2010 First Coast Lineman has Carolina Offer

In 2007 the South Carolina Gamecocks dipped into the First Coast HS talent pool and signed cornerback Jamire Williams. In 2008 they signed linebacker Shaq Wilson, who played valuable minutes for Coach Ellis Johnson's defense as a freshman. Now the Gamecocks are hot on the trail for a class of 2010 versatile lineman who could potentially be one of the most highly recruited prospects in Florida.

With just a week until Signing Day 2009, First Coast HS (Jacksonville, FL) class of 2010 jumbo-athlete Tavares Barnes has already picked up offers from South Carolina and South Florida. He is also receiving major interest from Florida and Florida State among others.

USC head coach Steve Spurrier and wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. visited Barnes' high school this week to inform the First Coast coaching staff that Barnes has an offer. While the 6'5", 265-pound prospect could not speak with the two coaches according NCAA rules, he did see the them while they were at the school.

"I'm real excited," Barnes said of the offer. "My Friend goes there; he graduated from First Coast last year, he goes to South Carolina, Shaq Wilson. Me and him were real cool and he says he likes it and everything. I would like to go visit there. I mean, I could be a Gamecock; I don't know."

Barnes will get that chance to visit Columbia when he makes the trip for USC's junior day February 21. He also plans to be at FSU's junior day this weekend and at USF's first junior day.

Spurrier, Jr. is Barnes' recruiter of record. Barnes says he has enjoyed the conversations he and Spurrier, Jr. have had.

"He's a pretty cool dude, but I know how it is. He's nice and then once you get up there it's all work. I know. I know," Barnes said laughing. "He's real cool, though."

Barnes plays defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end (in blocking situations) at First Coast. He sees himself as a defensive end at the next level. Barnes did not know his exact stats, but estimated he had over 50 tackles, 5 sacks and 10 TFL.

Barnes says the four programs that are showing the most interest, USF, South Carolina, FSU and Florida, also make up his top four.

He broke down his thoughts on those programs:

USF: "South Florida is close to home. And then if I do go there, they play in an NFL stadium so I think I can get looked at by the NFL scouts in Tampa Bay. I think that's a plus. I don't really think they're going to have a d-line when I get ready to graduate (high school), so I think I can go down there and show out as a freshman."

South Carolina: "I know when Shaq left he went there early. He was telling me when he got there that it is nice and the coaches are nice. He liked the environment. And he was on the field as a freshman; I liked that. That's real cool. He got stronger, more physical. I like it."

Florida: "I love the Gators. I grew up a Gator fan. I talked to Urban Meyer; he's real cool too. He said he didn't want to hear anything about me going to Florida State. So, we had a laugh about that. He seemed like a real cool dude. He wasn't uptight or anything like that."

FSU: "I don't know, I've just got to go up there and see what's up. Jermaine (Thomas) is doing good. Avis (Commack) is up there. Avis isn't playing, though. And then Nigel Carr (is there). They said they like it, though, but I don't know, there's all that trouble up there at Florida State."

Barnes says all of the four programs are even. He would like to take his official visits and isn't planning on making a decision any time soon.

"I think I'm going to wait. I really do think I'm going to wait," Barnes said. "I don't know (when I'll commit), but I know I'm going to go on some visits. I probably will wait to next Friday. I don't want to make a mistake and just commit early."

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