HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — That Spring Valley’s Ty Bartrum won the Carl Lee Award as the premier high school defensive back in West Virginia might have meant more to his dad than the player.
Mike Bartrum, Ty’s father, was an All-American tight end at Marshall University, where Lee starred as a cornerback and safety from 1979 through 1982 with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints before an 11-year career in the NFL. Mike Bartrum, who played for the Thundering Herd from 1989 through 1992, played 13 seasons in the NFL with Kansas City, Green Bay, New England and Philadelphia.
“I didn’t really know Carl when I was at Marshall,” Mike Bartrum said. “We met a couple of times. Then during my first preseason game with Kansas City we were playing the Vikings and Carl came over to me in pregame and made me feel like he’d known me my whole life. We talked five or 10 minutes and now we have a relationship, a part of that Herd brotherhood. It’s an honor for Ty to win the Lee Award.”
Ty Bartrum earned the honor, as well as the Huff Award as the top defensive player in the state. The captain of the Class AAA all-state defense, Bartrum made 77 tackles and intercepted nine passes last season to help the Timberwolves to a 9-3 record and the second round of the playoffs. Bartrum likely solidified the Lee Award when he picked off two passes in a 35-30 victory over eventual state champion Martinsburg in the regular-season finale.
Bartrum is the second Spring Valley player to win the Huff Award, named for former West Virginia University All-American Sam Huff, joining Elijah Wellman in 2012.
The younger Bartrum sifted through 14 NCAA Division I scholarship offers before opting to play at Harvard University.
Mike Bartrum coached his son at Meigs High School in Pomeroy, Ohio, when Ty was a freshman. Ty then played two seasons at Cherokee High in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, when Mike was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bartrums moved back to Huntington for Ty’s senior season and enrolled him at Spring Valley, a traditional football power.
Mike Bartrum said one of the key reasons they chose the Wayne County school is because his former Marshall teammate, the late Phil Ratliff, started his coaching career there.
“Phil challenged me to coach at another level,” Mike Bartrum said. “Phil’s first coaching job was at Spring Valley, then he coached in college (at Marshall and Charlotte). We had our first football camp there. It’s a special place and I knew coach (Brad) Dingess would do a great job with Ty.”
Mike Bartrum said Ty became a better player from growing up with two older brothers, Cody and Zach. Younger sister Taylor plays volleyball and basketball at Boyd County High in Cannonsburg, Kentucky. Zach is a wide receiver at Ohio Dominican University. Cody was a linebacker at Charlotte.
“As all little brothers are, Ty was picked on a little bit,” Mike Bartrum said, with a chuckle. “They expected him to do everything they did. From when he was little to now, he’s always been challenged, pushed to be the best he can be on and off the field.”
Setting aside his role as dad, Mike Bartrum, an analyst on the Marshall football staff, analyzed Ty from a coaching standpoint.
“He can play downhill on the defensive side in a way that you can’t coach,” Mike Bartrum said. “Some guys have that geometry in their heads to take angles to make plays. He has good hands from his brothers throwing a million footballs and baseballs to him. He has things you can’t coach.”
Mike Bartrum said his youngest son is adept at keeping life in perspective, placing God first, family next and academics ahead of football.
“He looks out for others interest,” Mike Bartrum said. “He knows character is important, the importance of being a good teammate. He’s about team, not self.”
Tim Stephens is a sports writer for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch and provided this story on behalf of the WVSWA.