Up Close: Ed Barham, Part I

DENDRON, Va. – Don't ask 2006 North Carolina commitment Ed Barham how much he bench presses or squats, because he won't be able to answer. If you want to know his strength numbers just ask him how many hundred watermelons he loaded on to a truck last Friday, or what's the biggest sow he's ever thrown over his shoulder.

"He can handle a 240-pound hog easy," said Surry County coach Ervin Jones.

In fact, Ed Barham was more than happy to meet with Inside Carolina at his school's air conditioned library on Monday – it allowed him an extended break from picking beans and cucumbers in the 90-plus degree heat.

That's right, Barham's a farm boy. But when he's not working in the fields in some of the most remote rural sections of the Tidewater area, he's busy getting ready for football, basketball and track season, as well as keeping his grades up.

At 6-foot-3 ½, 225 pounds, Barham plays defensive end and tight end. Last year as a junior, he caught 25 passes for about 500 yards with five touchdowns and he recorded 70 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions.

He also averaged 25 points and 17 rebounds for the defending Division 1A state basketball champs.

While it was primarily the work of UNC assistant Kenny Browning – well known in these parts – who got Barham to camp at Carolina, it was his childhood friends E.J. Wilson, Kentwan Balmer, Bobby Rome and Darrius Massenburg that convinced him to go ahead and commit.

"I played AAU basketball with a couple of them last year," Barham said. "I was talking to them and they were telling me good stuff about UNC. Well of course, I've been interested in North Carolina ever since sports became evolved. UNC has always been a dream school for me. Then I went down there and I saw the campus and it was pretty and real nice.

"I just felt more comfortable there than anywhere else that I've been."

While nothing is certain at this point, it appears the Tar Heels are planning on using Barham on the offensive side of the ball. He admits that would be his preference, but said he would be equally satisfied to play defense.

"Coach Browning told me if camp started today, I would go in as a tight end," Barham said.

"I kind of caught wind on that first visit to UNC," said Jones. "The defensive end and the tight end coach kind of had a little debate going among them. He's versatile; and on either side of the ball, he can help them.

"His skills as a high school player at both positions are very good. He uses his body well. At defensive end, in order to get around him, you've got to get around 6-foot-3. He has that technique already that he doesn't even know he has. It's similar to like Bruce Smith had; he could extend his whole frame out. You had to try and run outside of that 6-foot-3 frame."

No one else offered Barham, although he did receive scholarship offers from William & Mary and some Division I-AA schools to play basketball. But since his commitment to UNC became public, he has been getting a lot of interest from other ACC football programs such as Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Maryland.

"I'm getting a lot of handwritten letters from the recruiting coordinators," he said.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow…

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