Saturday was a day Tyler Barnes won’t forget anytime soon.
The D’Iberville senior grew up a Southern Miss fan and after showing out at yet another Golden Eagles camp, the school extended him an offer, his first from a FBS school.
“As soon as they gave me that call, a lot of things started flashing through my mind,” Barnes said Wednesday. “I can picture myself making plays all over their field.”
Eager to make things official, Barnes jumped at the offer and committed to USM late Tuesday night.
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“I’m not going to lie, it really is a weight off my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I waited a long time for a call from them, growing up as a fan.
“A couple years ago I remember going to their games. I liked how they played and Hattiesburg is right there. It’s a great opportunity for my family to see me play for the next four years. Now I want to prove to Southern Miss that they won’t regret the offer.
The commitment was an emotional one for Barnes’ family.
“My mom cried,” Barnes said. “Grandma couldn’t believe I’d be taking my game to the next level.”
Several years back, Barnes attended a USM home game. He vividly remembers M.M. Roberts Stadium almost buzzing it was so loud.
“The defense was on the goalline. I loved this, knowing they could have given up,” Barnes said. “A safety or corner picked ‘em off when they really needed it bad. I remember the stadium getting as loud as I don’t know what.”
It was around that time Barnes knew where he wanted to go to school — and now he has the all important offer to go with the desire.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Barnes played a little offense for D’Iberville last year but was mostly a defensive back, rotating between safety and cornerback. He said he’ll likely focus his time this year at defensive back — which is where USM also envisions using him.
“Basically wherever they want me to play I’ll do it,” said Barnes who claims a 4.47-second 40-yard-dash time. “I feel I can play anywhere on the field as long as they teach me.”
As a junior, Barnes finished with 72 tackles, three passes defended and two fumble recoveries.
Barnes also holds an offer from Jackson State and said Troy and Southeastern Louisiana have showed interest. He said he plans to take all of his official visits, but added “I’m pretty sure I’ve got my mind made up.”
Should Barnes follow through with his commitment he'll be the second Warrior in as many seasons to sign with the Golden Eagles. Standout defensive lineman Jacques Turner signed with USM in February and is on campus now.