Then came high school and a crop of kids who'd almost never dealt with defeat had to handle a bunch all at once. Many had been spoiled by the experience and the expectations of victory growing up and Barber said that spoiled the high school squad.
"Honestly, we were stacked," Barber said. "We had a bunch of kids who should be right where I am. They should be playing Division I ball. But they got into some stuff and went down the wrong road.
"A lot of people took losing hard when we got to high school. Some guys quit and said, 'I'm not playing for a loser.' I think if we had lost some when we were younger, that would have helped us a lot. Some of the guys would have been able to handle losing."
That, Barber said, explains WVU's success last season. The Mountaineers suffered through and after three losses, but Barber believes each served a purpose.
"I honestly think losing can be 10 times more powerful than winning a big game," he said.
The Mountaineers lost 47-21 at home against LSU even though it was a 27-21 score in the third quarter.
Then came another 26-point loss at Syracuse, a team that struggled to score most of the season, but managed 49 points against WVU. The Mountaineers then had a field goal blocked and returned for a decisive touchdown in a 38-35 home loss to Louisville.
Without those experiences, Barber, who made 23 tackles in 12 games last season, isn't sure what happens for the Mountaineers.
"I don't fear losing, but it's definitely powerful," he said. "It's kind of interesting in a way. You don't ever want to lose. You want to win no matter what. It doesn't matter if you're playing checkers, you want to win, but eventually you're going to lose, no matter who you are. What you do after you lose, how you prepare for the next game so you don't lose again, is what matters."
Winning at this stage of his career isn't entirely new to Barber, though. In his senior season, Davie County was 5-6 in the regular season, but upset four teams in the playoffs and made it all the way to the Class 4A championship game.
The War Eagles lost 40-0 and Barber was again reminded about taking winning for granted. It's something he hasn't forgotten.
"The Orange Bowl was last year," he said. "This is a different team, a different defense, different coaches. We'll get our ring down the road and everyone will be happy and excited, but that was my freshman year. We're trying a national championship. I think we know better than to settle for just the Orange Bowl."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.