BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes is no longer a secret weapon. The pesky playmaker has become a triple threat as a quarterback, receiver and running back.
Barnes is college football's version of Antwaan Randle El.
Ironically, Barnes was born in the Chicago suburb of Harvey, Ill., which is the same town where Randle El and his brother, Marcus, a receiver at Wisconsin, attended high school.
Freddie moved to the south side of the Windy City in third grade, but he played against Marcus in high school and still keeps in touch with Antwaan, who jumped from the Super Bowl champion Steelers to the Redskins in the offseason.
Barnes, expected to start at quarterback in place of injured Anthony Turner tomorrow against Kent State, recounted a conversation he had with Antwaan Randle El this summer.
"We talked about a lot of different things for about 10 minutes and he told me, 'Freddie, with Omar [Jacobs] gone, you need to trust your abilities and your leadership qualities,'•" Barnes said.
"He said, 'If you get a chance to show off your versatility, take advantage of it.'•"
Barnes, a 6-foot-2, 206-pound redshirt freshman, has taken Randle El's advice to heart.
Why not? Randle El, a quarterback at Indiana, is the only Division I player to pass for more than 6,000 yards and run for more than 3,000. And he also is the only one to throw for more than 40 touchdowns and rush for more than 40.
His production hasn't slacked off in the NFL. He has starred in multiple roles as a passer, runner, receiver and returner.
Barnes has a long way to go to catch Randle El statistically, but his career is off to a quick start.
Barnes has rushed for four touchdowns in three games, thrown for one and been on the receiving end of another.
Although he has started just one game, Barnes is the top rushing quarterback in the country, averaging 109 yards per game. And he's fourth in the nation in scoring, averaging 12 points per contest.
Six days ago, Barnes scored three ways in BG's 33-28 win at Florida International - the first BG player to do so since Josh Harris in 2001.
He caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Turner in the first quarter, threw a three-yarder to Sean O'Drobinak in the second and scored on a seven-yard scamper in the fourth after replacing Turner, who injured his left shoulder.
"Freddie's a fun player to coach and watch," BG coach Gregg Brandon said.
So far, Barnes has proven to be a better scrambler than thrower. He has rushed for a team-high 327 yards, including 158 in the opener against Wisconsin, when he made his first collegiate start at quarterback in place of Turner, serving a one-game suspension after he and a former teammate were cited for marijuana possession.
But Barnes, a two-sport high school star who led Homewood-Flossmoor to a runner-up finish in the Illinois state basketball tournament in 2004, has completed 20 of 33 passes for 149 yards and no interceptions.
Barnes is such a good athlete, he could return kicks and punts or play safety.
"I'm just happy to be on the field," Barnes said. "I'll do whatever they ask."
Call him Fast Freddie or Steady Freddie. Either one fits.