to work out in front of NFL scouts. Teams don’t usually bother drafting kickers, preferring to invite free agents to training camp.
“I invested so much time with football the last few years,” he said, “I needed to kick one more time before I closed that door.”
Barclay didn’t receive any feedback, and with the NFL and the players’ union at an impasse over a new collective bargaining agreement, he is not holding his breath about a formal tryout.
Since the football season ended with a victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl – he made a 46-yard field goal and four extra points -- Barclay has been pursuing opportunities in soccer. Already planning to move to Colorado to coach part-time at a private school, he was offered a job by the Rush. Barclay said he is going to oversee players ages 13 to 15 and coach a U-17 squad.
The Rush’s coaching staff also includes Carlo Cornacchia, a native of Italy who played for, among others, Cagliari, Napoli and Atalanta between 1984 and ’97; and former Colorado Rapids and San Jose defender Wes Hart.
“Hopefully I can get into college coaching at some point, but for now, I feel like it’s perfect,” said Barclay, who will turn 28 next week. “It was the right time to go somewhere new and try something new. I’m back in soccer, and that’s what I always wanted.”