Bakersfield (Calif) Liberty HS middle linebacker Krys Barnes understands the business of Pac-12 recruiting. As a junior, Barnes watched Anthony Mariscal go through the recruitment and signing process with Arizona. Mariscal was one of the top Central Valley recruits in 2015 and that's a burden now being shared by Barnes and fellow Bakersfieldian, Lawrence White of Ridgeview. Undeterred by the burdens of producing in a senior season begun with a commitment, Barnes has instead turned his sights into flipping Torrance (Calif) OLB Mique Juarez from USC.
"Our main focus for my position is Mique Juarez," Barnes said. "We're trying to get him over and then flip him from USC. Having him on UCLA would be a great thing for us. As far as my senior season, I'm coming in ready to go. I know I am committed to UCLA. I'm not going anywhere else, so I can put that behind me. I can come in this season ready to perform and get the job done. I'm ready to come in and end my senior season right, end it with a bang. I'm excited for it."
Barnes plans to stay in Juarez's ear throughout the season. With UCLA and USC deadlocked for some high-level recruits, Barnes knows that staying on some of these guys could be the difference in them having second thoughts or not. Barnes plans to do his part for the Bruins by accentuating the aspects of the Bruin program that helped secure his commitment.
"We just gotta stay in his ear," Barnes said. "We just have to talk to him every other day. We have to keep reminding him what we have at UCLA and what we can offer him. I know he has his own thoughts and ideas of what he wants to do, but all we can do is just talk to him and stay in his ear. We have to stress what we -- me, him, Breland, Lokeni -- can come up and build this thing. Jack-Jack is just like him. I don't talk too much to Jack-Jack because he's one of the DB guys, but I am sure we are all in his ear, too. That's what you have to do to win those recruiting battles."
Aside from gaining a solid commitment, the Bruins are also getting a natural leader in Barnes. Running the scout team for the entirety of the morning practice, Liberty head coach Bryan Nixon said that running the scout team was Barnes' idea. The team is thin at linebacker and as a leader, Barnes wanted to be able to coach up the developing players as well as get in the extra reps.
But let's focus on that commitment for a second. Usually when you hear kids talk about being committed to a school, they work in an official visit, check out some practices throughout the year, and otherwise take to social media to do some recruiting. Barnes has done all of that and will continue to do so, but Barnes' next-level gear isn't just relegated to the football field. Barnes doesn't know how to go anything less than all out, recruiting included. As a result, Barnes said he will be at every, single UCLA home game for the upcoming season. This is the type of character around whom you can help build a recruiting class.
"I will going to, probably, to every UCLA home game, just about," Barnes said. "I set my official up for the Arizona State game. I committed early because they gave me the whole aspect of family and that's what I wanted. The coaches, players, no matter what it was, I was brought in, treated as family, and it was great. The whole environment is great. It's a great school, a great campus, it's close to home, and my parents can always come and see me. They can always watch me play. There's no other place I'd rather be and that's being completely honest. UCLA is a great campus and I love that place."
There is a reason that Barnes is one of the most highly coveted Central Valley prospects in this year's recruiting cycle. Patience, maturity, and leadership are generally qualities that will get you noticed on the field. And when you add in the talent that Barnes brings to the table, it becomes all too easy to identify the reasons that UCLA fought and received an early commit from the then junior.