Clear leader for Mark Barnes

Five-star safety Mark Barnes from Columbia, SC., appears down to South Carolina and Louisville and a clear leader has emerged in his recruitment. What's the latest with the 6-3, 195-pound standout?

Five-star safety Mark Barnes (6-3, 195, 4.45), from Richland Northeast High School in Columbia (S.C.), said he favors South Carolina slightly over Louisville, Notre Dame and Auburn. All have offered.

Barnes, ranked No. 2 in the country, also said he is looking forward to arranging official visits to Notre Dame, Auburn, LSU or USC after the holidays. During the holiday season he wants to focus on spending time with his family.

"I currently favor South Carolina over Louisville," Barnes said. "What it really comes down to is which school is going to help me develop an academic plan.

"My official visit to South Carolina is set for December 1 and I'm really looking forward to it. Steve Spurrier is an excellent coach and believes in strong-minded players. I know South Carolina will help me with my academics, though I do plan to take an academic tour during my visit."

"I went on an official (visit) to Louisville in September," he said. "The crowd was inspiring as Louisville played Miami. It didn't matter if Louisville scored or fumbled, the crowd was there for support. I'm sure you could hear them for miles and miles. It was very impressive.

"On the other hand, if Louisville wants me to attend their college they are going to have to come at me a little stronger. They need to keep in constant communication with me and help me develop an academic plan. I'm going to need some help in math specifically, and I need to know what academic course of action they have planned for me. I want to add classes and have a strong academic plan," Barnes said.

"I like the coaches from both South Carolina and Louisville. I'm looking for the coaches to be straightforward with me regarding all situations and not to sugarcoat anything. I'm not just looking to perfect my weaknesses, but working on perfecting everything. I think to do that I need the honesty and forwardness of the coaches."

Barnes said he focuses on mental strength just as much as physical strength. "I have gotten mentally strong this year due to my field of study, which is psychology. I have a passion in helping others and psychology helps me do just that," he said. "I've learned to think outside the box, study and analyze formations and plays, and learned to work with my team. I want to succeed not just on the field but off the field as well."

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