WILLIAMSTON, Mich. (WLNS) – After not being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, Sy Barnett felt a bit of disappointment.

Shortly after though, he received a call from his agent saying the New Orleans Saints were going to offer him an undrafted free agent contract.

“Born and raised in Charlotte, Michigan. We moved to Williamston my junior year, which is also a small town. So, it’s awesome,” Barnett told 6 Sports on Monday. “I dreamed about it all the time, but I never dreamed I would have this opportunity.”

“It’s incredible. The journey that Sy is going on right now,” Williamston football coach Steve Kersten said. “Sy is a neighbor of ours, so we know his parents well, and it’s been amazing to see this all come to fruition.”

Barnett started his high school career at Charlotte and graduated from Williamston in 2017, which is where he signed to play football at Ferris State. After taking a redshirt his first season with the Bulldogs, Barnett saw playing time in 2018 and later played on Ferris State’s 2021 Division II National Championship team.

While wanting to improve his skills at the wide receiver position, Barnett made a “business decision” and transferred to Davenport University as a grad transfer.

“I played outside receiver at Ferris and this past year I played slot receiver (at Davenport),” Barnett said. “Confining my techniques to route running and catching the ball away from my body. Last year to this year, I made such a huge jump.”

“I think what really put him over the edge was that Pro Day,” Kersten said. “He ran a 4.38 (seconds) 40 (yard dash), 40” vertical jump. Just those metrics were like, woah. I think the NFL said, “Hey, I think we need to take a look at this kid.”‘

On top of representing Charlotte and Williamston in the NFL, Barnett also takes pride in knowing he’s the first NFL free agent signee in the history of Davenport football.

“I’ve had so many texts over the last couple days just from the younger guys at Davenport saying, “You’re an inspiration. We want to be like you,”‘ Barnett said. “Hopefully it changes and there’s a couple more next year and it keeps on growing.”

In his first and only season with the Panthers, Barnett helped the program to an 8-3 record and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs.