Other schools were in play. Southlake Carroll (Texas) safety Robert Barnes has offers from a who’s who in college football.
Regional powers? Yep. National powers? You betcha. And he’s a 2017 recruit, meaning he still has more than 16 months before he has to sign on the dotted line.
But when you know, well, you know. And Barnes, ranked No. 170 in the Scout 300, knows now he wants to be an Oklahoma Sooner. Once the offer was extended in June at a satellite camp in the Dallas area, it felt like the countdown was on.
He wants to continue in his father’s footsteps and build on the Barnes family legacy in Norman and create his own memories.
“I look in my room right now, and I see me about 5 years old sitting with an OU football helmet,” Barnes said. “There’s another one when I’m like 3, and I’m in a basketball jersey. It means a lot to me.”
Barnes’ father is former OU team captain and linebacker Reggie Barnes. Despite those ties, Reggie made it clear from the jump he wasn’t going to try to sway his son to play for the Sooners.
It had to be his own choice, Reggie said. Their summer was full of trips to one big-time school after another. Alabama, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, to name a few, but Robert Barnes was ready to make that call two weeks ago.
“Honestly, I just woke up and knew Oklahoma is the place for me,” Barnes said. “It has always felt like home. I like all the coaches. It meant a lot to me they were there last week, it was a sign of how loyal they are.”
OU coaches got to see an impressive Barnes performance in a thrilling 34-30 come-from-behind victory at Tulsa Union. Barnes was everywhere on that night, making one tackle after another.
One of the biggest questions regarding Barnes is what position will he end up being when it’s all said and done. He said defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks has been joking about making sure Barnes doesn’t eat too much and grow right out of that safety spot.
His father has no preference. The only thing he has always said is he knows his son is going to be a football player.
“He’s a perfect fit for the defense,” Reggie Barnes said. “He’s like a hybrid linebacker/safety. I had that conversation with Cale (Gundy) early in the process – all I can tell you is he’s a football player that can cover as well.”
Despite having so much time to make a decision, Reggie Barnes said he could sense his son was looking to end the recruiting process rather quickly.
It might seem too quick in the eyes of some, but this wasn’t a hasty decision by the Barnes family. They took their time and were ready.
“I did,” said Reggie Barnes about having a feeling Robert would make an early commitment. “At the end of the day, what are you waiting for? You have some of the biggest schools in the country recruiting you. We evaluated distance from home, education and things like that. He wanted to go where winners are.”
Tradition won day as Robert Barnes said the Oklahoma tradition means a lot to him, and he’s come around on the whole being a legacy as well.
So last Monday, the call was made to OU coach Bob Stoops, and the celebration was on, both at Southlake Carroll and at OU.
“We’re very excited as a family,” Reggie Barnes said. “We appreciate the experiences we’ve had and hope he has great ones there, too.”
Barnes said he is hopeful to return to Norman for OU’s home game against West Virginia. The timing of the game will be key as he will have to fulfill his Carroll duties until noon every Saturday so the later the kick, the better.
If it doesn’t work out, it’s not a problem. There will be plenty of other chances.
“It’s great to have this over with so I can just concentrate on getting better and helping my team,” Robert Barnes said. “I know we’ll get back to OU soon. It’s going to be fun.”