Tarow Barney had been waiting for his recruitment to blow up. His academic house was finally in order at Northwest Mississippi Community College, his play and statistics at defensive tackle had improved from year one to year two at the junior college, and his name was already trickling into recruiting circles across the country.
Two weeks ago, it finally did.
Barney, whose first name is pronounced "Ta-row," can't remember which of his 10 offers came first, but the most recent two came from Iowa State and Penn State. Before that, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State. UAB, Miami of Ohio, UTEP and Texas-San Antonio had extended offers.
"It all feels pretty good. It's overwhelming, but really good," Barney said. "I thought I it should have been like this earlier, but it's good now. A lot of schools are starting to call me."
Playing mostly the three technique, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Barney registered 36 tackles -- 9.5 went for loss -- and racked 3.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year for the Rangers, who saw its head coach and all but one assistant dismissed after a 1-8 campaign.
He spoke with Lions' defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who first showed interest and then extended an offer once Barney's grades checked out. Barney said Penn State is selling him on being an immediate contributor, due to both his talent and ability to enroll in January, which he plans to do.
It's a pitch not unique to the Lions -- Barney said Iowa State is telling him that, too -- but one that carries weight considering the PSU's defensive line picture heading into 2014. As things stand, defensive coordinator John Butler's defense and Johnson's unit will have just five tackles, including incoming freshman and early enrollee Antoine White. Butler will be charged with finding someone to start in place of DaQuan Jones, who will graduate at the end of the 2013 season.
"I was surprised they offered me," Barney said. "Coach Johnson called about three weeks ago, and said they were interested in me and wanted to offer. But they had to check out my grades, and that's when he called back [last] Wednesday and they finally offered.
"I'm interested in them. I know they are a good school academic-wise, have a great college football tradition, and [Johnson] told me that I could come in there and be their main person" at defensive tackle.
The Bainbridge, Ga., native made 55 tackles in his senior year of high school and 20 in his first year at Northwest Mississippi. He aims to major in computer sciences, an academic program he hopes to check out when he officially visits Iowa State this weekend when it plays host to TCU.
Barney will visit University Park officially either for the Lions' Nov. 16 clash with Purdue or Nov. 23 clash with Nebraska. He has yet to set any other visits, but did call the Alabama trip "amazing," adding he toured the football facilities and spoke to academic advisors.
At Iowa State, his recruitment is being led by running backs coach Kenith Pope. He added he "knows nothing" about the Cyclones' program, which is why he wanted to visit to learn more and check out the Iowa campus for himself.
"It's very meaningful for me to be able to finally go off and [play Division I football]," Barney said. "I want to be able to go to a school where I will be able to play, and be that guy in certain situations.
"I want to go to a winning program, and somewhere I can feel at home with a good computer science program."