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Football Recruiting Report
Monday, January 13, 2014

By Sammy Batten

Barmore silences doubters

Georgia stalwart joins bumper O-line crop

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By Sammy Batten
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Coaches and teachers at his middle school once discouraged Desmond Barmore from dreaming about playing major college football. But what some would see as a sign to give up, Barmore took it as a challenge.

Barmore has turned his detractors into supporters by developing into a player good enough to receive scholarship offers from programs like Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State. The 6-foot-7, 295-pounder instead opted to play for East Carolina back in November, joining what is rapidly becoming a top-heavy offensive line recruiting class for the Pirates.

With the verbal commitment from Barmore, ECU now has five offensive line prospects in the Class of 2014 with less than a month remaining before national signing day. Barmore joins previously committed Kyle Erickson from Fayetteville, NC, Erik Lenzen from Fort Lauderdale, FL, Messiah Rice of Orangeburg, SC, and Garrett McGhin of Tallahassee, FL, as blocking prospects in the class.

Barmore hails from Columbus, GA, where he really had little interest in football or any other sports until he reached the seventh grade.

"I really didn't care about football when I was younger,'' Barmore said. "I was not real coordinated when I was little. So I didn't play rec football or anything like that.

"But my seventh grade year one of the coaches at the middle school asked if I wanted to play. For some reason I said yes. I tried it and I really liked the contact. Since that very first practice I've wanted to play football every day since.''

Barmore played center for the middle school team that season, then shifted to left tackle as an eighth grader. He had grown to love football so much at that point that when a teacher asked during class what students hoped to do after high school, Barmore said he wanted to play college football.

The teacher was less than enthusiastic about Barmore's choice.

"She said only like three kids from our (middle school) team might go to college and play football, and she said I wasn't even one of the best players on the team,'' Barmore said. "She said maybe I should look into being something else.

"For me, that was huge motivation. When somebody tells me I can't do something, it makes me want to work even harder to do it.''

Barmore encountered more negative reaction to his football dreams from a middle school coach.

"He asked what college I wanted to go to, and I said, "USC (Southern Cal),''' Barmore said. "He told me they'd never come all the way across the country to recruit me. He told me you had to be a star or some stud player to go across the country to a school like that.''

A four-year varsity letterwinner and three-year starter at Hardaway High School, Barmore played one game for the freshman squad before moving up to the varsity. His first varsity action playing offensive guard came against Georgia powerhouse Valdosta.

"That was a great experience for my first varsity game,'' Barmore said. "Valdosta is one of the winningest high school programs in America. There [were] 10,000 fans there that night. It was unbelievable.''

Barmore became a full-time starter as a sophomore and over the last three years has played offensive guard, tackle and tight end. As a senior, he was named to the Ledger-Enquirer's All-Bi-City first team and was also selected to the all-state squad.

Both his former middle school teacher and coach are now big fans.

"She apologized to me later,'' Barmore said. "And when I got my first scholarship offer from San Diego State, the coach told me he was proud of me. I think they both just wanted the best for me.''

In part because of being discouraged in middle school, Barmore spends his time way from the football trying to be a positive influence on children. Every Friday he volunteers to visit a local elementary school where he reads books to first graders and often helps out during their field days.

During his visits, Barmore is often asked by the children about playing football and going to college.

"I tell them the story about being told I couldn't play college football and that I should pick something else to do,'' Barmore said. "I tell them I didn't let that stop me, and it shouldn't stop them from reaching their dreams. I let them know they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it.''

Barmore is excited to be part of the recruiting class at ECU, which first began pursuing him via an email during the spring of his junior season from offensive line coach Brandon Jones. Jones had liked what he'd seen of Barmore's video highlights and soon offered a scholarship.

After an official visit to Greenville to watch the Pirates beat UAB in November, he decided to commit.

"When I met (head) Coach (Ruffin) McNeill the first time, he called me 'son,''' Barmore said. "I knew in order to succeed in life, I needed a guy like that to push me on and off the field, and to help me out with the important things in life.

"The coaches there have been great. They are constantly sending me messages on Facebook and Twitter to see how I'm doing. A lot of schools didn't do that. They just offer a scholarship then don't call. But East Carolina calls all the time, even now that I'm committed.''

Barmore doesn't anticipate cracking the ECU lineup as a true freshman, but he believes in time he'll make an important contribution with the Pirates.

"I feel like I'll need time to adjust and improve my strength,'' he said. "But I think I'm a pretty good pass blocker because I have good speed and quickness to get in front of those speed rushers. I'm going to do everything in my power to be the best player I can to play at that level.''

E-mail Sammy Batten

PAGE UPDATED 01/12/14 09:51 PM.

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