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Florida Football Recruiting

An unexpected path led Barber to fulfill a life long dream

December 17, 2020

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Back in June of 2019 an unexpected summer storm – if there's such a thing in the 'Sunshine State' – was the first step on a path that would eventually lead Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian three-star offensive tackle Austin Barber‍ to fulfilling his dream of becoming a Florida Gator.

Walking to the IPF that day, Austin's father, Mark Barber, introduced himself and his son to Inside the Gators, while explaining the circumstances which led them to Gainesville that day.

The two were scheduled to go to another camp, but it was called off due to inclement weather. Instead of turning around and going home, they spoke with UF offensive line coach John Hevesy about unofficially visiting UF that day, but not participating in the camp.

However, it wasn't long before the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder was in a camp dry-fit shirt and a pair of cleats taking part in drills.

The Florida staff saw enough of him that day to huddle up with him after the camp, but not enough to earn him an offer or shoot him to the top tier of their offensive line board.

Things however do change.

Fast forward 17 months and Barber, who at that time was transferring from Yulee to Trinity Christian in order to gain more attention along the recruiting trail, caught the eye of the school he wanted to attend all along.

Though the offer and commitment came within hours of each other earlier today, Florida has in fact been recruiting Barber for a while.

“They've been talking to my coaches about me for a good while,” said Barber, who backed off a commitment to Minnesota roughly a month ago. “My coaches have been hinting at me that they [Florida] were going to pull the trigger and then they [Florida's staff] started talking to me about three weeks ago. They told me that they had to figure out the numbers and go from there.

“I talked to Coach [John] Hevesy about three days ago and Coach [Dan] Mullen told me there were some things in the works and asked me not to sign any papers yesterday. He asked me to wait until Friday, 'We've got some things cooking.'”

Barber gambled on himself and Florida, and now he'll be suiting up in the Orange & Blue rather than Orange and Green.

“When Florida came in, I knew I was going to be a Gator, but if something happened and it didn't work out for me to go to Florida, I was going to sign with Miami in February,” said Barber.

You can hear it in his voice, it has been a whirlwind couple of days.

On Wednesday Trinity Christian played for and won a state championship in football, and now, less than 24 hours later Barber receives an offer, commits, and signs with Florida.

“These are probably the two best days of my life,” said Barber. “I wanted to go out with a bang and we did that by winning a title and then getting offered by the school that has been my dream school since I was a little kid. Realizing that I'm going to play in the Swamp, with 100,000 fans in the stands, it's all been a dream come true.”

Not only did his dream of being a Gator help lead him to sign with Florida, but a budding relationship with Hevesy played a part as well.

“You know, I really like Coach Hevesy,” explained Barber. “He's a hard-nosed, gritty coach. That's what I really need for the next level. Being at Trinity, I don't really get yelled at much, but I think that's what I need to get me to be a better player overall.”

Barber said that he signed his Letter of Intent and sent it in earlier today and they will hold a ceremony at the school for him on Friday. He will enroll at Florida over the summer.

An unexpected path led Barber to fulfill a life long dream

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