From the Hay Fields to the Football Field

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LONGWOOD - Tim Barnes was already 6'2" and 270 pounds going into high school, so it wasn't hard to catch recruiters attention. He committed to Mizzou two years before he came to school.

On a gravel road in a tiny Missouri town, you'll find the Barnes family farm.

"This little dinky town you came through up here is Longwood," said Jeff Barnes, Tim's dad.

The population is sixteen and there were even fewer people on Tim Barnes' high school football team.

"One game we finished with nine," remembers Tim. "We played a lot with just twelve on the sideline...eleven on the field and one person on the sideline."

But Barnes doesn't sit on the sideline when it comes to football or helping take care of more than 100 acres on the Barnes family farm.

Tim said, "We all grew up helping. We had to help. We were expected to. So coming up and doing it... It's just home especially in the summer."

"I tell you what... when you got a kid that's 6-4, 310 pounds and you're putting square bales in the barn that's his skill," said Jeff Barnes, "As far as I'm concerned... that's his best skill far and away."

Skills he learns on the farm translate onto the field. Barnes is considered one of the best centers in the country.

"He can do things at 310 pounds that I've not seen guys do that weigh 185 sometimes," said Jeff Barnes.

Tim said, "I'd say it helped a lot of just being bigger and all the stuff we do around here that's more physical labor."

When it comes to hard work...there's nothing like farm-life.

"These aren't too bad," said Tim, "they're probably like 60 pounds."

Jeff said, "There's art to it, but when you're that big you don't have to use the cheat tactics."

"I'm so tired and then we still had two more loads to go. Load em and unload em. Whenever you're tired you still got work," said Tim.

Mizzou coaches didn't even have to go to the farm to find Tim. He came to them at a football camp before his freshman year in high school.

"We have 171 players in camp and he said we got one Division One recruit and that's your son," remembers Jeff. "I got goosebumps thinking about it still to this day. It's tremendous. It really is."

And his career could continue after Mizzou. A draft expert recently ranked Barnes as the fifth best center in next year's draft.

"That would be something else wouldn't it," said Tim ,"especially coming from something like this. That's be pretty cool. I'd enjoy it."

Whether it's on a football or hay field, Barnes is always at home.

"This is where they grew up and this is where there heart is, it really is," said Jeff Barnes.

If you're a small-town football player, Barnes says going to football camps is the best way to get noticed.

Barnes enters this season with a streak of 27 starts at center. Barnes is the third of only three centers to start for Mizzou in the Coach Pinkel Era.