Tulane uses persistence in their own backyard to secure Booker T. Washington’s Arnold Barnes

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Arnold Barnes

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Arnold Barnes determined “there’s no place like home.”

The bruising running back who was a Class 3A All-State selection in 2021 has committed to Tulane University…for the second time.

Barnes verbally committed to the Green Wave earlier this year but switched his pledge to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in November.

When New Orleans native and former LSU assistant Mickey Joseph was named interim head coach at Nebraska, Barnes decided Lincoln was a great place to get an education and play a little football.  However, Joseph did not get the job permanently, opening the door for the Cotton Bowl-bound Greenies.

“If Coach Joseph was still there, I would still be headed to Nebraska,” said Barnes.  “But Tulane is close to home and I’ve got family here that will support me all the way. I wanted to put myself in the best situation I could.  I think I can compete there and be a starter as a freshman.”

The 215-pounder continued, “The 10-2 record and Cotton Bowl bid really didn’t have anything to do with my decision because a team’s record does not define what they are truly based on.”

Barnes’ coach, Wayne Reese, Jr., applauds his player’s decision because it’s always good to go where you are wanted.

“They’ve been following him more consistently than anyone else.  When you have a school like that that’s been consistent over a period of time they are more interested in you as a student-athlete on the field and off the field.  It’s a win-win for Tulane and Arnold.”

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz, the architect of the program’s turnaround from 2-10 to 10-2, recruited Barnes the old fashion way. In person. In the flesh.

Pressing the flesh.

Reese recalls at least three visits to the South Roman Street campus.  Those house calls by the coach left a lasting impression.

“Two of those times, he stayed at school the whole day.  He spent time not just talking to Arnold but to teachers and staff and other students—just getting a feel of the building,”  Reese recalled. “It was the first time a head coach came to Booker T. and actually got familiar with the surroundings.  He was working to find out what kind of kind Arnold is.”

The point is, Reese sees fewer college coaches on high school campuses.  The transfer portal, where college athletes can move from school-to-school without having to sit out a season, means college coaches are recruiting players already playing college football, thus affording fewer opportunities for prep players.

“I get it.  The pressure is on head coaches to win right now and the best way to do that is to go with the more experienced guy.   But at the end of the day, you have to even-up.  The way people are transferring out, I think you need the high school kids who you will have for three or four seasons to sustain a winning program.”

Reese points out ignoring high schoolers is at all levels of college football, including FBS, FCS and Division II.

“Some have been really honest with me.  They outright say they are dealing with the transfer portal and we’ll deal with the high schoolers next week.  Next week has come and gone. I’m still waiting”

Fortunately, in the race for the services of Barnes the colleges came calling.  In the end, it came down to Iowa and Tulane.  After Nebraska was eliminated, he considered Charlotte, Navy, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa.

Tulane is fortunate that they chased Arnold Barnes.   Wayne Reese feels his prized pupil and other local prospects can remain in the neighborhood.  In the case of Barnes, the trip from high school to college is a shade over two miles, the distance between Booker T. Washington High School and Yulman Stadium.

Maybe Arnold will be the start of the return for the “Uptown Connection” to Tulane.  It’s good to see the Green Wave recruiting again in the metro area and the inner city.

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