When Auburn (Ala.) tight end Noah Barnes visited College Park, Md., June 27, 2015, for the Big Show camp, it raised a few eyebrows. Yes, the senior recruit’s measurables were intriguing at 6-feet-5, 230-pounds, but he hadn’t had any contact with the Maryland staff, nor did he have any direct connections to the school.
Nevertheless, Barnes showed up ready to compete, declaring beforehand that UMD was a “dream school” of sorts.
“I honestly can’t even tell you why I liked them,” laughed Barnes, who at one time held offers from Memphis, the school he eventually committed to Sept. 9, 2015, Arkansas State, Troy and Toledo. “It’s just sort of a school I took notice of and just liked. I mean, at one point I had the Under Armour Maryland socks and always used to wear those. And I had a Maryland flag hanging up in my garage (laughs). I think I just always loved the gear and the uniforms, so I was always drawn to them.”
Following the camp, however, Barnes didn’t hear a peep out of the Maryland staff. Nor did then-tight ends coach John Dunn communicate with him in the months ahead.
But before the New Year, new Terps’ offensive coordinator Walt Bell reached out to Barnes’ coaches. When Bell was at Arkansas State, he served as point man in Barnes’ recruitment, and now the assistant wanted the big tight end to join him in College Park, Md.
So Bell, along with head coach D.J. Durkin and tight ends coach Pete Lembo, officially extended the offer Jan. 1, 2016.
“I was very, very excited about the offer,” said Barnes, who projects as a blocking tight end. “It’s something I’ve always kind of wanted, and getting the Maryland offer was huge.
“What happened was Coach Bell asked me awhile ago if I was still interested in Maryland, and then he told me to give him a call [Jan. 1]. And when I did he had Coach Durkin and Coach Lembo on the phone with him. So I talked to all three of them at the same time, and they said they had watched my film and wanted to offer me. It was pretty cool how it went down, to be honest.”
Barnes had high compliments for all three Maryland coaches. Especially Bell, whom the tight end has known the longest.
“Coach Bell has been recruiting me for awhile. When he was at Arkansas State I knew him pretty well,” Barnes said. “I went out to his recruiting weekend, and he actually really liked me then. So I got to meet him in person and start building a relationship from there. I really like him; he’s a really cool guy.
“And just from talking to Coach Lembo, I can tell he’s really intelligent, and I can’t wait to meet him. Same with Coach Durkin. He’s very energetic and sounds like a really good guy. I’m looking forward to meeting them all.”
Which Barnes plans to do in January. He hasn’t set an exact date yet, but he said he’s “definitely” planning to officially visit.
“I was out there before [for the Big Show], and I really liked it; the campus was neat,” said Barnes, who was born in Wisconsin, lived in Indiana and has been in Alabama since the fourth grade. “The area was OK, but I liked the campus. And I’m a Big Ten fan; I grew up watching Big Ten football. The Big Ten is a prestigious tight end conference, so that interests me too. And Maryland’s academics are really big. I’m planning on doing engineering, and I know they have a great program for that.”
But Barnes insisted he’s still committed to Memphis. He will take his only other official to see the Tigers at an undetermined January date as well.
“Honestly I can’t say exactly where I’m at, because both schools have new staffs and I have to visit both and go from there,” Barnes said. “All the guys who were recruiting me at Memphis left for Virginia Tech [with Justin Fuente], so I have to build new relationships there too. I won’t know what I’m doing until after I take these officials.”
Barnes is coming off a season where he recorded 23 receptions for 417 yards. He was primarily used as an H-back in an offense that mainly ran the ball.