Barnidge, a 6-6, 223-pound true freshman tight end from Middleburg, Florida, made two important receptions in No. 14 Louisville's 56-49 victory at Memphis, including a 17-yard touchdown reception from Stefan LeFors in the first quarter to give the Cardinals a 14-10 advantage over the Tigers.
On the touchdown reception, the first of his young career, Barnidge broke several tackles around the five-yard line, then carried two Memphis defenders and semmingly willed his way into the endzone for the touchdown.
Barnidge's second big reception of the game came on Louisville's game-winning final drive when he hauled in another LeFors pass, this time for an eight-yard gain to keep U of L moving down field for the decisive touchdown. Thrown behind him, Barndige made a nice adjustment to reach back and haul in the pass with his right hand.
Barnidge, who hails from the same high school as former U of L tight end and current Minnesota Viking Richard Owens, has played in each of U of L's seven games this season. In the process, he's earned the praise of U of L Head Coach Bobby Petrino for his performance.
"Gary Barnidge is a really good football player," Petrino said. "He's played all year despite being a little bit undersized.
"He came in at 212-pounds and weighted in the other day at 223-pounds," Petrino continued. "So he's gotten bigger and stronger. And he's an extremely smart football player."
Playing behind first team tight end Adam McCauley the entire season, Barnidge has impressed his coach with his maturity and ability to quickly absorb Petrino's complicated offensive system.
"The thing I like about Gary is that any time you tell him something, he'll get it done the next time," Petrino explained. "He told me when he first got here that I would have to tell him things twice."
With McCauley departing following the season, Barnidge appears the logical choice to replace the 6-4, 245-pound senior next season when U of L begins Big East competition.
"He's going to be a great player for us at tight end," Petrino said. "I think you'll see him have an outstanding career here."