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Barnes' big hit is a big hit with fans, teammates

September 19, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It took all of 20 seconds for Kevin Barnes to become a celebrity.

All it took was one hit and he became a rock star - with the emphasis on rock.

The University of Maryland defensive back hit the top 10 charts with - and like - a bullet with one of those classic tackles that players live for, fans never forget and outlets like YouTube immortalize.

The clock started on what has become more than 15 minutes of fame for Barnes last Saturday with 3:15 remaining in the first half as Maryland hosted California in an East vs. West standoff. Barnes struck like Big Ben and leveled Jahvid Best, the Golden Bears' all-purpose running back who was lined up in the left slot as a pass receiver.

It was a simple swing screen pass designed to move Best out on the edge of Maryland's defense. Kevin Riley's pass was high and Barnes did his level best to level Best, preventing the completion.

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"I hit him with my left shoulder. That hit, it was different," Barnes said. "I heard the reactions of the fans. I didn't know what had happened."

What happened? Barnes put Best on his back and he wasn't getting up. When he did, it was with the help of the California training staff. Best not only lost his perspective and his balance, Best lost his lunch, too.

The hit became an instant favorite on YouTube, the internet's video-clip haven, as it showed that Best was hit so hard, he vomited.

"I went out after the game for a little bit and like 30 or 40 people came up to me talking about the hit," Barnes said. "I mean, at the time, I didn't exactly know what happened. I was just in the momentum of the game, and then everyone called me after the game telling me he (Best) threw up and sending me links to YouTube."

Celebrity status has stuck with Barnes for the whole week, but the hit may have had more of a lasting effect.

Like any creative effort, Barnes' hit didn't go without a review.

"What was refreshing is that tackling probably isn't Kevin's strong point and it was an area that would've hurt us last year," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He has made a conscious effort to get better at it. The thing I liked about it is that Kevin goes in a lot of times with his head down and that is very dangerous. The hit he made, he had his head up in a good hitting position."

It was a play that helped change the complexion of the game, even though the Terps were ahead 21-6 on the way to a 35-27 victory. In the long run, it could have helped change the course of Maryland's season as the Terps moved to 2-1.

"(Best) pretty much single-handedly gave us a problem in the first half, so being able to take him out of the lineup for that amount of time definitely helped us out," Barnes said. "I don't think that play was game-changing, but it took him out of the lineup for a while. He wasn't the same after that."

Best was reduced to 25 yards rushing and rarely touched the ball in the second half. He had averaged more than 200 yards a game until Saturday.

With Best rendered ineffective, California went to the air to score 21 points in the fourth quarter to make the game unnervingly close.

Fame hasn't changed Barnes too much. Sure, he is getting noticed a little, but he still knows he has to work on his tackling.

But with the instant notoriety comes a need for a little street cred.

"Did it bother me that (Best) threw up? They probably gave him something," Barnes said. "Am I sorry that I hit him so hard? He's not permanently hurt. He'll probably play this week."

Barnes doesn't have the street-cred part of the act down just yet.

"If he was permanently hurt, I'd be worried," he said.

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