A new offer from Clemson was announced on Thursday, and it was made by SAF Khalil Barnes (6-1 185) of Bogart, GA. Barnes has been committed to Wake Forest since late June, but Clemson safeties coach Mickey Conn never lost touch with him. This week Conn contacted Barnes and relayed the word to him of an offer from the Tigers, culminating a process that began earlier this year.
“They were very interested, and they got me up there for that elite day in March I think,” Barnes said. “From there we’ve been building a relationship. I went up to camp there and continued to talk and build a relationship with those guys. They let me know I’m a guy that can definitely play for them, and they feel I can play anywhere in the country.”
Despite that early interest, the Tigers held off on an offer to Barnes while they worked some other targets. Barnes moved on with his recruiting as well and committed to Wake Forest June 28th, a few days after taking an official visit there. But Clemson was always there, and Barnes understood and accepted the process Conn was working through.
“They were waiting on some other guys they were leaning towards,” Barnes said. “My first year playing DB was last year as a junior, so they only had one year of film on me on defense. They had three or four years of film from the other guys. They just wanted to make sure before releasing the offer. I talked to Coach Conn in his office at the camp and he was like, you’re good enough to get an offer from us, but we just wanted to make and see how I start off the season. The talks slowed down from there because I started my season and they were in fall camp, but since the season has started Coach Conn has been texting me week to week. This past week we talked more and more, and the day I got the offer he said he’d seen what he needed to see, and he wants me to be a Tiger.”
Barnes said Conn two things in him that can’t be coached.
“My size and my speed,” Barnes said. “For their safety position, they want a guy that’s good enough to play man coverage but can also come up and make a tackle if he needs to. He said I remind him a lot of Andrew Mukuba, but I’m bigger than him physically. He said he like how he feels he can move me around as a versatile guy. He really emphasized the size part. He saw me run in person and said I run fast, so that combination of size and speed. He trusts the coverage ability and his ability to coach me up.”
Barnes and Conn have talked about a visit, but nothing has been set up. Other schools are contacting him as well, including Georgia, where he visited earlier this month, Mississippi State, Missouri and North Carolina. But right now, Barnes said he’s going to chill on the recruiting and focus on the task at hand.
“I can’t let it affect my play,” Barnes said. “I know it’s something that’s big and it’s going to be a big step in the next part of my lift, but my main focus right now is still trying to help my team get a state championship however I can. I just want to complete the season. I want my main focus to be on my high school team.”
Barnes came off an ACL injury prior to his junior season to earn region player of the year honors. He had 30 tackles, broke up 13 passes and grabbed 3 interceptions. At receiver, he caught 50 passes for 771 yards and 9 touchdowns.