Among the underclassmen to declare for this year's NFL draft, former Auburnrunning back Peyton Barber is one of the more unexpected entrants. His motivation to go pro was equally surprising.
Barber, who rushed for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomorelast season, told reporters Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine that his mom's living situation spurred him to forgo his final two years of eligibility at Auburn to pursue an NFL paycheck.
"My mother is homeless right now," Barber said. "Right now, she's staying with her sister. It's her and her three kids staying in an apartment back home."
Barber, who was one of 24 running backs invited to Indianapolis for the combine, said his mother has been only uplifting and supportive as he readies for a Friday workout that he hopes will raise his draft outlook.
"She really just asks me if I'm OK and how I'm doing," he said. "She never pressured me to do anything. I just decided to do what's best for me and my family."
Barber is jockeying for draft position against better-known backs such as Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, Heisman Trophy winnerDerrick Henryof Alabama,and Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise.
Barber indicated that his family's current struggles are not its first.
"This isn't her first [struggle]," he said. "It's nothing new. It's just a little bump in the road for us. We'll overcome it."
Lori Barber is both upbeat and realistic about her family's situation.
"Homelessness is a strong definition," shetold AL.com. "Do I have a home of my own? I do not. Do I have a bed of my own? I don't. Where we're living is a little crowded, but we're making it work. We're taking our 50 cents and stretching it out to make it a dollar."
Lori said she lives with her 27-year-old daughter (Peyton's sister) and three grandchildren in a small apartment in north Fulton County in Georgia.
She intimated she was taken aback by her son's desire and decision to provide for her and expressed a grateful attitude to him.
"It touches my heart that he feels so deeply about wanting to take care of me," Lori Barber told AL.com. "Peyton is very quiet. ... I had no idea he was feeling that strongly as he was feeling until he decided to come out [for the draft]."
Peyton Barber, whose cousins Marion and Dominique Barber played in the NFL, is projected to be a middle-round pick in April's draft. He originally struggled with the playbook at Auburn because of ADHD and dyslexia and considered transferring after not winning the starting job in 2013 or 2014. But he was voted Auburn's offensive MVP in 2015, although he wasn't used as often late in the season asJovon Robinsonbecame a primary ball carrier.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.