As a senior at the University of Oregon, Kenjon Barner rushed for 1,767 yards and 23 touchdowns (21 rushing) to help lead the Ducks to their second BCS bowl game victory in as many seasons. The Los Angeles native who started only one full season at the collegiate level is not pleased at having been drafted in the 6th round of NFL Draft last April.
The Panthers’ rookie looks to use being drafted 182nd overall as motivation. As one of 59 players to report on the first day of Carolina’s minicamp, he told the AP:
You know, in my mind I knew nothing was guaranteed. So was I disappointed? Yeah. But it just gave me something to work for. I’m here now. Every day is a work day. I’ve got to play with a chip on my shoulder. Every day I’m going to remind myself that 181 people went before me.
Barner, who had to give up his college number of 24 and pick up number 25 instead, was seen taking reps not only with the running backs, but also as a kick returner. The Panthers’ newest weapon caught the eye of his new coach Ron Rivera both on film before the draft and during minicamp workouts. ”It’s interesting when you watch him,” Rivera said to the AP. ”He’s got some quickness. But he’s also a very smart young man. He was a fifth-year senior who graduated.”
Rivera was pleasantly surprised to find Barner still available in the 6th round, which is why the Panthers acted quickly when it was their chance to pick. Barner will join a crowded backfield of Jonathan Stewart, De’Angelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. With the addition of Barner, the Carolina backfield is crowded with Ducks as Stewart was a first-round pick in 2008.