Durant’s free safety is one of the area’s top performers.
You don’t often find a free safety that finishes a season with 100 total tackles, but there’s one at Durant High School right now. C.J. Barnes is two tackles away from hitting the century mark for 2018, which should happen in Friday’s season finale at Armwood. The hard-hitting junior averages almost 11 tackles per game and also leads Durant in passes defended. He’s expected to start racking up college offers in the spring.
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You’re having a great year, almost 100 tackles to your name. How do you feel about where you’re at as a football player right now and how you’ve progressed?
I feel like I still have room to get better, but it’s been fun. I’m doing whatever my coaches tell me, just putting my trust in the coaches. It’s really helped me a lot.
What’s some of the best advice they’ve given you?
To stay positive at all times. There were times this year where I could have just given up, like in the third quarter when we were down. But it’s just staying positive. Knowing that this is a rebuilding team, that we’re gonna be better soon, has helped me a lot.
What do you tell yourself when things are going south so you can keep your attitude up? How do you stop yourself from giving up?
I just tell myself we’ll be alright, and I’ve got to tell the other guys that. The guys are young and they’ll put their heads down. I tell myself I’ve got to be a leader for these guys so we all play better.
Any colleges talking to you right now?
I have interest. I went to a USF visit when they played Georgia Tech. Iowa State sends letters. Cincinnati. I’ve talked to NIU. A lot of coaches are saying they’ll come around in the springtime and see what it’s about.
What would you major in?
Communications, journalism, something like that. I like writing.
Do you write for your school’s paper, the Paw Print?
Yes, sir. Sports.
What’s been your proudest moment as a Cougar?
I’ve been a captain a lot this year. Even on Senior Night and in the rivalry games, I was a captain even though I’m a junior. Coach (Mike Gottman) usually has just seniors be captains. The fact that he chose me to be a leader of the team, that felt good.