Robert Barnes never wavered on his September 7, 2015, commitment to Oklahoma and kept the Sooners atop a loaded national offer sheet, ahead of Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Texas and Notre Dame. Originally the second commit (behind only quarterback Chris Robison) in this lofty 2017 class, the Sooner legacy recently made a huge jump in 247Sports composite rankings, going from No. 45 to No. 27 overall, after the U.S. Army All-American Game and becomes the first five-star member of #SoonerSquad17. The coveted safety prospect from Southlake Carroll has the size, versatility and athleticism to step in right away for graduating starter Ahmad Thomas, likely competing with Chance Sylvie, Will Sunderland — possibly Will Johnson if he makes the positional switch — for the starting spot opposite Steven Parker.
How He Fits In
Barnes is a 6-3, 199-pound, “new age safety” with fantastic footwork and agility. He is adept at playing both the run and pass with his athleticism, instincts and discipline, and moves exceptionally well for such a long, rangy athlete. Given the genes and pedigree of his father, Barnes also displays excellent tackling ability both at the first level and in open space. His hybrid skill set could be favorably compared to that of Steven Parker — the body of a safety with the coverage skills of a cornerback. Barnes has been especially dominant at the goal line and in jump-ball situations.
The standout from Southlake also has the frame to add more weight at the next level and has the potential to become a true game changer at either safety position given how his body develops. His upside is incredibly high not only in ability but also in his football IQ and leadership and according to coaches and scouts, Barnes should have little trouble in picking up new defensive schemes quickly. The son of former Sooners linebacker and captain Reggie Barnes played the captain’s role in his high school team’s defensive unit, routinely calling out plays and ensuring his teammates lined up in the right spots.
Despite breaking his fibula in a mid-October game, Barnes enjoyed a strong senior season full of highlights and standout plays and said he expects to be back on the field by February.
Barton Simmons of 247Sports on Robert Barnes:
“In only five games as a senior, Barnes put together some of the most impressive safety tape in this class. On the camp circuit he's been one of the country's best ballhawks but turn on the tape and the dude will absolutely strike you.”