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Auburn RB: Homeless mother compelled early draft entry

INDIANAPOLIS -- Auburn running back Peyton Barber's decision to enter the NFL draft as an underclassman was one of the more surprising early entries. Although he rushed for more than 1,000 yards on the season for the Tigers, he wasn't considered among the top draft prospects at his position.

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Wednesday, he revealed a troubling motive.

"My mother is homeless right now," said Barber. "Right now she's staying with her sister. It's her and her three kids staying in an apartment back home."

Barber indicated his mother has been a source of encouragement for him as he's spent recent weeks preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine in an effort to stand out among elite prospects at his position such as Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama's Derrick Henry. He also said she didn't push him to make his decision.

"She really just asks me if I'm OK and how I'm doing. She never pressured me to do anything," Barber said. "I just decided to do what's best for me and my family."

Barber took over for Cameron Artis-Payne as Auburn's top rusher in 2015. He recorded 100-yard games against Louisville, Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, San Jose State and Arkansas over the first half of the season, but his carries dipped significantly over the second half of the year (no more than 13 over Auburn's last six games).

On Friday, he'll work out for NFL scouts in hopes of improving his draft stock and, in turn, improving his family's quality of life.

"This isn't her first (struggle). It's nothing new," Barber added. "It's just a little bump in the road for us. We'll overcome it."

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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