When most Linfield football fans hear the name Jordan Barnes, they know him as a two-time all-conference selection and know that Linfield is 27-6 since Barnes first put on the purple and cardinal. They may also know that during the last two years, Barnes has started every game on the offensive line, helping Wildcat running backs rush for over 4,100 yards.
They probably know all of that.
What they may not know is that off of the gridiron, Barnes is a self-proclaimed “normal guy.” He studies, goes to class, hangs out with friends and plays video games.
During the summer months, Barnes worked at an internship with ISAT (International Seismic Application Technology). For his senior thesis, he intends to construct a seismic events model that measures the earth’s seismic activity in an attempt to better engineer structures and buildings of the future.
Sounds like a pretty normal guy, all right.
As an offensive lineman, Barnes is accustomed to not being in the spotlight. Fans usually hear or read about the performances ofthe so-called “skill position” players, but few fully appreciate that the engine behind the offensive machine is the offensive line. Linemen don't accumulate stats, they don't have records, rather their success in demonstrated is the success of their teammates.
Barnes, like many of his Linfield teammates, isn't concerned about individual performance.
“Playing for something bigger than yourself is pretty special,” says Barnes, who majors in both mathematics and physics. “The personal accolades are fine, but in the end we all want the same thing. We came to Linfield to win conference championships and a national championship.”
With only two seniors on the offensive line, experience becomes a valuable commodity. Fellow senior Hayden Mace, who plays next to Barnes on the line, says his teammate’s work ethic rubs off on the underclassmen.
“Jordan’s been one of our top linemen since he started as a sophomore. He knows the offense and does a great job of passing on his knowledge and passion to the younger generation,” says Mace. “Barnes is the epitome of a Division III lineman.”
For Barnes and the rest of the ‘Cats, this season is a chance for redemption. Barnes helped Linfield reach the NCAA playoffs both years he has started on the line, including a semifinal appearance in 2009. As Wildcat fans remember, last season’s gripping quarterfinal game ended in a disappointing double-overtime loss to St. Thomas University.
Barnes recalls the final moments of the game, with Linfield inside the St. Thomas 10-yard line and about to score in overtime to tie the game.
“I moved my guy out of the way, and I remember looking back and thinking, 'He's almost in, almost over the goal line,' and then a linebacker hit him just right and the ball popped out. It was heartbreaking.” Linfield fumbled on the 4-yard line, and just like that, their season was over.
The drive and determination of the Wildcat offensive line this season is exemplified by Barnes and his fellow teammates who have a bitter taste of last season’s playoff loss still in their mouths. The 'Cats have had talent and commitment the last two years, yet have come up just short each season. Barnes is driven to make sure that doesn't happen again, and more than just his teammates understand that.
“Jordan is a committed football player in every aspect, mentally and physically,” says Wildcats assistant coach Doug Hire. “He is tough, confident in his blocking skills and has a clear picture of overall offensive line play.”
And when the 'Cats are dealt a little adversity this season, don't worry, Barnes has seen it all before.
He started at offensive guard his sophomore season, his natural position in high school. But in his junior season, he was called on to shift to offensive tackle, having only two weeks to learn an entirely new position.
“Most people don't realize that guard and tackle have very different techniques,” explains Barnes. “Tackle is a more patient position, and guard is a more powerful position.”
Barnes took the change in stride, and through injury and other offensive changes, was asked to switch positions multiple times throughout the year. He continually adapted and improved on the way to earning his second straight first team Northwest Conference citation.
Through position changes and heartbreaking playoff losses, Barnes' stoicism resonates through his teammates. The offensive line’s mentality isn't defined by “glitz” or “glamour.” As a unit, they have an objective and they accomplish it.
“Jordan Barnes has had a great career here,” says head coach Joseph Smith. “He is a competitor, and the tougher the test, the more he seems to rise to the occasion. He has been a force for us and his play on the inside this year will dictate a great deal of our offensive success.”
No matter how tough the test or how great the occasion, Barnes is at the front of the pack, leading the 'Cats without a statistic or headline to back him up. Only the scoreboard reflects the success of Barnes and his fellow linemen, and that's all the satisfaction they need.
As for the seismic events model he's developing, he may just need a second one for use at Linfield football games this fall. Behind the Barnes-led offensive line, the Wildcats rushing game could be, well, ground-breaking.
-- Jordan Harlow '13
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128