Barnett to be inducted into Hall of Fame for years of terrorizing quarterbacks

By Lindsay Travis

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The strongest addition to this year’s UK Athletics Hall of Fame induction class is former defensive end Oliver Barnett.

Barnett was a four-year letterman with the Cats from 1986 to 1989 under head coach Jerry Claiborne.

“The thing he was most known for was sacking the quarterback,” said Tony Neely, a UK media relations director who participated in the voting.

The Jeffersontown native still holds UK’s all-time quarterback sack record with 26 sacks.

“For me, to still hold the sack record for the time and age where everybody is pass happy, I think that’s a pretty significant accomplishment,” Barnett said.

Barnett 850-pound squat lift also holds the record today, according to UK Athletics.

Barnett remembers the camaraderie he had with his teammates during his time at UK.

“We all had to live in the dorms together. I don’t think the players do that now,” Barnett said. “But when we did it there wasn’t a whole lot of outside distractions like there are now.”

Barnett particularly remembers the game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., during the 1987 season. He said in the week leading up to the game he made some comments predicting his performance in that game.

“We ended up losing the game, obviously. But I did have I think two quarterback sacks, caused a fumble and maybe recovered a fumble,” Barnett said. “Actually, the guy who was starting as the tackle for (the Tigers) was traded out for another guy during the game because he wasn’t doing a very good job keeping me out of their backfield.”

Barnett logged 271 career tackles, 12 forced fumbles and 43 career tackles for loss during his four years with the Cats, according to UK Athletics.

“He was a player that just had tremendous strength and physical ability and built on that while he was here,” Neely said. “He turned that into tremendous pass-rush ability.”

In his junior season, Barnett was named to the honorable-mention All-America and second-team All-SEC teams, according to UK Athletics. Barnett followed with a senior campaign in which he earned third-team All-America and first-team All-SEC honors.

For his performance on the field and in strength training, he was also named to the National Strength Coaches Association All-American Team.

In 1990, Barnett was selected with the 55th overall pick, in the third round, of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.

After three seasons with Atlanta, he played two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, one ending in a trip to Super Bowl XXVII. He would finish his career in 1995 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Barnett said he’s honored to be chosen for the Hall of Fame.

“I’m very appreciative that they’re giving me an opportunity to represent the University of Kentucky by being placed in the Hall of Fame,” he said.