Barnes focused for whatever the future holds

The 2004 football season was supposed to be the best yet for Washington Tackle Khalif Barnes. He had athleticism and three years starting experience under his belt and he was projected as a first team all Pac 10 selection. But a broken wrist before the Huskies' sixth game ended a nightmarish campaign that saw the Dawgs finish 1-10 and Barnes had a lot of distance to make up.

"(The Senior Bowl) was important, because some of the other tackles were ahead of me" Barnes told, referring to his impressive showing in Mobile, Alabama. "I had to play catch-up after the season ended from the Senior Bowl and the Combine. I didn't finish the season the way I wanted to."

Barnes did more than just catch up. He surpassed almost all of the tackles in front of him. Heading into the offseason, questions about Barnes' durability and athleticism arose and he set out to prove the scouts and coaches wrong, and he did just that.

In Mobile, Barnes competed against the best the nation had to offer, taking on Georgia DE David Pollack, Notre Dame DE Justin Tuck, Oklahoma DE Dan Cody and Iowa DE Matt Roth. All are projected to be drafted on day one at some point and Barnes fought them all to stalemates, considered a win for the offensive lineman.

The Combine in Indianapolis was next on Barnes' list of things to do and he raised even more eyebrows with his workout. "I had the fastest time(4.93) for tackles in the (40 yard dash) and my bench was better than normal," he said.

Following his showing there, Barnes' last workout was at UW's Pro Day, where the senior tackle showed the athleticism and footwork that has brought him to the top of the tackle rankings heading into the final weeks before the draft.

"A lot of the information I was getting, was that I should only do position drills" Barnes said, referring to his non-participation in the bench and running drills. "I just wanted to be fresh for them. From what I was hearing, they were looking for more information in position drills anyway."

Barnes said he has meeting planned with Philadelphia on April 4th, and several sources have confirmed that he will be meeting with Seattle Seahawks coaches and scouts in the next few days.

So what does the big man from southern California think about all this attention heading into what will likely be one of the biggest days of his life?

"It's crazy," Barnes said with a look of amazement. "It seems like just yesterday I was a defensive end on the scout team here. I always had dreams and aspirations of going to the NFL, but I never thought that next month is the draft and that I would have the chance to go somewhere and play.

"You know, everyone wants to do that, but until it's right there in front of you…it just hasn't set in yet."

What has set in that Barnes is one of the rising stars in this year's draft and his name will be called relatively early in the proceedings on April 23rd.

Barnes is currently taking his last class in anticipation of getting his degree in Criminal Justice this spring and he will graduate on June 10th. Then he will begin his career with whatever team has the foresight to draft him.

So what does he plan to do on draft day?

"I'm going to be in San Diego, California with my mom, dad, brother and sister," Barnes answered.

"I've put the maximum effort into everything I've done," Barnes added when asked where he preferred to go in the draft. "So whatever I get out of it is what I deserve. If I'm called in the first round that will be a blessing, but if I go in the second round I will still be happy because it's the first day.

"To me, it doesn't matter where you go. It only matters how long you stay there."

And with that, Barnes headed off to the weight room to work out and to plan his future.

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