May 1, 2008

Florida RB gets Ole Miss visit

Ole Miss recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn is busy visiting Florida in search of talent for the Rebels' 2009 signing class and Jacksonville (Bolles HS) running back Stephen Barnett was one prospect that Vaughn is checking out.

"Ole Miss coaches came by last week," Barnett said on Wednesday evening. "They talked to my coaches and then I called coach Vaughn and talked with him. He's really a nice guy. He's basically telling me that I'm one of his projects and he'll be evaluating me."

Barnett is yet to receive an offer from the Ole Miss staff, but could climb up the Rebels' wish list with a solid spring and an impressive showing at camps this summer, particularly if the Ole Miss is unable to land the likes of Kendrick Hardy and Mike Gilleslie.

Barnett, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with 4.47 speed, received an offer from the Naval Academy on Monday - which would provide an opportunity for him to follow his father's career track - his father is a career Naval officer. However, for now, the younger Barnett is exploring some other options.

Navy is Barnett's only offer to date, but he's also receiving interest from Wake Forest, Nebraska, Louisville, Stanford and several other schools in addition to Ole Miss.

Despite a lot of attention from Wake Forest, and the Demon Deacons and Nebraska being his favorites, there's one school that still stands out.

"Ole Miss is still at the top," Barnett said.

Ole Miss has been at the top for Barnett for most of the time since he attended the Ole Miss - LSU game in Oxford last fall and fell in love with the campus.

However, there was a period when Barnett second guessed his current favorite school.

"I had been recruited by the old staff and I really liked David Carrao (former Ole Miss linebackers coach who recruited Florida) and when he left, there was a period that I didn't hear much from Ole Miss," Barnett said. "The loss of Carrao upset me. I felt like I had fell off their map. I had been getting letters and that stopped. But, I knew what was going on with the coaching change. Ole Miss has made up a lot of ground with me since I've talked with coach Vaughn."

Barnett has been told by several schools that they'll be evaluating him this spring, and Barnett will get a chance to impress starting on Friday.

"I just picked up my pads today," he said. "We start on Friday and I can't wait to get started and I'm excited to get out there."

Barnett said Ole Miss has not talked to him yet about camping in Oxford this summer, but expects Vaughn to return in the near future and that the Rebels will talk to him about camping at Ole Miss. He said he wants to camp with the Rebels.

Barnett is unsure where he stands with most schools and feels those interested in him are still in the evaluation phase.

"I don't know if any other schools are getting close to offering," he said. "I'm hearing different things. I really don't know. Some coaches are saying that want to see me in practice. I think that's where most are at right now, and that's fine with me."

Last season, as a junior, he played in 12 games and had just over 1,200 rushing yards on 138 carries and scored 15 touchdowns.

"Steve has great vision," Bolles head coach Corky Rogers said. "I love the way he cuts. He can play anywhere on the field."

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