COLUMBUS, Ohio -- You may think you'd never catch an Ohio State Buckeye wearing blue. You might think again after meeting Ohio State football alumnus C.J. Barnett.
A three-year defensive starter and former team captain, Barnett suited up in the enemy colors Friday, but not to play football. Instead, he's joining the Columbus Division of Police as one of its brand-new officers on the street.
Barnett graduated the Columbus Police Academy on Friday with 44 other recruits, joining Central Ohio police departments including Westerville, New Albany and Grove City.
Barnett will work in the city of Columbus, and tells ABC 6/FOX 28 he is happy to give back to the city he loves.
"I had the privilege to be cheered on by the city of Columbus," Barnett said of his college career. "They've done me well, coming to games and being the reason why I was able to earn a scholarship."
"One big thing that the community should know is that we care, and we will do whatever it takes to protect and serve them," he said.
A five-year member with the Buckeye football team, Barnett had a short stint as an undrafted free agent in the National Football League and got a shot to play with the New York Giants.
Once he left the pros, the criminology degree-holder said he knew he wanted to be in law enforcement.
On Friday, Barnett was quick to deflect the attention given to him, insisting that he be surrounded by a group of fellow Academy graduates during an interview.
He did use his connections to ask coach Urban Meyer to speak after the graduation ceremony. Meyer gave a 15-minute private speech following a luncheon with the recruits.
"This is one of the things I'm most honored to do in my life, address the people I have so much respect for," Meyer said in a Facebook video recorded by Columbus Police.
Barnett said his football career helped him prepare for police life, but it could not teach him everything about the job.
"Football has high pressure situations. If you gave up a touchdown, they'd probably yell at you on Twitter," he said. "In this job, lives are at stake.
"This job ain't easy, and it's not for everyone," Barnett said.