With all the success NC State has enjoyed in south Florida, the Pack has yet to land an offensive lineman from the Miami area during Chuck Amato's tenure with the Wolfpack. The Pack's staff have their eyes on several of that area's top linemen in 2004 but Chris Barney of Northwestern High School may be the most highly regarded of the bunch.
At 6-6, 330 pounds, Barney is a mountain of a prospect that has a top 40-speed of 5.2-seconds and bench press of 365 pounds. He is rated a four-star prospect by TheInsiders.com and the No. 3 OG in the nation by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
Last season Barney finished off a superb junior season by being named to the class 6A all-state first team as well as receiving all-conference honors.
College coaches made a beeline for Miami this spring to see the powerful lineman in person and Barney came away with 16 scholarship offers including pledges from NC State, Miami, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Iowa, Auburn, Ohio State and Rutgers.
A three-year starter on the Northwestern OL, Barney has a plethora of schools from which to choose and has yet to narrow down his list of potential suitors.
"I don't really have a top five but I have some schools I'm interested in," said Barney. "The main ones are Miami, NC State, Oklahoma, USC, Rutgers, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, and Ohio State. All of those schools have offered me a scholarship."
Recruited as an OT, NC State made a huge impression on Barney back in May and have established themselves as one of the schools high on the rising senior's recruiting list.
"I didn't get to make it to their camp but I know a little bit about how they teach," said Barney. "I talked with some of the coaches and I liked them also. I have some family in Charlotte and some close to Raleigh. Coach Amato and Coach Holliday- they are just some good coaches. From what I've heard and from talking to them, they were good guys.
"NC State- they're a program that's up and coming and I think within a year or two they can be up there playing for a national championship."
Most insiders believe any team that hopes to land Barney will most likely have to go through the hometown Hurricanes. Barney conceded that Miami may hold a slight advantage but it's not an overpowering lead in the early going.
"Distance might give Miami a little bit of an upper hand but I can say they don't really have anybody by a whole lot," said Barney.
Barney expounded further on what will be key in his decision making later on in the year.
"Playing at home or playing anywhere, it doesn't matter to me," he said. "The big thing will be what I want to major in (Engineering) and if I can go in and compete for playing time."
With a ton of scholarship offers under his belt, Barney hopes to turn most of his attention to his senior season over the coming months. He's been able to help Northwestern to some very successful seasons over the last two years but is hopeful he can help his squad take the next step in 2004.
"I'd like to help my team win a state championship," said Barney. "My sophomore year we came up one game short and then last year we came up two games short of being in the state championship. So I really want to help my team take that next step and get to the state championship."