This Sentell’s Intel rep has the latest with 4-star CB Marcellus Barnes Jr. in Tennessee. He ranks as the nation’s No. 32 CB and No. 376 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. The On3 Industry Ranking has him as the nation’s No. 35 CB and the No. 358 overall recruit.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Tennessee cornerback Marcellus Barnes Jr. desperately wanted to win a state title with his team on Thursday night.

He had halted all the major moving parts of his recruiting process (aside from decommitting from Virginia Tech) until after that deed could be done.

It was.

McCallie held off Baylor 34-28 in a thrilling Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association Division II Class AAA state title game at Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium.

Bryant fought off some nagging ills heading into the game and then battled cramps the entire contest for his Blue Tornadoes. He still came up with two tackles, was tight in coverage to pick off a pass and return it for 32 yards and also broke up another key pass in the final quarter of a riveting ballgame.

“Honestly I’ve been dealing with a heel injury for about two weeks now,” Barnes Jr. said. “I was able to get the shot that numbed the pain. It hurt. I’ve never experienced any pain like that. But I was able to get the shot. At halftime, I got a second shot so I was just like ‘Please anything I can do to get through this game’ but I’ve been dealing with that and then I just started cramping really bad with my hamstring.”

At that point, he was like it was always something with him at the end of this memorable McCallie season. He got some muscle relief gel and also went through several rounds of rigorous stretching with the team trainer on the sidelines when the defensive was off the field.

“I would do anything to finish this game,” he said. “I was willing to die out there today.”

When he finally took a breath, it sounded like he had another whirlwind of information to share about the final steps of his recruiting process.

To simplify the matter, it makes sense to index it with a few quick-hit statements.

  • Georgia cornerbacks coach Fran Brown let him know before the official announcement came out about his move to Syracuse. He got a lot of notice and a proper heads-up on that one.
  • Brown also offered Barnes to come play for him at Syracuse. Barnes said he’ll consider that offer and ponder taking an official visit to see Brown even though he noted it is quite cold up in Orangemen territory.
  • That’s not the only OVs he now has on his mind. Barnes said he will now likely grant OVs to Georgia, Ole Miss and also likely to recent hard-charger LSU in his recruitment.
  • The Bulldogs are likely to get his first official visit, he said. “Due to me having a really good relationship with them and I’ve talking to them the longest,” he said. “To be honest. I would say that Georgia will probably be first. For sure.”
  • Ole Miss checks on him before every game. They check on him daily off the field as well. “I love that about Ole Miss,” he said.
  • He shared a fresh perspective on his decision and signing timeline. “Honestly I feel like it might be December because I think I will know where I want to be after those couple of visits. My top ones are Georgia and Ole Miss, but with LSU coming in they are coming in pretty hard. I really do like that about them. We’ll see.”
  • Barnes said pretty definitely that he wants to play in the SEC and he feels like by Dec. 20 he will have his decision down by then for sure.
(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

Did you know the weekly "Before the Hedges" program is available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.

What did Marcellus Barnes Jr. have to say specifically about Georgia?

Barnes said a few things about the Bulldogs that will draw some attention. He said he’ll pull for the ‘Dawgs in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

He said Brown leaving for Syracuse only affects his standing “a little bit” with the back-to-back national champions.

“I love Georgia,” he said. “I love coach [Will] Muschamp and I love Coach [Kirby] Smart. I love how they attack every offense they go against.”

Brown was always very open with the Barnes family. If he got a head coaching job offer, then he was going to leave Georgia because that was his career goal.

“My Dad really did appreciate him for being honest,” he said. “I did because you never really know in the coaching world, but it really did hurt. I’ll be honest but with him offering me over the phone [to play for Syracuse] before it ever really got out that meant a lot to me.”

“It really showed me that we have a great bond and he really does feel good about me.”

Here’s where a novel part of the conversation with Barnes came to light. It centered around this question: Does he need to see Georgia hire a corners coach before he could commit to the ‘Dawgs?

Does he need to see that? Or at least get a heads-up? Or does he trust Muschamp and Smart to hire the right guy?

“I honestly do have more than enough confidence in Coach Smart and Coach Muschamp,” he said. “They’ve been doing this for years, man. I really do just trust them as coaches and honestly, if they did hire a corners coach that wasn’t as good, I still would be pretty comfortable. Even though I would be with of course the corners coach the most. I just love how Coach Smart has that defensive mindset. I have a lot of trust in him for sure.”

Barnes even wore some black Georgia gloves in the state championship on Thursday.

“That was my first time wearing them,” he said. “Big game. I was like I’ve got to bring them out. I also wore the [black] ski mask so they matched the ski mask. I really do like those gloves. They are probably my favorite ones right now.”

He said the Georgia staff alerted him that Brown might leave after this season. He was given an inkling at least of that back with his last visit for the Ole Miss game.

“They’ve been very good on communicating with me and my family about what’s going on,” he said. “They’ve always been honest with me.”

He doubled down on the fact Muschamp and Smart have taken over the lead roles in his recruiting over the last week.

“I will play against the best of the best if I go to Georgia,” he said. “I will get a lot of exposure and of course, I want to play in the NLF and I feel they will set me up the best. That is really my main thing. My parents told me that you need to make a decision based on what your goals are. Of course, Georgia having all those defensive guys drafted that’s huge to me.”

(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
4-star senior cornerback prospect Marcellus Barnes Jr. at McCallie in Tennessee saw his high school win a TSSA Division II-Class AAA state championship on Thursday, November 30, 2023, at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation) (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)
(Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.


(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)