Tragedies help shape Barnes' focus

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS So. Defensive End
#6 6-4, 270
Jacksonville, FL

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has had to grow up in a hurry over the past few months after dealing not only with the death of a brother and a son, but getting married prior to the start of fall camp.

The Jacksonville (FL) native told reporters Tuesday evening that he feels like his added maturity will make for a productive 2012.

“It’s because I know I have something to prove on a much bigger stage,” Barnes said. “I have now moved back to defensive end, and it’s about time. I have been here for three years, and it’s about time I stopped playing around and go All In.”

Barnes said he got a dose of reality with his brother’s death in April, and the death of his infant son in early June.

“There were a lot of things that happened in the off-season that got me closer to God,” he said. “That has a lot to do with me being more focused. And I have a plan now, which is what I didn’t have my first couple of years here. Now I have a plan and a vision.”

Barnes’ brother was Gary Tinsley, a senior linebacker at the University of Minnesota who had overcome personal problems early in his career and was set to receive his degree in May. He was found dead in his campus apartment in early April, the victim of an enlarged heart.

“He got his life together and turned it around,” Barnes said of his brother. “He had an enlarged heart. Last time I saw Gary I was in Florida, on the break right after the spring. I saw him, and he told me, ‘This is your time. It’s time for you to step up. You can do it.’ Every time I had a problem, I knew I could call him. He would tell me to push through it. I took those words to heart.”

He was able to put those words to the test in early June when his son, Tavaris Barnes, Jr., was born three months premature.

“My son is where he is supposed to be right now,” he said. “But he was a preemie. He had a lot of blood on his brain and his respiratory system was not fully developed yet. I saw his heart rate go from 200 to zero. That was crazy. But when things happen in your life, you can't question God,” he said. “When my son died, I said, ‘God, I am not going to curse you.' Because He knows everything and has a plan. I want God to bless me. “

And Barnes believes he is where he is supposed to be, at Clemson and working out at defensive end.

“There was a lot going on this offseason,” Barnes said. “Coming into camp, I am more focused in my playbook. I study every night. I pay attention to detail and now I know what I am doing. The first couple of years, I was out there and I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I am getting the hang of it.”

Barnes has been working out at second-team strongside defensive end, just behind Malliciah GoodmanMalliciah Goodman
Sr. Defensive End
#97 6-4, 280
Florence, SC

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and ahead of Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
Fr. Defensive Line
#98 6-5, 275
Greer, SC

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, and he believes he will see a lot of action this season.

“I believe I am going to play a lot this year but that depends on camp,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am out there working hard. I believe I am going to be out there. I can really say that I am more focused right now, I am have bought into what Coach Swinney has been saying about being All In. That is what it takes to be successful here – being All In all the time.”

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