Alabama in-state DL target becoming a hot commodity
The University of Alabama signed eight in-state players during the 2020 recruiting cycle. Alabama is looking at several home grown prospects again in 2021 including Anquin Barnes, three-star lineman from Lee High School in Montgomery.
Barnes has collected around 16 scholarship offers including one from Alabama. He received his offer from Alabama at Junior Day earlier this month. Nick Saban, along with plenty of other head coaches, are hoping to land the massive lineman.
Barnes grew up in Montgomery. He started playing football when he was five years old and has never looked back. He played basketball during his junior high years, but quit playing to focus primarily on football. He re-joined the basketball team during his junior year and was part of the championship squad. He also worked with the track team last year.
"He started running track to get faster," said Lee head football coach, Eric Hudson. "He is a 300-pound kid running track. He didn't want to run with the big guys. He wanted to run with the fast guys. He also wanted to work on his flexibility. He just practiced with the team to work on his speed.
"He started playing basketball again this past year. He wanted to stay in shape and improve his footwork and get better balance. He has been playing at a pretty decent weight, and we didn't want him to get any bigger. I think his work ethic is one of his strongest points in being a great athlete."
It's hard for Barnes to go unnoticed as he stands close to 6-foot-6 and tips the scales around 300-pounds. He started for the Generals as a sophomore and earned his first offer from Toledo after the season. His stock continued to rise as more coaches stopped by Lee High School last spring.
"It really stepped up for him in the spring,'' his coach said. "Derrick Ansley, the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, came by the school. We were doing a bunch of drills. He was running the L-Cone drill. Coach Ansley said to me, 'He can really move.' I thought he was just having a really good day. Coach Ansley said they were going to offer him. Troy offered shortly after. The rest is history."
Auburn was the first in-state school to extend an offer prior to the start of the 2019 season. Barnes had a successful season which included 55 tackles on the defensive front. Florida and Georgia offered in January. He is now up to 16 offers after Alabama, UCF and Louisiana extended offers this month.
"The biggest offer he wanted to get was from Alabama," Coach Hudson said. "He has always liked Alabama a lot. Auburn was a big factor for him before the offer from Alabama. He likes what's all been going on at Auburn."
Barnes doesn't indicate a favorite or any leaders at this point in his recruitment. He is keeping an open mind especially with college visits on-hold due to COVID-19 pandemic. He took Junior Day visits to Alabama and Auburn, but had to cancel an unofficial visit to Georgia.
"Everyone is pretty much showing me the same amount of interest," Barnes said. "I don't have any top schools. Everyone is pretty much the same. I am just looking for a place where I can call family, a place I can grow and develop. I'd like to try and make a decision in the summer or sometime in the season.
"Auburn is a nice place. I like the family environment. I also like Georgia. I like the whole atmosphere there."
The offer from Alabama was a big one for Barnes when he traveled to Tuscaloosa earlier this month. Alabama is a school he watched closely. The Crimson Tide featured a few former Lee players in offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell and wide receiver Henry Ruggs.
"I was excited when I got the offer from Alabama,” he said. "Coach Saban is the one who offered me. He told me about what all they do for their players. I think Alabama has a really good program. I really like what the new strength and conditioning coaches are doing down there as well."
Some may see Barnes as a future offensive lineman, but all he has ever known is defense. He prefers tackling rather than blocking even though some schools have mentioned offense. His head coach loves the work ethic he puts in daily. Coach Hudson believes Barnes has all the right tools for success at the next level.
"He has been putting in work and trying to get better," Hudson said. "He moves pretty well for his size. His lateral movement can improve. He is a pretty good athlete. He is strong kid. He is smart. He understands the game. He has a good football IQ. You aren’t going to move him on defense. If he continues to do the things he needs to do to get his footwork together it's going to be hard for a guy to get around him on offense.
"He is determined to be the best he can be. His work ethic is one of his strong points. He is not one of those kids who will shy away from work. He is a good kid. He has a good mom and dad. I've never had any problems with him. He always does his school work. He is always doing something to improve himself every day."
Barnes said Florida State is the only program not extending an offer yet of all the schools showing heavy interest. He is receiving the same amount of attention from most schools and waiting for recruiting visits to resume.
"I've just been working out and fishing," he said. "The whole situation (COVID-19) is weird, but I'm still working and trying to get better. I have been working on my footwork and trying to get even faster."
He wants to major in Sports Management.