Clemson DE Barnes: No holding me back

Clemson's Tavaris Barnes sacks Maryland quarterback Shawn Petty during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 45-10. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

CLEMSON - They've coaxed Tavaris Barnes to change his ways, trying their darndest to convince the Clemson defensive end he's capable of being more than just a name on a depth chart.

Only Tavaris Barnes truly held the power and influence for Tavaris Barnes to make a difference.

"So many people have been talking to me through my career, saying 'it's time to go.' I had to talk to the man in the mirror, man," Barnes said after Saturday's spring game. "The man in the mirror was holding me back. There ain't no holding me back anymore. The world is mine."

Clemson's offensive tackles couldn't hold back Barnes in its open scrimmage, and he collected five "sacks" - all it took was just touching the quarterback holding the ball, but still - to punctuate an extremely promising spring for the former four-star recruit from Jacksonville.

When Barnes' "Man in the Mirror" comment was mentioned to Dabo Swinney, the charismatic head coach grinned and busted a dance move, singing a lyric from the so-titled Michael Jackson song, which concludes, by the way, with the words "make that change," an appropriate message to Barnes.

"He's just gotten focused. He got serious about it," Swinney said. "He knows he's got the ability; I think he's just finally figured that out and he's trying to do everything he can to maximize this year. I'm pulling for him."

Swinney has decent reason to dance, tantalized by the thought of Barnes bookending Vic Beasley to give Clemson yet another gameplan-wrecking option on a stacked defensive line.

"Vic's a speed rusher, I'm more of a power rusher," said the 6-4, 275-pound Barnes. "Vic can flush him to me or I'll flush him to Vic. (Defensive tackle) Grady (Jarrett) can get movement on guards or whatever. We definitely complement each other's games."

"It's dangerous. There's no getting away from us."

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables likes what he's seen out of Barnes this spring; understandably, he awaits the results that count this fall, on whether it's Barnes, Shaq Lawson, Ebenezer Ogundeko or someone else to complement the All-American Beasley.

"Vic is proven. He can consistently beat guys one-on-one. Who else has? I don't know," Venables said. "We've got one. I think guys understand we need to get a couple more. It's a solid group that can cause disruption and collapse a pocket."

Recall last spring, when Beasley was the hot topic around practices. Barnes would seem to fit that mold in 2014.

"His commitment level has increased, and therefore his motor has increased also," Beasley said. "You can just see it today, his effort in being able to get to the quarterback. Usually (last year,) Tavaris would get tired here and there after a couple reps, but he's been putting in work and you can see it's starting to pay off for him."

Barnes, 22, is in his fifth and final season with the Tigers, and his career numbers are meager: 45 tackles, 4½ for a loss, and two sacks in 34 games. His new motto is "just get it" and come to practice with a positive outlook.

"Come out with an 'I don't care, it don't matter' type of attitude, just get it," Barnes said. "Last year, I'd come out and practice, and I'd just complain. 'Ah, I don't want to practice.' Now, let's get it. I'm here to work."