Why Georgia Tech in the end?
"I just think he was reassured when Coach Johnson got the job and came down and made him feel welcome," said Collins. "He just liked the environment, the quality of football that they play up there and academically they had a lot of things that interested him that was offered there at the school. Of course, the Institute is a good academic place. They just did a great job of recruiting him. They came out and really put a hard press on him and made him feel wanted from way back when this recruiting process started and they pretty much won him because of their efforts in recruiting him."
Besides Coach Paul Johnson, what other coaches from Tech spent time recruiting T.J.?
"Coach Johnson and the whole defensive staff came down the other day and met with him," said Collins. "That made him feel good to show that level of interest."
In high school T.J. was more of a full-time defensive lineman and a situational offensive lineman. He is excited about being on the defensive side of the ball for GT.
"He seems pretty excited about defense because that's where they wanted him to play and more than anything, he was excited about them and about their program and knew that they would do what's best for him and they said, 'we want you to be a defensive lineman,'" said Collins.
Coach Collins broke down what Tech is getting in T.J. as a person and a player.
"It's always important that I'm up front with these recruiters, so they know that any kid that comes from Enterprise is going to be of high character," said Collins. "He's going to be #1 very coachable because he has the future of my program at stake as well because all of these colleges I send kids to, I like for them to come back and say, 'Hey, we want another one just like this one.' Georgia Tech is getting that – a high quality person that's very coachable."
And as a player...
"What they're getting as a player is a very young player – he's 17, he'll not be 18 until June – so he is still continuing to mature not only as a person but as a football player," said Collins. "But he has got all of the things you look for to be able to build off of and his best days of football are certainly ahead of him. He's 6'6", 320 pounds so he's got all of the tools. He moves very well and does all of the things right that you look for as being a high caliber division-one prospect. He plays well on the field and can do a lot of things. But I would look at it from the standpoint of – we're getting a young kid that we know still has a lot of good football left to develop into."
As for what weight a big kid like him can expect to play at, Coach Collins said that would ultimately be up to the Tech coaches.
"He's just a big kid," said Collins. "He times out well in the 40. He's got really good flexibility. Whether they want to get him up or down, I don't know. I got him down from up in the 340 range and that was too big for us. I think he fits in line with what everybody's looking for on that defensive line – just that tremendous size and being able to have flexibility and move his feet – and he's got all of those."
As for that 40 time – he clocked a 5.07 at an Auburn camp last summer. "That is tremendous for a big man," said Collins. He was also carrying more weight at that time too according to his coach.
When asked, Coach Collins offered some possibilities on why the big in-state schools – Alabama and Auburn – weren't on the list at the very end.
"It came down to them addressing their needs and being able to get commits on that board at that time," said Collins. "T.J. has only been in our program for a little over a year. His family is from Enterprise, but he moved in from Florida and he really just got this attention from being an unknown from Florida in a short amount of time. We're not worried about the past, we just know what he's done and I think Georgia Tech has got a good one."
Barnes reportedly has a GPA in the 2.8 range. They are waiting on ACT scores to come back soon, but anticipate those results to match that level or better and that he'll be fully qualified.