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Brannon Barry first saw the Illinois State campus in 2007 when his sister, Alicia, was in Bloomington-Normal as a St. Charles East outside hitter with the girls volleyball team competing in the Class 4A semifinals.
Next year he'll be able to host her.
The Saints senior wide receiver on Monday pledged his verbal commitment to the Redbirds. Brannon follows older siblings Bryce, a starting linebacker at Butler; and Erienne, a freshman volleyball player at Western Michigan, as the latest college athlete of parents Blake and Donna Barry.
Brannon Barry had a tough call to make Monday to his other college suitor, Western Illinois.
"I have all the respect in the world for Western Illinois, it's hard to tell someone like that," he said. "But Illinois State felt like the right fit for me and I'm very, very happy to be a Redbird."
Barry, who also had interest from Colgate, North Dakota State and Yale, most recently visited Illinois State and Western Illinois on consecutive weekends, following playoff-bound St. Charles East's own football games.
"Going through all my visits the last two years I've seen a lot of college campuses," he said. "I envisioned what kind of college campus I would be at, and when I went to Illinois State it felt like somewhere that could be home for me. It felt like somewhere I could rest my head for four years."
Barry, 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, gives opposing prep coaches little time to rest.
This season he's caught 41 passes for 644 yards and 5 touchdowns, and has also scored on a running play and on a kickoff return — his 94-yarder to open Friday's 55-14 win over Larkin. Defensively, at safety he's credited with a team-high 33 tackles along with a sack and 2 interceptions.
A prospective business student who played right field for the Saints' third-place Class 4A baseball team last spring, Barry said it was the right time for him commit, and head coach Brock Spack's Redbirds are the right fit as a destination and as an offense.
"They play physical, they spread things out," Barry said. "They're not afraid to go out there and throw some deep balls and take some chances, which I like a lot."