Barnes, a 6-foot 180-pound athlete at Bunn High School, first emerged on the recruiting scene last summer when he attended N.C. State's camp. However, he didn't make a bang until his junior highlight film circulated.
"I made my highlight tape and Coach [David] Howle sent it to various colleges around the country and then the interest just came," said Barnes.
Unlike Barnes, Howle wasn't surprised by the sudden flood of interest.
"It was kind of a whirlwind when his tape got out there, but I had watched it before we sent it out and I told my coaches, I said ‘Boys, when people get it, the offers are going to come,'" said Howle.
And the offers did come. Auburn, East Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State, and Virginia Tech all extended Barnes scholarship offers in a matter of days after viewing his film.
The first to step-up to the plate were the Tar Heels.
"I talked to Coach [Butch] Davis on the phone [when he called the school]," said Barnes. "He said he fell in love with my highlight tape and showed it to the [other coaches] and they loved it. And he offered me right there."
Barnes' highlight reel displayed a fast, versatile athlete, who excelled at numerous positions on the football field.
"He's an athlete," said Howle. "He's a DB, he's a receiver, a running back, a kick returner. He's not one-dimensional.
"His stats don't blow you away from last year, but when you watch him on tape, we moved him around so much."
Offensively, Barnes saw significant time at both tailback and wide receiver where he totaled over 800 all-purpose yards and 12 all-purpose touchdowns. He also added two more scores on kick returns. Defensively, Barnes played every position in the secondary collecting five interceptions and 77 tackles including 20 stops in their final playoff game against Clinton (N.C.).
However, Barnes might be an even better person off the field than he is on it.
"He's a kid you don't have to worry about academically or getting in trouble, because he's a great kid," said Howle.
The only problem with Barnes – if you can even call it a problem – is deciding where to play him in college.
"Coach Howle said most of the schools like me as a running back, but wherever they put me I'll play," said Barnes. "I just want to play, I love the game."
Howle says Barnes, who recently clocked a 4.37-second 40-yard dash, is also getting some looks at defensive back and even wide receiver, but Howle admits that he's unsure as to what position best suits Barnes on the collegiate level.
"I'd probably say running back, but I wouldn't rule out playing free safety or corner," said Howle. "People ask me and I don't know what he'd be best at – I really don't know."
A lot could be determined position-wise this summer when Barnes hits the camping circuit. While his schedule is far from being set, Barnes is considering a return to the Wolfpack's camp and possibly participating in Virginia's camp.
This Sunday, Barnes will attend a Junior Day, but – like some other recruits – is torn between invitations from two in-state schools – UNC and N.C. State. Currently, he said he's leaning towards heading to Chapel Hill, since he unofficially visited Raleigh for a basketball game earlier this month.
Before the spring is over, Barnes would like to also take unofficial trips to Clemson and Auburn, his current leader.
"I like Auburn, for right now," said Barnes. "Out of all the schools, Auburn's my favorite right now. Basically, their running backs, they're always good – Cadillac Williams, Kenny Irons – and that's what I want to do."
Regardless, Barnes isn't looking to make his final decision until next year.
"I want to play my freshman year – that's what I want to do – and [I'm looking for] a good program with good tradition," said Barnes.