Barnes Says He'll Make The Grade

Richland Northeast (Columbia, SC) 4-star safety Mark Barnes is one of the jewels of South Carolina's 2007 recruiting class, and the highly touted Palmetto State prospect is set to make his college choice official on Wednesday when he signs his letter of intent with the Gamecocks.

The 6'3, 190 pound Barnes, who is rated as the #6 safety in America by, played an important role in South Carolina's 2007 recruiting class, and he is excited about the class becoming official on Wednesday.

"No doubt, this class is going to be great. I've put in a lot of work as far as recruiting-wise and stuff like that," said Barnes. "I've talked to basically most of the guys that are committed, and I've put in a lot of work to be an extra recruiter and get them to see what I see and what Quintin Richardson, Brian Maddox, and Cliff Matthews see and stuff like that. I just wanted to show them what possibilities they have when they go to South Carolina."

Barnes was especially excited to learn about his good friend Weslye Saunders' commitment to the Gamecocks on Monday night.

"When I heard that, that basically felt to me like the biggest accomplishment I have made as far as recruiting other than Stephen Garcia. I think that was basically the second biggest thing that I accomplished, because I talked to him when he was on his official visit, and at that point it was like he didn't know which way to go. His granddaddy really liked North Carolina, and he was really persuading him to go to North Carolina. I was just like, ‘What is he going to do?' at that point in time, but once I heard that he committed, I knew it was really about to go down in South Carolina."

One of the big questions surrounding Barnes has been his academic status and his ability to qualify out of high school, but according to Barnes, he is currently on track to make the grade.

"Right now I'm basically making all ‘A's' and ‘B's.' I'm about to shock a whole bunch of people that think I'm not going to make it. Once it happens, I'm just going to bring a lot of tears to people that have been hating on me, but I've gotten stronger. I‘m going to make it."

As for goals in his freshman season with the Gamecocks, Barnes is already aiming high.

"Anything that's big, I'm trying to get it. I want to get freshman All-American and all that. I'm trying to get it."

Barnes, who has dazzled Columbia area fans throughout his high school career at RNE, shared a glimpse of what South Carolina fans can expect from him on the gridiron in the coming years.

"What I did in high school, I'm going to do in college. I want to let all of my fans know that. Nothing's going to change but me getting better."

When told that his friend and fellow Gamecock commitment Brian Maddox recently was timed running a 4.38 second forty yard dash, Barnes immediately and somewhat jokingly replied that he can too.

"If he runs a 4.38 forty, then I'm running it too. Personally, that's how I feel. Of course we went against each other this year, and he had a good three or four breakout runs, and I saved all four touchdowns for my team. If I was able to chase him down, I know I run something like that also."

Barnes closed by passing on a message to the USC faithful, saying that big things are on the horizon.

"I just want to say Merry Christmas. We're about to make it happen in 2007."

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