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October 24, 2008Last season, Memphis (Tenn.) University School had a good football team, finishing a respectable 7-4 in Tennessee's competitive private school division.
During the season, sophomore quarterback Barry Brunetti began the progression into varsity action. He split snaps and did some on-the-job training, displaying impressive athleticism in the process.
As a junior this season, Brunetti has taken over as the fulltime starter for the Owls and he has propelled them to an undefeated season.
"We're basically just keeping it balanced between passing and running every game," Brunetti said of the offense. "Most games we've been blowing people out. There's only been two or three games where I've played the whole game."
With Brunetti at the helm, MUS is averaging more than 40 points and has been doing it against some formidable opponents, including local public school power Memphis Melrose and Mississippi juggernaut Olive Branch High School.
This season's success began last season.
"Last year I was more of the Tebow-type," Brunetti said. "I came in last year and ran more in the short yardage. I was more of the running quarterback. During the season last year, the coach always told me he wanted to start me as a sophomore but he didn't think I was ready. After the season, I knew I was going to start as a junior, so I ran every day and worked on my passing every day."
Brunetti (6 feet 2/210 pounds) has a strong frame and great speed, and always has been a threat with the ball in his hands. This season, Brunetti is proving that he is a passer, too, something he always has been confident about.
"My accuracy has always been good," he said. "Mostly it was just mechanics, so every day I worked on my mechanics, worked on my mechanics, over and over. I've always had good accuracy and a strong arm."
The taste of varsity action seems to have paid off. Not only has MUS found success as a team but Brunetti has found a comfort level behind center, throwing for nine touchdown passes and rushing for 14 more.
"I feel very comfortable this year," he said. "It's easy to me. I know all the defenses. It's real easy to me this year. Most of the teams that play me, they think run first. I have so many teams busting up with eight or nine in the box, and that's where my passing comes in. Now, with me being balanced, it's hard for them to do what they want to do."
Though Brunetti is likely to be an elite prospect in the class of 2010, he is still waiting for that first official offer.
"A lot of schools are very close," he said. "Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Texas Tech, Clemson, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Oregon - I like them all. But I really like Florida. I've been liking them for a while. Right now, I just look at all of the teams that are recruiting me and just watch them and watch who they are. What kind of offense do they run? What kind of coaches and what kind of fans do they have? I love the fan base."
This season, Brunetti has had the opportunity to catch a couple of college games on unofficial visits. He has been to games at Memphis and Tennessee and hopes to get to LSU before the season is out. His trip to Knoxville to see Tennessee play Northern Illinois left him with a strong impression.
"What I love about Tennessee is their fan base," he said. "Whether they're bad or good, they always support them. I like Tennessee. That's a nice place."
The offers will come soon enough for Brunetti, but until they do, he has a state championship run to focus on.
"The coaches tell us every day that we have a chance at doing something special but we try to never overlook a team," he said. "Every week it's 0-0 and we're focusing on that."