David Perkins has become Keith Hill's first signing as Barnsley boss.
The lively 28-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Tykes and will link up with his new club next month.
Perkins was Colchester's player of the year last season and Hill knows the 5ft 6in midfielder well.
The former Rochdale boss gave Perkins his break in League football, signing him from hometown club Morecambe in January 2007.
"I'm excited by this signing and he should be judged on what he does rather than where he's come from," Hill told Barnsley's official website.
"He's a little pocket rocket. He's a very good player who deserves a shot in the Championship.
"I'm sure the fans will appreciate his energy and style of play."
Perkins' form for Rochdale earned him a move to Colchester in the summer of 2008, making 40 appearances in his first season.
He was then sent on loan to Chesterfield and Stockport during the 2009/10 campaign but Perkins showed his character by bouncing back to become the U's star man last term, helping them finish 10th in League One.