Sikeston native honorable mention at linebacker
COLUMBIA - Brandon Barnes' career as a Missouri Tiger has come full circle.
After five years in which the 1999 Sikeston High School graduate has played three different positions, he finally found a home as a starting linebacker this season.
It was announced Wednesday that Barnes was named honorable mention All-Big 12, picked by the league coaches.
He was one of 12 Missouri players to earn mention on the all-league team.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Barnes didn't even hear the news until late Wednesday night.
"I'm just now finding out -- it feels pretty good," said Barnes in a telephone conversation. "My main goal when I came here was to just get on the field. But then when that happens, you want the next best thing. I'm thankful for the opportunity."
He made the most of the opportunity after being moved from free safety last spring.
He is second on the team in tackles with 106 and is third on the team with 10 tackles for loss.
But he is arguably the team's top playmaker on defense as he leads the squad with five takeaways, with three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. He also has a sack and one forced fumble.
Six times this year he recorded 11 tackles in a game, including a road game against No. 1 ranked Oklahoma.
He had a season-high 12 tackles against Eastern Illinois.
Not a bad year as a first time linebacker.
"I think that's a pretty big accomplishment," said Barnes. "I wish I had a lot more time to improve on that, but I'll take it."
To be mentioned among the top linebackers in the Big 12, which is largely considered the toughest conference in the nation, is something that still hasn't sunk in for Barnes.
"I haven't really got a chance to sit down and think about it," he said. "It's nice to be recognized highly and be up there with some of the better players in this conference. That means a lot to me and I'm sure to the team."
Missouri only had one player chosen for 1st-Team All-Big 12 in senior center A.J. Ricker.
Offensive tackle Rob Droege, tailback Zack Abron and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley were selected to the 2nd-Team All-Big 12.
Quarterback Brad Smith, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and linebacker James Kinney were named to the 3rd team.
In addition to Barnes, tight end J.D. McCoy, offensive guard Tony Palmer, defensive end Brian Smith and corner back Michael Harden were selected to the honorable mention team.
It's the second time this week Barnes has gotten good news.
On Monday at the team's annual banquet, Barnes was awarded the "Missouri MO Award" for sportsmanship/enthusiasm/team spirit, and he was also given the "Breakthrough Construction Hammer Award" for the most big hits, something that he was known for during his playing days at Sikeston.
In high school, Barnes led the Bulldogs to a 7-3 record and tied for the SEMO Conference championship in 1998.
He was an all-around weapon for the Bulldogs with over 1,000 yards all-purpose, but he was most known for his defensive abilities in which he was named an all-state defensive back.
This year, Barnes has helped lead the Tigers to their best regular season in more than two decades.
The team is going to a bowl game for the first time since 1998. They also clinched their first eight-win season since 1980, coming up one game short of reaching the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City.
It's just the third time the team has been bowl eligible since 1983.
The Tigers also set a record this year by going 6-0 at home for the first time in school history.
Every player has games in which they played well, but Barnes says they all stand out to him.
The Tigers' first win against Nebraska since 1978 and a 62-31 win against high-powered Texas Tech rank at the top of his list.
"Every game I can say is my favorite," said Barnes. "We set the record for wins at Faurot Field, we set records this year in beating Nebraska, we shut down one of the top offenses in the nation (Texas Tech). We really shut Oklahoma down except for about a six minute stretch. In the second half they scored three points."
Mizzou is expected to go to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., to face Arkansas. The official announcement will come on Sunday.
"It's real exciting, especially since I get to be a part of that and setting that standard that I'm sure will always be around for years to come," said Barnes of going to a bowl. "I hear all the talk, but it really doesn't matter to me where we go. Just put me on the field."