By Cynthia Scott
It’s hard to imagine anyone could be less impressed with Barrett Moen (B.S. ’10) than Barrett Moen himself. Earn an electrical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota with a 3.4 grade point average? No big deal. Begin a Golden Gopher football career as a walk-on and end up on scholarship with regular playing time? No big deal. “I always try to do the best I can,” says the understated Moen, whose modesty is as immediately striking as his intellect.
Moen, a graduate of Bloomington (Minnesota) Jefferson High School, entered the University of Minnesota in 2005 and decided to try out for the football team as a walk-on—“an uninvited walk-on,” he emphasizes. He decided his best shot at making the team was to learn as many position as he could—offense, defense, and special teams—so he redshirted his first year (that is, skipped a year of play without losing eligibility) and spent the season honing his skills. “Being a quick learner gets you to the front of the line, and the quickest way to the front is through the weight room,” he says.
“Being a quick learner gets you to the front of the line, and the quickest way to the front is through the weight room,” he says.
Indeed, Moen weighed in his first year at 236 pounds and began his senior year at 281. The versatility he acquired through diligent practice paid off: He earned playing time on the offensive line beginning his sophomore year and in the course of the season made a successful transition to defensive tackle. By his junior year he was seeing action in every game as a reserve defensive lineman, and in his senior season he had earned a starting spot at defensive end. Through it all, Moen retained his focus on his studies, achieving Academic All-Big Ten honors his sophomore junior, and senior years.
Moen’s unwavering determination comes in part from his family, who year in and year out have formed their own cheering section at his games, “My family is definitely the most important thing to me,” he says. His brother, Hunter, a student at the U, sister, Alex (B.S. ’08), parents Aimee and Barrett along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins attended all of his games. His uncle Brad Moen was a high school standout whose Golden Gopher career was cut short by a knee injury. Another uncle, Matt Herkenhoff, played for the Gophers in the early 1970s and went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs for 10 years.
Eventually Moen would like to work for a technology company. But his immediate post-graduate ambition is to take a shot at making the roster of an NFL team. He is confident that he can will his way onto a team by taking the familiar path of being a walk-on. “Getting into the NFL isn’t an exact science,” says the engineering grad. Impressive, yes, but for Moen, no big deal.