Sept. 24, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Not only does senior Brandon Barnes serve as a running back for the NC State football team, but he also serves as the barber for some of the guys on the team as well.
A native of Bunn, N.C., Barnes started cutting his own hair while he was a senior in high school after his older brother left for college and could no longer cut his hair.
“Most of the guys in our family, we cut our own hair,” Barnes said. “My dad cut my hair when I was growing up, then one of my older brothers started cutting his own hair and got good at it so he started cutting mine too.”
He excelled at many different positions in high school including cornerback, running back, safety, and wide receiver. During his senior year, his focus was narrowed as he played only running back and safety.
Barnes began playing football in the seventh grade, after giving up on his basketball career when he realized that he had stopped growing. His original dreams of being a star in basketball were left hanging in the balance as he decided to charter on a new path.
Ironically, he was put in the game at the running back position, handed the ball and told to run. He scored a touchdown in his first ever game, due to his lightning quick speed and has been playing running back ever since.
A highly touted recruit out of high school, Barnes redshirted his true freshman campaign and saw his first action in 2009 as a redshirt freshman. Barnes made his collegiate debut in a 65-7 rout over Murray State at Carter Finley Stadium, rushing for 52 yards. It did not take the Bunn native long to find the end zone as he scored a touchdown in that first game.
“It felt great to score my first touchdown,” said Barnes. “It was the first time I really saw significant action since high school. It’s always good to score and put points on the board for the team.”
Scoring was something Barnes had been accustomed to after scoring 11 touchdowns as a senior and 12 as a junior in high school. His play in high school earned him a spot in the inaugural Under Armour High School All-American game and also the Shrine Bowl game.
Barnes was one of four athletes selected to the Under Armour All-American game from the state of North Carolina. Fortunately for Barnes, his high school coach was selected to be one of the coaches on the staff and was able to accompany Barnes on the trip.
“It was a great experience,” Barnes said. “You could pretty much equate it to a bowl week in college, we were down there for about a week or so and we were able to go to Disney World and enjoy being in Orlando.”
The trip was full of firsts for Barnes, as it was the first time that he flew on a plane, and it was also the first time that he went to Disney World. In addition, it was his first time playing a football game in the state of Florida in a college-bowl-like atmosphere.
When Barnes arrived at NC State as a freshman, many of the players noticed how well his hair always looked and inquired where he went to get his haircut. Barnes responded that he cut his own hair, not realizing the influx of players needing to get their haircuts that would follow.
“I think the first players hair I cut was Terrell Manning, former NC State linebacker who’s now playing for the Green Bay Packers,” Barnes said. “Terrell had dreadlocks so he didn’t need a full hair cut he just needed an edge up.”
Once the players saw how well Manning’s edge up looked many other players started asking him for a haircut. Barnes says that he is usually the busiest on media day when all of the players want to get their haircut before the pictures are taken. He also gets a lot of requests when players go to local barbershops and they are too packed so the players decide not to endure the long wait.
Before media day in August, Barnes’ was in the locker room cutting the players hair as fast as he could to make sure everyone had a hair cut in time for the picture.
After graduation, Barnes plans on getting his barber license to maybe one day open up his own barbershop. He will graduate in May with a degree in communication with a concentration in interpersonal communication. Barnes is also interested in working in the realm of sport as a journalist or broadcaster.
In his final season in a Wolfpack uniform, Barnes saw his first action of the year at running back in the Wolfpack’s 31-7 win over South Alabama. In the Pack’s win over The Citadel on Saturday, Barnes finished with 47 yards rushing and scored from six yards out in the fourth quarter.
“He’s been working hard and he’s a great guy to have in our meeting rooms and practice fields,” said running backs coach Des Kitchings. “He’s got a big body and he has a strong lower body and he has good hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s been in the program for a while now and has been a good leader.”
In 2010, Barnes suffered a dislocated ankle in spring practice and was forced to miss the entire season. Tough timing for Barnes, as 2010 was the season that former safety Dean Haynes moved to the offensive side of the ball to handle the running back duties along with then true freshman Mustafa Greene after the depth at the position became thin.
Barnes was a member of the first recruiting class to join the program under head coach Tom O’Brien.
“It was the new coaching staff and the new era of football at NC State,” Barnes said of his commitment to the Wolfpack. “I also don’t live that far away either so that was also a plus.”
Even though Barnes was recruited to NC State as an athlete, he settled in at the running back position and has found a home there. He says that running back has always been his primary position even though he played many other positions and several other roles on his high school team.
As a senior on the team and one of the older guys at the running back position, Barnes aides the younger guys in their transition to major division I college football.
“Just telling them where to go, how to understand the blocking schemes and reading your keys in the running game is something that I always help the younger guys with,” Barnes said. “Blocking is a major focus for the running back position and you have to be able to do more than just run the football in our offense.”
When asked what the best part was about playing football for NC State Barnes simply said “The Fans, we have the best fans in the country.”