Checking in with Johnell Barnes

He committed to Duke in mid-June. Three months later he made an unofficial visit to see the Blue Devils in action against Florida International. Now, halfway through his season, Johnell Barnes says he's as excited as ever about being a Blue Devil.

"Our season is going great," said Dunbar (Fla.) High standout Johnell Barnes. "We're getting better and better each week and currently have a 5-1 overall record."

As a senior leader, Barnes has been asked to play a number of roles for his team on both sides of the ball. Despite the constant change, he's managed to make an impact in most of his team's games - especially the victories.

"Right now I'm playing a combination of receiver, cornerback, and quarterback. I'm trying to make plays at every position to help my team. On offense we have a mobile quarterback and our game is to run the football, so I don't have too many catches on the year. When we do use the passing game, however, I've been able to make big plays - especially after the catch."

After picking Duke over offers from Wake Forest and Northwestern, Barnes says recruiting has died down as his commitment has remained firm. He's planning his next trip to Durham during the college basketball season. In the meantime, however, he's watching the progress in Durham very closely.

"I think it's great that the team is 5-1 and having a really great year. It's a wonderful turnaround for Duke and it makes me feel very welcomed and ready to get there. I've enjoyed watching them on television."

"I've been keeping in touch with the coaches about once a week. They usually call me to talk about my game and how things have been going for me during that week at home and away from football."

When he arrives in Durham next summer, Barnes says he's going to be ready to continue the trend of big time Florida receivers who do well as Blue Devils.

"I've spent this year working on getting bigger, stronger, and faster. I've been a team captain and worked on my leadership skills. I'm also working on my routes and I feel that I've become a phenomenal route runner and coverage guys when playing cornerback."

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