Final game for Camp Hill trio

For The Recorder
Thursday, November 30, 2017

AMHERST — Win or lose, when the plane lands Saturday night, it’ll be over. The season that reunited three natives of little Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, for one year on the UMass football season will be over.

Adam Breneman, Andrew Ford and Bryton Barr will go back to their apartment on Gray Street one more time to either celebrate a season-ending victory or rue a defeat at FIU.

On Sunday morning, Breneman will be gone and Barr will begin focusing on the decisions facing his future. Only Ford is certain to be a Minuteman in 2018.

None of the trio even considered UMass when they started their careers. Ford and Breneman, who were close friends at Cedar Cliff High School, signed with Virginia Tech and Penn State, respectively. Barr, who played across town at rival Mechanicsburg High School, began his career at Towson.

“I was scared of Bryton in high school,” Breneman said. “He’s crazy. He’s not someone you want to meet in the open field. I tried to stay away from him in high school when we played against him. We got close once high school ended, when we started working out together. He’s such a goof ball off the field. He’s such a good dude.”

Ford left Blacksburg, Virgina, after a year, spent a year in junior college and transferred to UMass in the summer of 2016. Breneman chose UMass a few weeks later, more because of a comfort level with UMass coach Mark Whipple than his friendship with Ford. Whipple’s son Austin had been a walk-on for the Nittany Lions and Breneman got close with the family. He had graduated from Penn State in three years and had given up football due to injuries.

But when his knee got healthy his itch to play returned and he joined the Whipples and Ford at UMass.

A year later, Breneman and Ford helped sell Whipple on Barr. It wasn’t a sure thing. Barr was an FCS player coming off a collection of injuries that had cost him three seasons. The NCAA granted him two additional years of eligibility.

“I talked to him last year about transferring to UMass. I approached Coach Whipple about him. It was hard selling at first,” Breneman said. “I didn’t think they were going to offer him at first. It worked out better than any of us had ever imagined.”

All three had outstanding seasons. Breneman could be an All-American tight end with 58 catches for 715 yards and three touchdowns. He solidified his status as a likely NFL draft choice.

In his second year starting at quarterback, Ford completed 193 of 309 throws for 2,575 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Barr, who thought he’d be a special teams player, moved into the starting lineup at middle linebacker when Shane Huber’s season was ended by a knee injury in the preseason. He leads UMass with 93 tackles and registered four sacks and an interception.

Breneman will move out Sunday. He intentionally took all his classes online this semester so he can begin training for the NFL.

Barr will finish out the semester, but he might take a similar approach. He already has a degree. If he’s going to take a shot at a pro career, he’s coming off the best season of his life and is as healthy as he’s been in college. At 24, he’s already old for a collegiate player. If he’s going to take a shot, he might do so before any more tread comes off his tires. Last month, Barr said he planned to take a few days with his family after the season, before making a decision. He said the season on and off the field was what he’d hoped it would be.

“It was for sure. I never got to live with pretty good friends before that,” Barr said. “It was a fun ride for sure. I’m kind of sad to see it end.”

Ford could be the lone remaining member of Camp Hill’s mini-Amherst colony as he’ll lead a UMass offense that will have everyone back except Breneman.