Jim Barrie Was Born To Be A Gator

Jim Barrie is absolutely ecstatic to be a Gator! The only people that might be happier are his parents whose dream came true this week when he signed his scholarship papers for the University of Florida on National Signing Day. After all, Gainesville is like a second home to them. Thanks to Jim's decision to be a Gator, Saturdays at The Swamp will be even more meaningful for this close-knit family.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world!" Jim said. "It feels real good!"

The conversation with Barrie was accentuated by cheers in the background every time the word "Florida" or "Gators" was mentioned. To say the least, this is one excited family.

"That's my mom." Jim said, laughing. "That's her hollering in the background."

Barrie is 6-5 and he currently weighs around 288-290 pounds, about 15-17 pounds lighter than he was listed by Scout.com. He can bench press 360 pounds and he squats 450. He was recruited by schools such as Nebraska, Auburn, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida State to name a few. At one point early in the process, Jim had a goal to visit every school that offered him but that goal changed when Florida offered. Once the Gators offered, he knew where he wanted to be and the recruiting process came to an end.

"I'm glad it's over." Jim said. "It was real fun, but it just gets stressful at times. But you know, it was a great situation to be in."

Unlike many other recruits, Jim really got a chance to travel a lot to visit his prospective schools. He spent the majority of his summer on the road with his parents meeting coaches, visiting campuses, and putting himself in the best position to make the right decision.

"It was cool, we saw every little detail and turned over ever possible rock," said Barrie. "We checked out everything...it was a lot of fun. We met a lot of great people."

Jim Barrie and his parents are delighted when he signs!

The recruiting process took an abrupt turn during an unofficial visit to Florida State, where his sister Jamie attends medical school. Jamie collapsed and in a matter of a few hours, life took on entirely new perspectives. Evidently, an infection that Jamie picked up in her foot spread to her heart, causing what's called endocarditis. Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition where an infection builds up on the inner lining of the heart valves. She needed open-heart surgery immediately to save her life.

"You get a reality check when something like that happens, you know?" Jim said. "I kind of realized that I want to be close to my family, for sure. If I went further away, it would be difficult for her to see me and stuff. So that was a little bit of a factor in my decision."

Many people thought after the incident that Jim might chose Florida State to be there for love and support for his older sister. He decided to wait out the process and fortunately, his sister has done much better since her surgery.

"She still has a couple of difficulties here and there, but she's doing absolutely amazing for what she's been through." Jim said. "When I made my decision to commit to Florida, she was pretty much back and doing good. I definitely looked at that (going to Florida State) though heavily, and that was a major positive for Florida State for a while."

Jim says his post-signing day work-out program is in the mail, and he's ready to start training to prepare himself for those brutal summer work-outs.

"Yeah, I expect it sometime early next week, maybe Monday," Barrie said. "I decided not to do the weightlifting team this year because the work-out is sort of different from my Florida program. I'll just get my Florida program going, and they have a running program in there, too. I'm just going to work as hard as I can before I get up there in late June."

Jim was more than excited to see Florida dominate the Tampa area this year in recruiting. Florida received LOI's from A.J. Jones, Riley Cooper, Trent Pupello, Jarred Fayson, and Terron Sanders, all from the Tampa area. Additionally, Pupello's older brother will be joining the team in the fall as a walk-on.

Our boy's already learning the fine art of autographing now that he's a Florida Gator!

"You know, we all got together to take a picture which was real fun," he said. "I got to see those guys there, and played with most of them at the CaliFlorida game ... except Trent (Pupello), so I got to meet him. We all pretty much know each other real well."

During the conversation, Jim spoke of his parents' connection to the University of Florida. They are Florida graduates and veterinarians in the Tampa area. His mom continues to do some work with the UF vet school.

"Here, here, you gotta talk to her right now!" Jim said, passing the phone off, as his mother was laughing "Wait a second! Who is this?!?!"

When it comes to the Florida Gators, Kathleen Barrie bleeds orange and blue. So many of her lasting memories are of Gainesville and the time she spent at the University of Florida.

"It's such a great place isn't it?" she said. "It's so awesome ... I love Gainesville. It's just such a great town, and you know ... I really think that Jimmy's going to have a lot of fun up there but it's going to be tough, you know? I think Coach Meyer doesn't take any you-know-what!"

She wouldn't mind if Jim takes a red-shirt his freshman year so he has time to get acclimated to the college life and the difficulty of combining the classes with the tough football schedule. It is easy to see that she's already mentally preparing her son to be ready for what Urban Meyer and his staff have scheduled for this off-season.

"You know, me being the mother ... I'd love for him to take a red-shirt," she said. "Of course, I do understand that Jimmy's going to be one of the easiest kids to teach. Other than the Down-and-Dirty Camps, Berkeley Prep isn't really that well-known to put out a lot of football players so I know he'll be ready to learn."

She has a standing joke with friends about how it is that her son, Jim Barrie, became an offensive lineman.

"You know a funny story about Jimmy is that we've always had our Gator tickets in The Swamp on rows two and three," she said. "For 25 years, we've always been in rows two and three right behind the offensive linemen! Isn't that funny!?! So poor (John) Hevesy ... we were telling him, you know, you better watch it, because we sit right behind you..."

"And so it's funny, people always joke with us that our son was in my belly when we were always behind the offensive line at the Gator games, and that's why my son is the way he is."

The way Jim Barrie is means that Florida is getting a young man with the size and talent to make his mark on the football field but the character and good grades to make his mark in so many areas as well. On the telephone and in person, he's one of the nicest kids you could meet. Once he steps on the playing field, however, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy.

"I guess I would want everyone to know that, off the field, I'm a real nice guy, but on the field I'm gonna hurt someone," he said.

(Photos by Mark McLeod)

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