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Draft Diaries: Call from Vikings Meant Wardrobe Change for 'Cali Boy' Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr declined the NFL's invite to attend the 2014 NFL Draft in New York City.

The UCLA linebacker opted instead for the other side of the country, staying at home in California to enjoy a draft day party with his family and closest friends.

"They've all played a big part in my success and helping me get to where I am now," Barr said recently. "Being invited to New York, you can only bring two or three people, and that just wasn't going to work with the big support group I had back home."

Barr called May 8, 2014, a "special day" that involved multiple emotions.

"It was a really fun day. Kind of some nerves and some anxiety, not really knowing what was going to happen. Because I truly had no idea where or when I would get selected," he said. "Fortunately, it was sooner rather than later, and we had a really nice celebration."

You can say that again.

Barr didn't wait long at all, as the Vikings used the No. 9 overall pick to get their guy.

When the Minnesota area code lit up Barr's phone screen, he initially considered the wardrobe revamp that lay ahead.

"I had just been there like a month prior and it was snowing," he recalled. "So I was like, 'Man, I better

get some snow gear. I'm a Cali boy – I've got nothing but flip flops and swim trunks. That was my first task.

"And secondly, just truly thankful and blessed to have the opportunity – the Wilf family and [General Manager] Rick Spielman and Coach Zim' giving me the chance to be a Viking," Barr added. "It's been an incredible experience so far, and hopefully we can keep this ride going."

His connection with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer runs deep.

Zimmer had taken the helm in Minnesota nearly four months prior, making Barr his first-ever draft pick as an NFL head coach. The two have spent the entirety of their Vikings careers together thus far, thanks to Barr's decision last March to re-sign and stay in Purple.

Barr said he "doesn't take it lightly" that Zimmer felt strongly about selecting him six years ago.

"He trusted me. We've had our ups and downs, and we've had our successes and our failures, but one thing that's always remained is the respect, and we've always worked hard," Barr said. "Regardless of what the circumstance was or if we're winning or losing, we always remain kind of the same person – doing our routine and going about our business the right way.

"[And] I think we've had more ups than downs," he added.

After Barr celebrated with friends and family at his draft party, he didn't wait long to connect with Bruins teammate and fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Little did Barr know, his message to Kendricks would be more foreshadowing than encouragement.

"I told him, 'You're next.' And it was pretty true," Barr said with a laugh.

Fast forward to 2015. With his rookie season behind him, Barr mingled with fans at the Vikings Draft Party Thursday night and watched teams make their first-round picks.

He waited to hear NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announce Kendricks' name, but it didn't happen that evening. Thirteen picks into Round 2 the next day, however, the Vikings were on the clock – and drafted Kendricks with the 54th overall spot.

Asked if the two of them had ever discussed the possibility, Barr said the chances hadn't even warranted much of a conversation.

"It was always more so that we supported one another," Barr said. "Wherever he went, wherever I went, whatever the situation was, we had an understanding that we were going to be there for one another.

View throwback photos of Vikings LB Anthony Barr arriving to the team facility from 2014 after he was drafted.

"I didn't really think it was going to be a thing until it was," he added.

Since Kendricks joined the Vikings five seasons ago, he and Barr have combined for 1,055 tackles (coaches' tally), 20 sacks, six interceptions, 72 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 67 passes defensed.

It's a unique situation to share an NFL locker room with a college teammate, to be sure, but Barr and Kendricks aren't the only ones in Minnesota to have that story. In 2018, the Vikings signed Texas cornerback Holton Hill as an undrafted free agent a year before tabbing his Longhorns teammate Kris Boyd.

"It's fun, and it definitely just adds a level of comfortability. I think it makes the transition a little easier, having somebody you're close with and can experience all these changes and all these new experiences with," Barr said. "I think it eases the transition a little bit, maybe allows you to open up a little more earlier on, and you can settle in and kind of get to work without feeling too uncomfortable.

"Hopefully they can have success like we've had," he added of Hill and Boyd.