Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Target's family raves about trip to Arkansas
Linebacker DJ Barber, his sister Daija, father Derrick, and mother Berniece during an April 20 visit to Arkansas.
Arkansas linebacker target DJ Barber and his father Derrick raved about their March visit to Fayetteville, and a return trip on April 20 was a must so his mother Berniece could see the city for herself.
His younger sister Daija also made the second trip.
“It went real well this time because I was able to get back up there and see everything with my family – my full family,” Barber said. “My mom and my sister got to come with us this time. They loved it.”
Barber, 6-0, 220 pounds, of Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and other schools.
College coaches say winning over the mother of a prospect is a must, and it appears the Razorbacks did that with Barber’s mother. The Jerry and Gene Jones Student-Athlete Success Center and the support Arkansas gives to the student-athletes was one of several things that caught her attention.
“She loved it up there,” Barber said. “She loved the campus. She loved the coaches, she loved how involved the coaches are – not just the football standpoint things but the academics. We went and talked to the academic advisor and she loved how involved she is and how precise she is with what she does in making sure that everybody is up to par with their grades.”
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Since Sam Pittman’s arrival in Fayetteville as head coach, every player who has exhausted his eligibility during has graduated.
Barber and his father talked up the Razorbacks to his mother, and while her expectations going into the trip were high, she didn’t leave disappointed.
“She told me it exceeded her expectations,” Barber said. “Not saying she thought bad about anything because we were obviously coming back home saying good things about it. Of course, it has to be true. She said it exceeded her expectations. What really put the exceeding part on it, everybody showed her a great time.
“Everybody made her feel just as welcomed as they did me and my dad the first time we came.”
Barber was named Class 6A first team All-State after recording a team-high 145 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks and 2 interceptions as a junior. ESPN and 247Sports rate him a 3-star recruit, and Rivals has him as a 4-star prospect and the No. 13 inside linebacker nationally.
Spending time with Pittman and Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams highlighted the visit for his mother.
“She loved T-Will and she loved Coach Pittman as well,” Barber said. “T-Will, she just liked how involved he is, not just the football aspect, but in a player’s life. Just him being involved in everything they do, whether it be on the football field, what they're doing in the classroom or what they've got going on outside of college.”
Assistant linebackers coach and senior defensive analyst Jake Trump is also involved in Barber’s recruitment. He and Williams made a strong impression on Barber and his family at the beginning of the latest visit.
“They just loved the way that he and T-Will were welcoming and wholesome just from the time that we walked in the door,” Barber said. “As a matter of fact, they were waiting on us outside on the sidewalk as soon as we got out of the car.”
Barber and his family will make another visit to Arkansas when he officially visits June 23-25.
“I don’t have no other official visits set yet,” Barber said. “That’s the only one I have set right now.”
He commented on where the Razorbacks stand with him.
“Arkansas is still one of my top schools,” Barber said.
Barber gave a timeline for his college decision.
“I’m pushing for early August, if not sooner than that,” he said.
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