Lakeland's Barnum commits to UF

Lake Gibson's Ricky Barnum will visit UF on Friday.

Cindy Skop/ The (Lakeland) Ledger
Published: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 8:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 8:24 p.m.

LAKELAND — Ricky Barnum made his decision at 7:30 Friday morning. He wanted to be a Gator.

The Lake Gibson offensive lineman called Florida and talked to assistant coach Charlie Strong first.

“They were excited,” said Barnum, a first-team, All-Polk County selection. “They thought it was going to be bad news. I’m excited to play up there.”

Barnum, who was also recruited by teams like Michigan, South Florida, Georgia and West Virginia, has yet to make an official visit to Florida, but he could see head coach Urban Meyer next week when Meyer is in town for the Lakeland football banquet.

Barnum’s official visit is set for Friday, and he has visits set-up with USF and Michigan in the ensuing weeks. But he indicated that if all goes well on his visit to Florida, he could cancel the other trips.

Barnum found out Friday that he got an 18 on the ACT. He needed a 16 to qualify academically.

“That was such a relief,” said Barnum, who plans to major in criminal justice. “The first thing you have to do is pass the FCAT, which I did in the 10th grade. The second thing is to pass the SAT (or ACT). You still have to keep up your GPA, but you don’t have to stress out anymore.”

The 6-foot-2 Barnum, who is playing basketball for the Braves, weighed 278 pounds at last weekend’s Under Armour All-American game at Disney.

“He’s got great feet and can get to the next level,” Lake Gibson coach Keith DeMyer said.

Barnum could join a few other former Polk County players on Florida’s offensive line, including Jason Watkins from Lake Gibson and Lakeland’s Maurkice Pouncey. Maurkice’s twin brother Michael finished the season on the Gators’ defensive line but could also wind up back on offense.

A guard in high school, Barnum could be moved to center, and he will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“He (Strong) said it’s open,” Barnum said. “If I go in and work hard, it’s up to me.”

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