Off the Bench: BHS Alumna Mentus Tackling Wedding Plans as Fiancé Tackles NFL Foes
By Jeff Toquinto on December 16, 2012
“It was one of those question lists asking what’s your favorite television show and things like that,” Mentus, a 2006 BHS grad, said. “Where it asked what you want to do when you’re older, he wrote that he wanted to be an NFL football player.”
That doesn’t sound unusual for many first graders. What is unusual is that the mother-in-law was Dana Barclay and the fiancé is Donny Barclay. For those needing a reminder, Barclay is a 6’4, 305 pound offensive lineman that started 39 straight games for West Virginia University. And by the way, he’s actually playing in the National Football League right now.
“Looking at that list made me laugh that he actually is playing in the NFL. I found a similar list from when I think I was in the third grade and I said I planned on playing in the WNBA,” Mentus said. “That didn’t work out as planned.”
In fairness to Mentus, she did end up playing some basketball. She was quite a talented guard for some of Coach Dave Marshall’s best teams. Although that didn’t translate into the WNBA or even a Division I scholarship, Mentus stayed around sports when she migrated north a few miles to attend WVU. She entered athletic training (she earned her degree in that in 2010) and, from there, she ended up meeting Barclay.
“I ended up doing athletic training for the football team and that’s really how we met. He continually agitated me. It was non-stop; he was even throwing some things at me,” Mentus laughed. “We ended up becoming best friends and started watching Steelers games together. We were probably friends for a year and a half before we started dating.”
That dating eventually led to a proposal. And it will soon lead to wedding bells. In fact, Mentus said the pair will get hitched March 16 in Morgantown.
Of course, Mentus admits she should be knee deep in wedding planning right now. In recent weeks, however, that’s taken a bit of a back seat.
Barclay, who’s managed to overcome odds most of his athletic life, did so again this year. He went from being undrafted, to fighting to make the 53-man roster as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers, to seeing special teams play, to backing up on the offensive line to – now – starting for one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports.
Because of that path to success, Mentus said it’s been a very nerve-wracking time. She said it’s likely been more stressful on her than him.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve been more nervous about it than he has been. I think the reason for that is that he’s always been an under-the-radar guy,” the 24-year-old Mentus said. “He wasn’t a five-star recruit coming out of high school and going into the draft, even though he they said he could go in the sixth or seventh round, he was prepared for not getting drafted. He’s been in this type of situation before and it’s always worked out.”
Shortly after the NFL draft this past year, Barclay found himself signing in May with Green Bay as a free agent. The first order of business was for him to make the squad, but if he didn’t, Mentus said they felt good that Barclay’s Business Management degree from WVU was more than just a safety net.
“If it worked out, we knew it was God’s plan for him,” Mentus said. “We also knew there was a chance it wouldn’t work out.”
While the future was uncertain at that point, what wasn’t uncertain was that Barclay would go full tilt in trying to shape the future in the manner in which he wanted. Mentus said that’s the one thing she’s seen since she’s met him that is an absolute given, and it’s taken him to where he is today.
“He’s just a hard worker. I can remember after he graduated and he was training for Pro Day. He was diagnosed with pneumonia prior to that and had to overcome it,” said Mentus. “Seeing those things let me know that he would go all out for this incredible opportunity.”
And the opportunity became reality.
“I was so happy, but it was so nerve wracking. He handled the early practices well and seemed just fine, but I think I aged 10 years,” she joked.
Barclay was one of four undrafted rookies that made the squad. Of course, making it onto the roster and making it onto the field as a starter is just as difficult a journey as getting the chance to make the team.
On the field in a playing capacity is where Barclay eventually found himself two weeks ago. With injuries forcing some players to move around, an eventual injury to right tackle T.J. Lang saw Barclay pressed into the lineup against the Minnesota Vikings. He played well enough to get the start last week against Detroit and will start this week against Chicago. While that in itself is certainly exciting, Barclay could be a contributor in a potential win that would lock up a playoff spot.
“He goes 100 miles per hour in one direction and that’s how he is … He’s the kind of guy who embraces his opportunity and goes and gets it,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said in a recent published report.
That has Barclay and his soon-to-be Bridgeport bride enjoying one heckuva ride.
“It’s definitely been an experience for us and we’re thankful to God for it,” Mentus said. “I’m going to try and learn to not be so nervous so I can actually calm down before the second half of a game starts.”
Of course, there’s also a wedding plan to tend to. Living in Green Bay, coming back to West Virginia and having the actual marriage in Morgantown just adds to the fun.
“I’m pretty laid back so I’m not stressing about it too much. I’ve got to put the football on the backburner. I realize the wedding’s getting closer so I really need to focus on that and divide my time up better,” Mentus said. “I guess I haven’t enjoyed the wedding planning because I’ve been so excited about him playing. It’s coming up fast.”
Real fast. Mentus will just have to do what her fiancé is doing. She’ll have to tackle it head on.