Jason Barnes was the go-to guy for the North Carolina wide receivers at the Shrine Bowl of the…
Jason Barnes: The Next Sidney Rice?
GamecockAnthem Radio aired its' fifth show on 90.5 WUSC FM in Columbia this week. As the only radio show in the state of South Carolina that offers "All Gamecock talk, all the time," GamecockAnthem Radio is the perfect show to help USC fans get their Gamecock fix, especially during the summer months when football deprivation begins to set in. Be sure to tune in every Wednesday morning from 8-12 throughout the summer to hear great interviews like the one below and enjoy in depth discussion on South Carolina football, recruiting, baseball and much more. To learn more about GamecockAnthem Radio, click here: LINK
Interview with 2007 wide receiver signee Jason Barnes:
Question: It's no secret that South Carolina has a huge void to fill this year after losing wide receiver Sidney Rice to the NFL. Even after spring practice, questions still linger about who is going to step up and help fill his spot in the offense. That obviously leaves a great opportunity for newcomers like yourself to come in and make an immediate impact. What exactly have the South Carolina coaches told you about the possibility of seeing the field early and making an impact this season?
Answer: They told me from day one that I would have the chance to step on the field and make plays. They're going to give all of us a chance to step in Sidney Rice's spot, and they said me and Chris Culliver have the greatest chance. We're just waiting to get there July 5th and go to work.
Question: I know with your combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability, you've already drawn some comparisons to a young Sidney Rice. Would you agree with that comparison?
Answer: Yeah, I agree with it. He made good plays, and I've seen a lot of stuff that he did. I compared that with some of the stuff that I do, and we look just about alike. I'm just ready to get down there and start making plays just like he did.
Question: I had the opportunity to see you up in Spartanburg during the week of the Shrine Bowl, and you had a fantastic week of practice and a good showing in the game itself too, but why don't you give our listeners that haven't had a chance to see you play a little taste of what they can expect from you on the field this season. What strengths would you say you bring to the football field as a wide receiver?
Answer: I work real hard on my routes. DB's don't really know which direction I'm going to go in, and my speed helps me get a burst out there. All I really need to do is work on my physical ability and get in the weight room to try and get a little bit bigger so I can get the DB's off of me on the press. Once I get that, I should be a complete receiver. I'm just going to keep working hard every day so I can be the player I want to be.
Jason Barnes (#89) finished with a team high 6 catches for 67 yards in the 2006 Shrine Bowl, propelling the North Carolina squad to a 23-16 win.
Question: Is there any player that you tend to model your game after as a wide receiver?
Answer: Plaxico Burress. I like him a lot.
Question: I'm sure you're excited about taking your game to the next level this fall and competing against some of the best talent in the country in the SEC. With that in mind, what kind of personal goals have you set for yourself in your upcoming freshman season?
Answer: I'm just trying to compete for a starting spot. If it's possible for me to start, I just want to see if I can make first team All-SEC.
Question: You mentioned before that you're going to be arriving at USC on July 5th to start the second session of summer school and begin working out with the team. What have you been doing workout-wise over the past few months to basically gear up for those workouts?
Answer: South Carolina has been sending workouts in the mail about running techniques. I'm running a lot of sprints and running distances. I've been doing that to try and keep in shape and lifting a lot just to get ready for July 5th.
Question: Has anyone told you what to expect with USC's strength and conditioning program under Mark Smith? I've heard those workouts can be pretty intense.
Answer: Yeah, I'm just ready to start. They say he's going to be a beast. They say he's going to try to punk you when he has you running and lifting hard. They just always tell me don't let (Mark Smith) punk you (laughs).
Question: I understand that you've got very good speed for a player your size. So just curious, what is the fastest forty yard dash that you've ever recorded?
Answer: The fastest I ever ran was a 4.45, but that was last year. That was the summer before 12th grade, but my legs have gotten a little bit stronger, and I've been training a lot since then, so hopefully when we run forties, I'll get a better time.
Question: Okay, let's take a quick look back at the recruiting process for you. Obviously you were a highly touted prospect up there in North Carolina, and you strongly considered the home state Tar Heels during the recruiting process. But what was it about South Carolina that stood out to you and helped you decide to commit to the Gamecocks?
Answer: Everybody was coming up to me telling me that South Carolina is the best place for me because the offense is dynamic, and they throw the ball a lot. It'll be the perfect offense for me coming from Independence (High School) because it's just the same. That just overpowered North Carolina because North Carolina does a lot of running. That made the decision for me a given.
Question: When did you know for sure that South Carolina was the right place for you?
Answer: When I went to a couple of games and saw Sidney Rice, it just made me see that there was a possibility he would go to the NFL. So I was like, ‘If he goes, maybe I could fill in for him and do the things that he's been doing.'
Could Jason Barnes be the next Sidney Rice in South Carolina's offense?
Question: I know you got the opportunity to meet and hang out with a bunch of your fellow North Carolina prospects up there at the Shrine Bowl, so was it exciting for you to have other top North Carolina players like Travian Robertson, Chris Culliver, Weslye Saunders, Melvin Ingram and those guys join you at South Carolina?
Answer: Yeah, it was fun. It was a great experience for me to be accepted into the Shrine Bowl. We all got real close there, and we played a great game.
Question: How special is it for you to be a part of a class that most people are calling the best recruiting class in the history of the South Carolina football program?
Answer: It feels good. We all put it together, and we have great recruiting coaches like Coach Chatham. We all just can't wait to get together and do our thing on the field.
Question: You obviously come from a major high school program up there at Independence, so are there any prospects we should watch out for this year?
Answer: We've got a receiver, Javon Rembert. He really wants to go to South Carolina, but they haven't got around to offering him yet. When they see him on the field, that shouldn't be a problem. If they get him an offer, he'll be coming in 2008.
Question: Independence is renowned for its advanced passing offense which has produced major Division I wide receiver prospects like Mohamed Massaquoi (Georgia), Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina) and yourself in recent years. How do you think playing in that system has helped to prepare you for the college level?
Answer: A lot of our plays and techniques are based on college experience. It just gets us ready for the next level. It's like a different speed of game. We don't really play to have fun. It's like business already in high school. We go to win. It's just what our mentality is. We have to win. There's nothing else on our mind. Coach (Tom) Knotts just prepares us for college like that. We practice college level, play college level.
Question: I know you had the chance to face off against Weslye Saunders' Riverside team in the state championship game, so what's your evaluation of Saunders as a player? Are you looking forward to playing with him on the college level?
Answer: Yeah, me and him have gotten real close. He's a good athlete. He has good speed, good hands and good athleticism. He should be great. They're looking for him to do big things at South Carolina too.
Question: Alright, I've just got a few more questions for you here, Jason. When you look at South Carolina's 2007 schedule, is there a certain game that stands out to you where you just say, ‘I can't wait to play against those guys.'
Answer: Yeah, when I looked at that LSU game in Baton Rouge, that made me think. I just can't wait to get on the field and see what I can do on the next level, but that's the game that really stood out. Then we've got the Clemson game and the Florida game. It seems like every week we've got a big game coming up, so you can't really single out anybody, but that LSU game, I know it's going to be big.
Question: How about that game in mid-October against your home state school, North Carolina. Are you looking forward to that?
Answer: Yeah, that should be a great one. Me and Hakeem (Nicks) going heads up like we always used to do in practice. I can't wait.
Question: Have you been talking a little trash with your buddy Hakeem Nicks about that game?
Answer: Yeah, he called me last week as a matter of fact. We were on the phone talking about that game. I can't wait to face off against them.
Question: I know a lot of times incoming freshmen are excited about picking out what jersey number they're going to wear in college. Do you have an idea of what jersey number you're going to be wearing this season?
Answer: Coach Spurrier said I'd have a chance to battle for #1. That's the number I want. He said if I get it, there would have to be two #1‘s. Captain Munnerlyn would wear it on defense, and I'd wear it on offense just as long as we're not on the field at the same time. That's the number I want.
Question: Speaking of jerseys, what are your thoughts on South Carolina's new Under Armour uniforms that they'll be wearing this season?
Answer: I like them a lot. They look real good. The old ones were kind of plain compared to them, so I'm glad we've got a little upgrade going on. That just worked out for the best.
Question: I know you were on hand for a lot of Carolina's games last fall, and you got to see first hand the excitement that's building around the Gamecock football program under Steve Spurrier and the potential to do things that have never been done before in Columbia like win an SEC Championship and possibly even contend for a national championship. How excited are you about coming into a situation like that where you can be a part of something special and help USC reach those goals?
Answer: I never thought that I would have a chance to come into a situation like this. This is just big for me. I love the atmosphere with the stadium and the fans, and I just can't wait to get there and make plays and help our team win the SEC Championship. That's everybody's goal.
Question: I've just got one more question for you, Jason. Obviously the Gamecock Nation is excited about you arriving in Columbia soon and seeing you on the field this fall, so is there any message you'd like to pass on to the South Carolina fans before you go?
Answer: We'll be arriving July 5th. It's going to be a big one. Let's get it.
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