Peyton Barber's decision to leave Auburn University early and enter the NFL Draft came as a surprise to many. On Wednesday, while speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the former Tiger running back explained why he felt pressure to leave the world of amateurism and begin earning a paycheck right away.
"It was just because there were some things I was going through with my family," Barber said, via AL.com. "I don't know if anybody knows: my mom, she's homeless right now."
Barber's mother, Lori, is currently living with Peyton's 27-year-old sister along with three grandchildren in a Fulton County, Ga. apartment. Lori and Peyton's father, Ken, divorced when Peyton was in first grade. The kids stuck with Lori, who spent 12 years working in special education but is currently on disability after being involved in six different car accidents, according to AL.com.
"It touches my heart that he feels so deeply about wanting to take care of me," Lori 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)."
Barber also added that the decision to leave school early and enter the draft was all his.
"She never pressured me to do anything," he said to reporters on Wednesday, via NFL.com. "I just decided to do what's best for me and my family."
Barber was born in Alpharetta, Ga. and attended Milton High School. He signed with Auburn in 2013 and redshirted his first year. The next season Barber appeared in six games and, following a string of injuries to the players ahead of him on the depth chart, took over the team's starting running back duties last season and rushed for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Still, few experts expect him to be selected in the draft's early rounds. He will get a chance to help his stock on Friday, when Barber, along with the rest of this year's running back prospects, will work out in front of NFL teams at the combine.