Harper College quarterback Garrett Barnas, here firing a pass against Grand Rapids, is headed to Syracuse.
Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer
Garrett Barnas remained positive about Syracuse football despite negatives that would have sent recruits looking elsewhere.
Late Monday afternoon, the Harper College sophomore quarterback committed to a once-proud program where head coach Greg Robinson was fired after winning just 10 of 47 games the last four years.
But Barnas, a high school standout at downstate Bureau Valley, looked at the total package in choosing the Orangemen over Iowa and South Florida.
Barnas went to Syracuse last year to watch a game with South Florida and visited again this summer.
"I was told how good the school is and the tradition they have there is unbelievable," Barnas said of a school that has produced Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Donovan McNabb. "I didn't want to jump on anything too quickly, but I kind of knew right then and there (this summer) it was where I wanted to be and I could see myself playing there."
Barnas wanted to wait until Harper's season ended to announce his decision. He was the MVP of the Valley of the Sun Bowl after leading an improbable 39-38 victory as the Hawks scored the final 33 points in the fourth quarter against Phoenix College.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Barnas set numerous school records as he passed for 5,418 yards with 47 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in two seasons. He also rushed for 1,333 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Barnas knew he might not be playing for Robinson at Syracuse. Various reports have East Carolina coach Skip Holtz, the son of former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, and Buffalo coach Turner Gill among the candidates to get the job.
"I was looking at the education and Syracuse in general," Barnas said. "I have faith in them they'll make the right choice.
"Syracuse is one of the top schools there is so that in itself made me lean toward them, even though I knew the coaching staff probably wouldn't be there."
Iowa and Northern Illinois were interested in Barnas at Bureau Valley, where his grades were good enough but he didn't have the proper core courses to qualify for a Division I scholarship.
Now Barnas is graduating from Harper this month and will be eligible to go through spring practice at Syracuse. Barnas could also play defense with his athletic ability.
"Hopefully we can turn this baby around," Barnas said. "I'm more than happy to play either side of the ball."