Barnum plans to take 5 officials

High school football has ended for Ricky Barnum. When the Lake Gibson Braves lost in the first round of the playoffs last week, Barnum’s focus shifted toward the future. The next time he plays football it will be on a much larger scale. Now he only has to decide where that will be.

Since his season is now over, Barnum hasn’t wasted much time setting up his official visits. His first visit will come December 14th when he travels to Georgia Tech. Starting January 11th; he will visit Georgia, Florida, USF and West Virginia on consecutive weekends. The 6-2, 260-pound offensive lineman plans to sit down with his family once the five official visits are through and make the best decision possible.

Getting the visits planned out took a load off Barnum’s mind but he knows that starting next week, the phone will start ringing off the hook.

“It’s calmed down a little bit now that I have that schedule set up,” Barnum said. “Next week when the coaches can start calling it will get real stressful for me though. I talk to all the coaches from those five schools, and other schools even call quite a bit to try and get me to visit them.”

The calling period will begin with coaches from plenty of elite programs begging for the offensive linemen to at least make a visit to their campus. While Barnum admits he isn’t completely down to five schools, he doesn’t see any other schools getting a visit.

“Those are the main five I’m considering,” Barnum said. “I know I want to visit those. I’m still looking at South Carolina and Miami though. I just don’t know if they’ll get a visit.”

The reason Barnum is drawn to Florida is the coaching staff. Since his junior year he has spent time speaking with several Florida coaches and the relationships have grown strong.

“I talk to Coach (Charlie) Strong, Coach (Steve) Addazio, Coach (John) Hevesy and Urban Meyer,” Barnum said. “I’m equally as close to the first three. Coach Meyer and I are close enough where I know that he likes me and wants me there.”

Barnum has been impressed by what he has seen of the Florida offensive line this season.

“They’re physical and real big,” Barnum said. “There’s also a lot of talent on their offensive line from seniors to freshmen though.”

The appealing aspect to Barnum’s game is his versatility. He started all season for Lake Gibson at tackle. However, there is only one school recruiting him to play on the outside of the O-line.

“USF wants me as a tackle,” Barnum said. “Besides them, just about every other school wants me to play center. I think that’s a good fit for me.”

Though his football season is over, basketball season is on the horizon. Basketball practice will keep Barnum from visiting Florida for this weekend’s rivalry game against Florida State.

He did visit unofficially earlier this season to see the Gators rout Tennessee 59-20, and also watched the Florida Atlantic game this weekend. The Gators have been impressive enough this season, but the home field advantage presented by The Swamp blows Barnum away every time he’s in Gainesville.

“It’s one of a kind,” Barnum said. “It’s very loud. I mean real loud. I’ve never seen a stadium that is anywhere near that loud. The atmosphere is the best in the nation.”