As a junior on the Harker Heights football team, Tony Barnes tore his MCL and PCL in the Knights’ fourth game of the season, putting his high school and college gridiron dreams on hold.
On National Signing Day, after a full recovery and return to the Knights’ lineup as a wide receiver and defensive back last fall, Barnes signed with Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla., completing his comeback story.
Now, the senior is enjoying the run to the playoffs by the Knights basketball team and the opportunity to play at the next level.
How did you find out about Southern Nazarene?
I didn’t find out — they found out about me. And they kept emailing me about how they were looking at me and interested in me. I looked at the school, and they invited me to come down and go on a visit, and I’ve been down there. It feels like a second home. And they’ve shown me love ever since my junior year when I got hurt. A lot of schools backed away from me, but they stayed with me, checked on me and asked me how I was doing. You’ve really got to appreciate that.
What was it like to have a school go out of its way to make you feel at home and make you feel wanted?
It’s a blessing. It really is. Them coming out from Oklahoma and looking at me, it’s really a blessing. I’m speechless right now, but it’s just a blessing to go up there. I’m going next year and trying to help them turn their season around.
What position do they want you to play?
I’m playing receiver down there.
How did your injury happen?
My fourth game last year, my junior year, homecoming game, I was blocking and I got cut blocked.
When you get hurt on a block like that how did that make you feel?
It made me feel bad for myself, but at the same time, anything that I’ve got to do to help my team win — and if I do have to get hurt or whatever — I’m going to take my injury and at least I left my mark on the field. If I have to sit out, I tried to help the team. At least when I leave the game, I played on the squad and helped them and supported them to win.
What was the rehab like?
You know, it was tough. With school, going in the morning at 6 and rehabbing, riding the bike, leg stuff, it really paid off for me in my senior year.
How do you look back on your senior year?
When I came back my senior year a lot of people were shocked. A lot of people didn’t think I would be faster than I used to be. But I came out there and made plays and got touchdowns and stuff, and I enjoyed it.
It was a blessing to come and just have fun with the guys because at the end of the day I was kind of worried if I was still going to get looked at. But at least somebody still looked at me.
In an offense where you guys were predicated on the run, what was it like being a receiver in that offense?
I’m not a cocky person. I’m not greedy about getting the ball. Keep moving the ball, winning games, putting points on the board and if I have to block I’m going to block the whole game. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make sure the team gets the “W.”
Is the offense at Nazarene going to be similar or is there going to be more passing down there?
When I went down there, they talked about they wanted to go faster and do more stuff in the spread and get back to what I used to play when I was a junior. I’m going to get back to what I used to play and we’re going to hope for big things out of next year.
I also notice that you’re at almost every Heights boys basketball game. I even saw you over at Ellison. How many basketball games do you go to?
They supported me all my years playing football and you know I’ve got to go see my boys during their season. I go to all their games. If it’s out of town, I’m driving down there, and I’m just supporting them all the way. You only get this once to support your boys.