"I have some connections with Coach Ginn, my football coach knows him," Barksdale said. "So it's kind of like a way for me to get my name out there and get more publicity. Coach Ginn's a great guy and I'm looking forward to it."
At 6'5" and 310 pounds, Barksdale, who's previously been clocked at 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is most certainly a player of interest at many, if not all, of the schools that he'll visit on the summer bus tour. He's already become a top priority at most schools in the Midwest and even some in the deep South now.
"I think that I bring a lot to the table in terms of my position as far as my speed, strength, agility and quickness is concerned," Barksdale said. "I'm a dual-purpose defensive tackle, I can be a hole-clogger or a play maker. I'm very aggressive, I have a good eye for the ball and I make a lot of plays. And I think that I have a lot to offer for any team trying to win a national championship."
Barksdale has been playing on the varsity squad at Cass Tech since the ninth grade. He played both offensive guard and offensive tackle in his first two years.
"When I moved to defensive tackle last year it wasn't really that hard for me to know how to get by an offensive lineman because I've played it. So I just thought about I would do if I was trying to get by myself," he said. "I work very hard at my position and I was basically an impact player last year for my team on both offense and defense. "
Last season Barksdale, who has bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times, started at offensive guard and defensive tackle and he's slated to do the same for this season.
"I can play guard or tackle and I'm trying to get into the tight end rotation this year too," he said. "Last year was my first season on defense and I thought I saw a lot of progress in myself as the season went on. My team really needed me to step up and learn the position really fast because we didn't have any big-time defensive tackles. So I had to bypass the learning process and go directly to the impact player process."
Barksdale is close with Vernon Gholston who prepped at Cass Tech as well and is poised to have a breakout season of his own on defense for Ohio State this year.
"Me and him were really good friends. I was a freshman and he was a senior and he was one of our captains and I really looked up to him and I tried to do the same things that he was doing so that I can have the same success that he did," Barksdale said. "Vernon had only been playing football for two years before he went to Ohio State but I think he's going to get his opportunity this year and show everyone why he was accepted to Ohio State."
Gholston is not only a friend but he's obviously a mentor with respect to the recruiting process for Barksdale as well.
"I talk to Vernon a lot regarding recruiting," Barksdale said. "He gives me a lot of advice about the recruiting process and when it's a good time to start narrowing down colleges and things of that nature. He's not really trying to influence me right now as much as he's trying to tell me to lay out my options and go where I feel comfortable."
Up to this point, Barksdale is really just feeling things out regarding the recruiting process.
"Right now I'm just really enjoying the attention but my goal is to become the number one defensive tackle in the country," he said. "But as far as the recruiting process is concerned, I'm not going to narrow down the colleges until around August."
The schools on his list right now, in no specific order, are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas, Miami, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Michigan State.
"Lucky for me, all of the schools that I'm interested in have pretty good engineering programs and I want to go into engineering - either electrical, biomedical or mechanical," Barksdale said. "And they also have to have a good winning traditional. I'm a winner, I love to win, I can't stand losing at all so I have to go to a winning team that has a tradition of winning. I want to go to a team that has competition because I want to go to the NFL and if you want to be successful in the NFL you have to be use to competing. So I want to go to a team that has good competition at my position. And I want to go to a team that has good academic support as well as good athletic support."
So is Ohio State in good standing with Barksdale according to those particular guidelines?
"All of the teams that I've mentioned meet the criteria but Ohio State yeah they meet the criteria that I have," he said. "I like Ohio State. I've been to Ohio State a bunch of times. The two Ohio State games that I saw were against Northwestern and Texas and then I went there for their pro day. The atmosphere at the Texas game was huge. That's the kind of atmosphere that I want to play in; two teams that come from places that are crazy about football. I come from a state that loves basketball so I want to go somewhere where football is appreciated."
Additionally a team that consistently has a good defense is something that Barksdale is looking for as well.
"It's pretty important because if you're primarily a defensive player you're going to want to go somewhere where they're known for their defense," Barksdale said. "Schools with a good defense mean that their defensive coordinator must be doing something right. I want to play on a good defense."
In addition to Ohio State, Barksdale has been on unofficial visits to Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State thus far.
"And I plan to make it to like Tennessee, Texas, Miami and Oklahoma sometime over the summer," he said. "It's real exciting. And having all of these schools interested in me just inspires me to work even harder."
And now that Miami has offered Barksdale, just about all of his top schools have extended him a scholarship offer.
"My offers started with Michigan but I only have seven," he said. "I have Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and now Miami. Every time I get a scholarship offer it really feels like the first time. I take all my offers like I took the Michigan offer. Right now I just use them as motivation to get even better."
It's hard to believe that Barksdale actually considered himself to be a basketball player when he first went to high school.
"My coaches had been trying to tell me for a while that I had the tools to become a big-time football player but I never really saw it that way because I was really interested in basketball," Barksdale said. "I actually started playing football in the ninth grade. It's a funny story because I was signing up for the basketball team and the football coach, he doesn't coach there anymore, he snatched the basketball registration sheet out of my hand and he put the football registration sheet in front of me and said this is the sport for you.
"And three-and-a-half years later, you look back at where you were and see where you are now and it's like wow!"
Cass Tech is a magnet school that attracts the top academic talent in the Detroit Metro area and its alumni is an impressive collection of a virtual Who's Who list of esteemed individuals.
"Academically it's the best school in Detroit, Michigan, as proven by the test scores and the overall GPA," Barksdale said. "But as far as athletics is concerned it's not really a place for athletes that don't achieve well so, because of that, most of our athletic teams aren't that good. Our football team went 2-7 last year but we were really young and our whole team is coming back this year."
The spring and summer itinerary is basically set for the most part for Barksdale beginning with the Nike combine at Ohio State on May 5.
"My next move is to go the Nike combine and try to increase my stock and get to that number one defensive tackle status," Barksdale said. "And after the Nike combine I'm going to keep on working and go to a few summer camps and go on the Ted Ginn bus tour and hopefully get some more scholarship offers during that time. Then I'm going to go to summer camp with my team. And then probably about the first or second game of the season I'm going to start narrowing it down."
Barksdale knows that he's likely to get an ear full of pro-Ohio State propaganda in one form or the other while he's on the Ted Ginn bus tour but he knows that comes with the territory.
"I only listen to the good things that people have to say about their school, I don't listen to the bad things they have to say about other schools," Barksdale said. "It might help Ohio State out, it depends on the kind of information that (those with him on the bus) come with. Ohio State has a really big chance with me. They're one of the northern teams that I'm looking at the most right now. I really like Ohio State."
And Barksdale is already familiar with Coach Ginn so he'll be well within his comfort zone during his time on the bus tour.
"For all of the accomplishments that he's made, he's really a down-to-earth person," said Barksdale of Coach Ginn. "He reminds me a lot of Coach Tressel. They're both well-accomplished coaches that have great careers ahead of them but they're still down-to-earth people. They still can easily mingle with the less famous coaches as well as players. And Coach Ginn really knew me before I was who I am today and to me he just seems like a really genuine overall good person."
Barksdale, who sports a 3.5 GPA and took the ACT for the first time a week ago - he scored a 26 on an ACT practice test, is excited about his future in general no matter what direction it takes him in now.
"I'm really excited because my parents as well as my coaches tell me all the time that I can do whatever I want to do so I'm really looking forward to my future," said Barksdale, who also plays the saxophone in his spare time. "I think that if I do whatever I'm suppose to do in the class room as well as on the football field I can succeed in any aspect of life, whether it's going to the NFL or becoming a successful engineer or business owner. I'm a really determined person and I'll do whatever it takes to succeed."
And from all of the early indications, Barksdale, who is determined to be regarded as the best defensive tackle in the country for the recruiting class of 2007, is well on his way to earning that title already.