Of the 20 football prospects that showed up Saturday in Fayetteville for the first of two University of Arkansas Junior Days, one stood out in his fashion choice more than any other.
That's because Bentonville offensive lineman Tyler Barnes (6-5, 290, 5.4) was dressed in a slick Razorback jacket making it very clear where he wants to play his college football.
"I really, really have always enjoyed watching the Hogs, being a Hog, I've been following the program since a young age and I have always just been very impressed with how they run their program," Barnes said. "I am getting letters from several places like Arizona, Oklahoma and the Naval Academy, but I want to make it very clear that Arkansas is my number one choice and where I want to play my college football."
Barnes was excited to get to tour the University of Arkansas campus on Saturday after the recruits took in the Razorbacks' basketball game with Tennessee.
He joined an outstanding group of in-state offensive lineman on hand including UA commit Matt Hall (6-10, 330) of Dardanelle, Fort Smith Northside's Austin Eoff (6-5, 305), Springdale Har-Ber's Byrant Newell (6-7, 295) and Jared Grigg (6-4, 215) and England's Leonard Ridgle (6-3, 290).
"I had a great time and it was a wonderful experience," Barnes said. "It was a great opportunity to get to meet the coaching staff and tour all the great facilities they have, I was impressed with everything I got to see."
Barnes, whose team finished 7-4 last season, feels like his run blocking is the strongest part of his game.
"As an offensive lineman there are always areas to improve," Barnes said. "My biggest strength is my downhill run blocking. Not that I can't get down field or pass block, but hard-nosed football is my forte. I love going downhill and opening up holes.
"I think the biggest areas I need to improve in are my speed and flexibility," Barnes said. "That is where my focus is right now."
Barnes has a top bench press of 300, a top squat of 405 and a power clean of 255.
"We're working hard in offseason to get stronger and better for next season," Barnes said.
Bentonville is coached by former Fort Smith Southside head coach Barry Lunney, whose son Barry, Jr. – the former Razorback quarterback – is the offensive coordinator for the Tigers.
"We have a great coaching staff, most of our team coming back and we have all but one starter coming back on the offensive line," Barnes said. "We lost our quarterback and running back, but think we are going to have a great year. We do have a lot of respect for the other teams in the 7A-West, but we feel good about our chances."
He hopes by that time he has an offer from the University of Arkansas.
"That's all I am waiting on," Barnes said. "As soon as I get one, I'm committing. I want to be a Razorback."
Barnes Is Sure
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