Breakout freshman shows promise for Owl’s future

Freshman Draven Barnett has carved out a key role since joining the Owls and has cemented himself as a starting midfielder for years to come.

Freshman midfielder Draven Barnett is proving himself early in the year as a valuable piece for men’s soccer. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Since arriving at Temple, Men’s Soccer freshman midfielder Draven Barnett has established himself as a pivotal player for the Owls. Barnett leads the team in minutes played with 645 and has only been substituted out of a game once in eight starts.  

Barnett, who has a versatile skillset, hasn’t been confined to the midfield position either. The freshman has proved to be a flexible asset on a Temple team in dire need of a spark. 

“It’s always good to have players that are high-level that can give you flexibility and you can shift around,” said head coach Brian Rowland. 

Barnett has played a complimentary role on a defensive line that ranks at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference in goals against average, with a rate of 2.14 goals against per game. He can’t be everywhere at once, but the Owls force more turnovers when the freshman is behind the ball.  

His work ethic on the field stems from a youth career at Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City Academy. Barnett used off days as training opportunities, perfecting his passing and becoming one of the fittest players on the team, playing all 90 minutes in six of the eight games he’s started.  

“While I was with Sporting KC, I developed a lot,” Barnett said. “Even with an injury, when it came time for scouts, I felt confident in my ability still that they taught me.” 

After three seasons with the U16/U17 Sporting KC youth academy from 2019 to 2021, Barnett made the move to play Division I soccer and was offered a full scholarship to come to Temple. He is receiving more exposure on the field in The American than he would have at the U19 MLS division.  

Barnett isn’t the only Sporting KC alum on Temple’s roster, both junior forward Sean Karani and freshman midfielder George Medill spent time in the academy. Karani and Medill have cemented themselves as sources of energy who are consistently looking to make a difference in games by putting emphasis on moving the ball into the opponents attack area. Sporting KC provided all three with intangibles like open field vision and composure on the ball.  

Barnett and Medill are both freshmen, but Medill admits Barnett can play like a true veteran on the field, helping facilitate in the midfield and direct the defense. 

“We can joke and play around,” Medill said. “But when it comes time to be serious, that’s where Draven really steps up.”  

Barnett, one of 12 freshmen on Temple’s squad, has solidified himself as a cornerstone piece for Temple’s championship aspirations moving forward. While he has served quality minutes, the team is still faltering.  

The Owls have started conference play with a 0-2 record, placing them second-to-last in the American, ahead of only the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2-6, 0-2 The American).  

Barnett does not appear on the stat sheet in the ways his teammates may, largely due to Temple’s lack of production on offense, constantly forcing the freshman to focus on defense while on the field.  

“He can give you that flexibility to have him as a midfielder, but also sometimes defense is the best decision for him on the team,” Rowland said. 

Despite offensive struggles, Barnett still believes that he can improve as an individual player, and as a teammate.  

“I love the culture here,” Barnett said. “I love my teammates, I just want to have more of a vocal presence on the field.” 

If Barnett can take command of a midfield in need of a leader, he can play a big role in Temple’s future. But for now, the promising freshman needs to use every minute he is on the field to provide game-changing energy for an Owls team in flux. 

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