Before earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, and before leading West Virginia to an upset win against No. 15 Virginia Tech, redshirt sophomore Jared Bartlett dealt with loss, and with loss came a new life within his own game.
Earlier this summer, Bartlett’s brother passed away. With that passing came a renewed purpose, and according to head coach Neal Brown, it was excellent to see the hard work pay off for Bartlett.
“He had a great summer, he had a really good fall camp, and then he just did not play as well the first two games for whatever reason,” Brown said.
In June, Bartlett’s brother Richard was killed in a hit-and-run in Georgia. After suffering through that tragedy, it has been evident, that Bartlett has a new mindset everyday.
“Once that happened, he’s had a renewed focus, a seriousness about his preparation,” Brown said.
What has Bartlett taken away from his brother?
“With my brother passing away it put a lot of things into perspective,” Bartlett said. “Just not taking everyday for granted. Just trying to do the best I can do. Just trying to live up to his legacy— everything he taught me while he was here.”
That renewed focus and new perspective showed on Saturday. Bartlett recorded three sacks and three tackles for a loss.
“I was extremely pleased for him that [his work] paid off in a game situation, much less a rivalry game, in a couple huge moments for us,” Brown said.
Bartlett said remembering his brother helps him focus on football, trying to keep a positive attitude on a daily basis.
“He always looked at things in a positive light. And that’s useful especially in the game of football. When you focus on the negative it’s hard to improve,” Bartlett said.
As for during the game on Saturday, Bartlett’s willingness to stay positive and improve helped him find success.
Brown said Bartlett went to defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley and said he wanted to rush the quarterback rather than try special technique to get around the offensive line. Lesley agreed to let Bartlett rush, and Brown said to Bartlett’s credit, it led to success.
“Me and coach Lesley have a pretty good relationship, so when I told him that I had an advantage he took a leap of faith and trusted me,” Bartlett said.
Moving forward, Bartlett will use the example his brother set, and his new way of approaching everyday life to try and help the Mountaineers compete in the Big 12.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography