July 7, 2010
By: Lindsay Petersen, MU Media Relations Student Assistant
At 6-4 and 300 pounds, Tim Barnes knew that he was meant for bigger things and football was his passion. As an all-around athlete in basketball, baseball and football, Barnes had all the skill to move into collegiate athletics at its highest level.
After his sophomore year of high school, Barnes had the Mizzou coaching staff convinced that he could help the Tigers and he was offered a scholarship right away, which Barnes accepted. Rivals.com already had Barnes ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the state of Missouri and the No. 23 best prospect in the nation.
"I felt excited and anxious. Mizzou was somewhere I wanted to go since I was a little kid," said Barnes. "My family always listened to the games on the radio, and we went to a few games when we had the time."
In 2006, Barnes was graduating from his small town of Longwood, Mo., heading to one of the biggest universities in the nation.
"The transition was rather easy because of the amount of time you spend with the team," said Barnes, who grew up in a town with the population of around 20, depending on which homes you count on the only street in town.
The center was used to driving 12 ½ miles to get to high school and now everything was within walking distance. The team really helped Barnes adjust to Columbia and its size. Mizzou was the school that Barnes had dreamed about going to since visiting Faurot Field as a child. He had many other offers from rival schools such as Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma in the Big 12, but Mizzou was where he wanted to be.
"I grew up listening to the Mizzou games with my family and was always a big fan," Barnes said. "My heart was set on going to Mizzou no matter what the other schools said to me."
When Barnes came to Missouri, he saw a lot of potential for the team in the fall of 2006 as a redshirt freshman. As he was recovering from a shoulder surgery in 2006, the Tigers' center was happy to watch his mentor - former Tiger All-American Adam Spieker - teach him the ropes as he followed a great line of centers at Mizzou.
Head Coach Gary Pinkel
has coached only three centers-- A.J. Ricker
, Adam Spieker
, and now Barnes-- during his time with Mizzou. The centers before Barnes received high honors and were two of the best to ever play at MU.
"It was extremely helpful to be an understudy of Adam", said Barnes, "because he was one of the greatest centers at the time and a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top center. I could ask him anything and he was always ready to help me. I learned how to read tendencies on defenses which was a big help."
After earning second string duties in seven games during the 2007 season, in which the Tigers went 12-2, Barnes gained a good amount of experience and was elevated to the starting role for all 14 games in 2008. In his first game as a starter, against rival Illinois, Barnes felt "extremely nervous." Playing in front of thousands in a nationally televised game, gave the Mizzou center all the adrenaline he needed to perform at his best.
With quarterback Chase Daniel - a former Tiger All- American and now Super Bowl champion - behind him, Barnes was ready to prove his place on the field and began to emerge as a leader. After his first season as a starter, Barnes said he felt "sore" with laughter.
"I felt it was a good year, but I knew there was a lot I had to do to get better and keep up with the competition."
During the 2009 season, Barnes began working with the freshman quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Barnes was now being watched as a potential winner for the Rimington Trophy. He was pleased to learn that his efforts were being noticed, but with increased attention, there were also increased expectations.
"I felt like I had more pressure on myself," Barnes said of his 2009 season. "But it also felt rewarding to know that people were noticing me."
He helped lead the team to an 8-5 record and a fifth-straight bowl appearance, but Barnes was not satisfied with this and knew that his team could improve heading into the 2010 season.
"Even though it was a good season, there were still games we felt slipped out of our hands." Barnes said, recalling the Nebraska and Baylor losses at home in 2009. "It was such a disappointment to see those games slip away when I knew we could do better."
Barnes is very close with many of his teammates and when he gets a break from football, he invites them back to the farm for his favorite activities such as hunting, fishing, and fish-frys - a staple of his hometown. He recently took fellow offensive lineman and Florida native Elvis Fisher with him to hunt in the fall. "Taking Elvis hunting was quite an experience," Barnes said "It was fun to be around him hunting for the first time. Elvis was unsuccessful at a couple sightings we saw - he missed his chance, literally," Barnes laughed.
Although Fisher was not the best at hunting, to say the least, still Barnes enjoys the time he gets to spend with friends like Fisher, doing his favorite activities and teaching others about it. He has learned to view his teammates and linemates as family after spending so much time them. In fact, he refers to them as his brothers. "The team is your new family when you come in," said the Mizzou senior. "You spend so much time with them and hang out, complain, have fun, talk, - you do everything with them."
Barnes has a good outlook toward the 2010 season, along with a lot to look forward to. He is emerging as a leader on the team, and is one of only four fifth- year scholarship seniors. He also has earned another spot on the Rimington Trophy watch list and a spot on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which recognizes the top college offensive and defensive linemen.
Barnes has also earned the ranking as the No. 4 center in the nation by ESPN's Mel Kiper, and the No. 21 overall player in the Big 12 by ESPN. The fifth-year senior is also ranked as the third-best offensive lineman in the Big 12 according to Rivals.com, showing that he has a lot going for him entering the 2010 season.
With hopes of becoming a team captain and the third center in a row to receive All Big 12 first team honors, Barnes will be the cornerstone of one of the best offensive lines in the nation in 2010.
"It's a lot of expectation," Barnes said. "It's exciting, but there is a lot of pressure to perform. I just want to do my best and not worry about people's expectations; I just want to play the game like I know I can."
The future still holds many options for Barnes as he finishes his final season for Mizzou. After college Barnes hopes to "see how long football goes, and eventually start a career."
With all the hype that is beginning to form as the season inches closer, Barnes just wants to play the game as long as he can and at the highest level he can. As Barnes enters his senior year, he would also like the incoming Mizzou football players to know they should "listen to the coaches because they know what they're talking about. And have fun."
Barnes knows that football has taught him a lot - on and off the field - and that he would not be where he is without the leaders that he has had in the past. As a fifth-year senior, it is now his time to be a leader - and maybe he can mentor another young center who is ready to become the next in a long line of great centers at Mizzou.