Barnes’ graduation gives 2008 signing class perfect record

With a passing grade on his finite math final exam Thursday, former Georgia Tech defensive tackle T.J. Barnes will finish his work for a management degree. It will be the completion of studies begun in 2008, when he enrolled as part of coach Paul Johnson’s first signing class.

“I’ll pass,” Barnes said by phone Tuesday. “No worries about that.”

Barnes took his final six hours this semester. He returned recently to New York to begin voluntary offseason workouts with the Jets, who signed him to their offseason roster after he had been a practice squad member last season. Barnes called it a challenge to re-enter the classroom after a season of professional football. The other odd part, he said, was “wondering what I’m going to do with all my free time now, since I’m not going to have to go to morning runs with the Georgia Tech team or go to breakfast check or meet with coaches. That was the hard part, just dealing with all my free time.”

Barnes’ solution: “Sleep, work out.”

Barnes has dropped 25 pounds and is now at 355. He hopes to slim down more as he goes through offseason training with the Jets. He is again teammates with former Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.

“He’ll come around my locker and crack jokes a little bit, reminisce about the good ole times, then he’ll go back to being a pretty boy,” Barnes said.

Barnes will fly down Wednesday, take the exam Thursday and stay for commencement on Saturday. He’ll be one of 72 current or former Tech athletes, managers or trainers who will receive a diploma. Former football players Gary Guyton and Joshua Nesbitt are two others. Family and friends, including former teammates Jamal Paige and Antonio Wilson will be there to help celebrate.

“They say they have some surprise for me,” Barnes said of family members. “It’s tickling me to find out what they have for me.”

Barnes conceded that his main priority when he arrived as a freshman from Enterprise, Ala., was playing time. But, as time passed, the value of a degree and preparation for a possible NFL career became more and more apparent to him.

“You can get hurt in a quick second, and what else do you have to lay back on?” he said.

Barnes credited Paige, Wilson and Malcolm Munroe – all former roommates – for encouraging him to complete his degree work, Paige in particular.

“He was always in my ear, telling me to make sure I come back and make sure I get my degree,” Barnes said. “He was always pressuring me about it, made sure my first offseason I went and got it.”

Barnes’ graduation represents a completion of another sort. After Saturday, all 15 of the 20-member signing class in 2008 who stayed at Tech four or more years will have graduated. (That’s Barnes, Jon Lockhart, B.J. Machen, Daniel McKayhan, Nick McRae, Munroe, Embry Peeples, Rashaad Reid, Phil Smith, Steven Sylvester, Omoregie Uzzi, Tevin Washington, Richard Watson, Antonio Wilson and Marcus Wright.)

A class of players either retained or hastily recruited after Johnson’s hire, it was not the most decorated class for its football prowess, but its degree perfection almost certainly is unrivaled among Tech signing classes dating back several years. Further, the five signees who transferred earlier – Brandon Leslie, Kamaron Riley, Jaybo Shaw, Quentin Sims and Cooper Taylor – have graduated from other schools or were on track to graduate at last check.

The 2008 class members are part of the considerable improvement Tech has experienced in its football graduation rate since Johnson’s hire. The team received recognition from the NCAA last summer for having its academic progress rate among the top 10 percent of FBS teams. The graduation rate, too, will now count Barnes.

“I didn’t want to be the only one that didn’t have it,” Barnes said.

He’ll no longer have to worry about that.

Graduating Saturday

Name Degree Sport
Andrews, Bo BSMGT Golf
Anghelescu, Alexandra BSBA Women’s Tennis
Bailey, Christopher BSBA Football
Barnes, Terence (TJ) BSMGT Football
Barron, Patrick BSNRE Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Barton, Hollis BSBMED Student Trainer
Blain, Jasmine BSHTS Women’s Basketball
Breitbach, Megan BSBIO Women Track/Crs Ctry
Burtz, Lauren BSHTS Dance
Chiu, Eric BSID Men’s Swimming
Christian, Kellie BSCS Women Track/Crs Ctry
Colson, Jennifer BSID Cheer
Colson, Kaleigh BSBA Volleyball
Connors, Matthew BSBA Football
Downs, Hayley BSBA Softball
Erdman, Christian BSBMED Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Evans, Quinn BSBA Volleyball
Fogdemark, Frida BSHTS Women’s Basketball
Fore, Caroline BSSTC Women’s Swimming
Garruba, Giulian BSBA Student Manager
Gebresilassie, Hannah BSBA Student Manager
Ginn, Margaret BSBA Student Trainer
Green, Shawn BSMGT Football
Gutierrez, Austin BSME Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Guyton, Gary BSBA Football
Hatteberg, Heidi MSAE Women’s Swimming
Holsey, Kammeon BSSTC Men’s Basketball
Hoxhaj, Ivi BSBMED Student Manager
Hubbard, Elena BSBMED Women Track/Crs Ctry
Igwe, Obiandu BSIE Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Johnson, Jacob BSBMED Men’s Swimming
Karl, Christer BSIE Men’s Swimming
Keith, Benjamin BSECON Football
Kenny, John BSBA Student Manager
Khosravi, Christopher BSME Men’s Swimming
Kolak, Ivona BSBA Volleyball
Lagerqvist, Anton BSIE Men’s Swimming
Loeffler, Patrick BSBCHM Cheer
Maye, Dawnn BSSTC Women’s Basketball
McCoy, Denzel BSMGT Football
McKee, Julienne BSBA Women Track/Crs Ctry
Miller, Daniel BSMGT Men’s Basketball
Miller, Kristina BSIE Dance
Moore, Justin BSMGT Football
Morgan, Samuel BSBA Men’s Swimming
Morris, Jason BSMGT Men’s Basketball
Nesbitt, Joshua BSBA Football
Nilsson, Andreas BSBC Men’s Swimming
Owen, Chelsea BSBMED Cheer
Penk, Erica MSDM Women Track/Crs Ctry
Percy, Jennifer BSBA Volleyball
Perkins, Charles BSMGT Football
Polak, Jared BSBA Football
Poole, Sean BSPUBP Football
Prasch, Edward BSBA Student Manager
Randolph, Chase BSIE Student Manager
Recinos, Kevin BSBA Student Manager
Reeves, Seth BSMGT Golf
Reid, Cameron BSEE Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Richardson, Briana BSCHBE Women Track/Crs Ctry
Roberts, Shawn BSME Men’s Track/Crs Ctry
Roethel, Sarah BSMSE Women’s Swimming
Rudnik, Alysha BSBA Softball
Salmon, Ryan BSME Men’s Swimming
Smith, Cameron BSCS Cheer
Stewart, Bianca BSBA Women Track/Crs Ctry
Thompson, Erica BSBA/CE Women’s Basketball
Vaughn, Sidni BSPSYC Cheer
Waller, Stephen BSME Student Manager
Werenski, Richard BSMGT Golf
Williams, Anthony BSMGT Football
Zolondek, Lauryn BSME Student Trainer

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