Posted: 3:35 pm Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
By Ken Sugiura
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.
|Anghelescu, Alexandra||BSBA||Women’s Tennis|
|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|
|Chiu, Eric||BSID||Men’s Swimming|
|Christian, Kellie||BSCS||Women Track/Crs Ctry|
|Erdman, Christian||BSBMED||Men’s Track/Crs Ctry|
|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|
|Gutierrez, Austin||BSME||Men’s Track/Crs Ctry|
|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|
|Kenny, John||BSBA||Student Manager|
|Khosravi, Christopher||BSME||Men’s Swimming|
|Lagerqvist, Anton||BSIE||Men’s Swimming|
|Maye, Dawnn||BSSTC||Women’s Basketball|
|McKee, Julienne||BSBA||Women Track/Crs Ctry|
|Miller, Daniel||BSMGT||Men’s Basketball|
|Morgan, Samuel||BSBA||Men’s Swimming|
|Morris, Jason||BSMGT||Men’s Basketball|
|Nilsson, Andreas||BSBC||Men’s Swimming|
|Penk, Erica||MSDM||Women Track/Crs Ctry|
|Prasch, Edward||BSBA||Student Manager|
|Randolph, Chase||BSIE||Student Manager|
|Recinos, Kevin||BSBA||Student Manager|
|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|
|Salmon, Ryan||BSME||Men’s Swimming|
|Stewart, Bianca||BSBA||Women Track/Crs Ctry|
|Thompson, Erica||BSBA/CE||Women’s Basketball|
|Waller, Stephen||BSME||Student Manager|
|Zolondek, Lauryn||BSME||Student Trainer|