The Terps picked up their third commitment of the weekend Jan. 24 when Noah Barnes (Auburn, Ala.) reneged on his Memphis pledge and opted for Maryland. Barnes, joined by his mother and father on an official visit to College Park, Md., Jan. 22-24, let head coach D.J. Durkin know his intentions during a one-on-one meeting right before departing campus.
“Obviously Maryland was the offer I always wanted. I had a feeling I was going to commit going in, but I just wanted to be sure,” said Barnes, who originally committed to Memphis back in September but began to waver after much of the Tigers’ staff, including headman Justin Fuente, left for Virginia Tech. “So when I got up to Maryland, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. Memphis set the bar really high and I had a great visit there too [Jan. 15], but Maryland just felt like home. I’m honored to be a Terp.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Barnes said the highlight of the trip was his meetings with the coaching staff. He’d already been on campus before from when he and his father trekked north for the June 27, 2015, Big Show camp, so Barnes knew the campus and area fairly well. But Barnes had yet to meet the coaches in person, aside from an in-home visit with tight ends coach Pete Lembo Jan. 21 and an encounter with offensive coordinator Walt Bell when the coach was at Arkansas State.
“I talked to like every staff member, and I really like the new staff at Maryland,” said Barnes, who was actually offered by Bell at Arkansas State. “I was mostly with Coach Durkin, Coach Lembo and Coach Bell, but it was really everyone. Coach Bell has known me for awhile from Arkansas State, and we already had a great relationship. I really like him and just his passion. Coach Lembo, he’s very knowledgeable, very intelligent, and he knows his stuff. I really enjoyed talking to him in the position meetings.
“And Coach Durkin was just really cool to talk to. We talked about a lot of normal stuff, but then we were talking about his program and what he wants to do with it. I really liked what he was saying, and just his energy in general. I told him [Jan. 24] I’d love to be a Terp, and he was really pumped up about it.”
Barnes said his parents were impressed with the coaches too. The Auburn product said both were fully on board with Maryland.
“My parents loved Maryland. They’re both from up this way, and they’re comfortable with me there,” said Barnes, who was in the car with his mom and dad on a 12-hour drive back to Alabama since the family's flights were cancelled. “They really liked Coach Durkin and what he’s about.”
Besides the coaches, Barnes said his player host, Avery Edwards, showed him a good time. The tight end also met several UMD linemen and various other recruits, including Elijah and Elisha Daniels (Cardinal Gibbons/Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who ended up committing to Maryland as well.
“I had a blast with the players. It was a lot of fun,” Edwards said. “Avery was really fun to be around and really laid back. I got along really well with him and the other guys too. They told me how it was at Maryland and about the new staff, and everyone seems to believe [the Terps] are moving up. It sounded good to me.”
Barnes said the snowstorm that hit Maryland and D.C. precluded the recruits from traveling off campus. But it didn’t dampen the official at all.
“It was actually a lot of fun just being in the snow and just chilling on campus. It was pretty wild,” laughed Barnes. “It was crazy, just chilling at the hotel and then on campus at the facilities.”
Barnes mentioned that Maryland’s academics caught his eye as well. He said he’s considering going into the medical field and liked what UMD had to offer in terms of various science programs.
“As a university, Maryland was right for me in a lot of ways,” Barnes said. “It’s a very, very good school. I’m big on academics, so that was very important.”
The tight end mentioned Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation, it’s Under Armour connection and its location as three more reasons he flipped to the Terps. Barnes was born in Wisconsin and lived in Indiana for a period before moving to Alabama, “so it’s cool that I’ll be going back north now to Big Ten country,” he said.
Although he’s never had a direct connection to Maryland, Barnes always counted the Terps as one of his favorite teams growing up. In fact, he admitted to having Maryland Pride socks and a Terps’ flag hanging up in his garage. His UMD sympathy was the main reason he decided to drive up to College Park back in June, seeking an offer (it never materialized).
“I honestly don’t even know why I liked Maryland so much. I think it was the uniforms,” laughed Barnes, who has been playing football since the third grade. “But it’s a school I’ve always liked and always wanted an offer from. So when I finally got the offer [Jan. 1, 2016], I was very, very excited.”
Even so, Barnes admitted it was difficult to flip. He said it wasn’t easy calling the Memphis coaches and letting them know his decision.
“But I’m in a good place now at Maryland,” Barnes said. “It’s my home now.”
As far as what he brings to the table, Barnes projects as a blocking tight end in Walt Bell’s offense. But he did play H-back and had various other offensive roles at Auburn.
“One thing Coach Lembo and Coach Bell like about me is I’m versatile and I’m not limited to one spot,” said Barnes, who is coming off a 23-catch, 450-yard, three-touchdown season. “Coach Bell wants to do some two tight-end personnel, so that’s sort of how I’d fit in. But honestly I don’t have a preference or a comfort spot. I’ll play whatever role they need.”