William Long and Miller Barnett have before been down this road. The two of them grew up in the same Clarksville, Tennessee and played in the same Junior Pro program (Packers). They won numerous championships together over the course of that former journey.
William Long, upon leaving the Clarksville Junior Pro league, moved to Kentucky and developed into a three-time, Kentucky All-State first team player. Long inked with Centre College out of Breathitt High School in Centre’s class of ’25. Long’s Centre trek would bring him back in touch with a childhood memory and teammate.
Miller Barnett has just pledged himself to the Colonels. He will enter with the class of ’26. He, too, is an All-State, first-team football player but from Tennessee, not Kentucky.
You’ll have to forgive Long and Barnett if their playing together at Centre should spark an athletic Déjà vu. Déjà vu is French for “already seen.”
These two players have already seen the net result from their playing together. The last time it netted multiple league titles and several perfect seasons.
Long and Barnett joining back up for college football is an Odyssey coming back around, full circle. The Centre faithful can only hope it works out similarly this time.
William Long still has very fond memories of his playing football with Miller Barnett. He was happy to share those memories with us.
“Back in Junior Pro, we played for a coach named Steven Kelley. I can’t speak for Miller, but it would be college before I encountered another coach even approaching the kind of coach Kelley was for me and what he meant to me as both a coach and a mentor,” Long shared.
“Coach Kelley had us practice on a strip of land on Tiny Town Road in Clarksville, Tennessee. One of the fathers owned, maintained, and provided it for our practices.”
“You could kind of say Miller Barnett and I were forged in the fires of competition Coach Kelley perpetually stoked on Tiny Town Road,” William Long told KPGFootball. “It’s like Miller and I are in the midst of a reunion.”
We were able to reach Coach Steven Kelley for this article. Coach Kelley has just moved to Franklin, Tennessee via Austin, Texas where he lived for just a few years upon removing from Clarksville.
Kelley lived in Clarksville when he coached Long and Barnett. He was happy to reminisce about his former protégés.
“I remember Long and Barnett both being superior football players even when they were just kids. Long was always super strong and surprisingly coordinated and quick for a kid of his heft and Barnett has always best been described as a football player’s, football player; even when he was young.”
Kelley continued, “I am not at all surprised the two of them are on a college roster. I am thrilled they are on the same college roster.”
“Who knows, maybe one or both of them will remember to leave a ticket for their old ball coach some Saturday. I would love to get to watch them play together.”
“Old coaches live for moments like this. I don’t know who will be crying harder in the grandstand, Mrs. Kelley or me. It will be highly competitive.”
We weren’t able to reach Miller Barnett at the time this article was being written. Barnett had just enjoyed his own signing day, inking with the Colonels together with two high school teammates, Zach Flores and Lane Sutherland. All three players were fresh off fine prep careers at Williamson County’s Battle Ground Academy in Tennessee.
Long and the rest of the Colonels are in the throws of offseason work toward the team’s upcoming trip to Ireland to do battle with an Irish professional (American) football team. After the game this spring, the Colonels have a mind toward making a run for the Southern Athletic Association title and a NCAA-bid.
Centre was 8-2 in 2021. The Colonels were in the conference race to the bitter end. Centre has an opportunity to be better in ’22, especially in light of the class it has signed and will be bringing in to solidify its roster.
Long and Barnett will be together. It has been a few years, but that combination has always before worked out just fine for whatever team boasted the pair’s roster inclusion.
It should make for quite the reunion. We’re glad we have front row seats to watch it all transpire.
This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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