Sept. 9, 2002
Once buried on the Huskies' depth chart as a defensive lineman, sophomore Khalif Barnes has blossomed into an NFL prospect at offensive tackle. In 2002, Barnes is tasked with protecting the weak side of the line for quarterback Cody Pickett, while clamping down on opposing defensive ends to open up lanes for tailback Rich Alexis. GoHuskies.com caught up with the Spring Valley, Calif., native as he prepared for Washington's 31-10 victory over San Jose State.
GoHuskies.com: When you came to UW you were and defensive player, how
does it feel to have not only made the switch to offense, but become one of
the premier offensive linemen in the Pac-10?
Khalif Barnes: "I was a defensive end for all of the 2000 season. Then a couple of days before the Rose Bowl practices, Coach Neuheisel wanted to try me out on the offensive line. At first I was kind of mad about that because I wanted to play defense. I played a little bit of offense in high school, but I was primarily a defensive player. I had my heart set on that, so to have someone tell me two days before the Rose Bowl practices that I was going to do something else was hard. The coaches said, 'Just give it a try; if you don't like it, we'll move you back.' I tried it out and I have been doing pretty well at it so far. I just loved the game and wanted to get on the field. If playing offense was the way to do that, then that's what I was willing to do."
GH: If it wasn't for football what would you be doing?
Barnes: "Hopefully, I would be playing basketball. Basketball was my first love. I have been playing ever since I can remember. When I was a little kid I would run around with a basketball in my hand. I badly wanted to be in the NBA."
GH: With your love for basketball where does football rank?
Barnes: "Football is not bad at all. As I have grown and gotten older, I have learned to love and respect the game. That is the way that life has taken me and I just love sports in general. Those are my two favorite sports, and I love both of them."
GH: What is your favorite football movie?
Barnes: "My favorite football movie would have to be 'The Program.' There is just something about it. When I was younger, watching that linebacker smash his head through the window gave me a rush and fired me up."
GH: If you could be any celebrity, who would you be?
Barnes: "Michael Jordan. I would want to know what it is like to be the greatest athlete of all time. That guy is great. During the first quarter of the Michigan game when we were down 14-0, and during the times when we have suffered our tougher losses, I always think of Jordan because he is so great. He has accomplished so much. He has taken his blows and shown that he can come back strong the next day or the next game. He is a great role model for a lot of people. I would like to have a shot at seeing what it is like being the best."
GH: If you could date anyone famous who would it be?
Barnes: "(laughing) I don't know if my girlfriend would want to read this one. There would be a lot of people, but one person that I find very attractive is Ashley Judd, either her or Beyonce from Destiny's Child. Ashley Judd is just a really talented actress, and her movies are great. As a matter of fact, I just watched one of her movies in the hotel before the Michigan game < 'High Crimes' with Morgan Freeman. I would like to meet her one day.
GH: Now, would you chose one of these girls over your girlfriend?
Barnes: "Oh no, nothing could compare to my girlfriend."
GH: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Barnes: "The night before, I listen to a mix CD that I have. Right before I go to bed, I try to visualize myself the next day in the game. I visualize going through the plays. We have a script of the first plays that we will run in the game and I visualize myself running through the first 10. I imagine the good and the bad < if we get picks, fumbles, how are we going to handle it? I like to come out prepared for the worst and the best. Finally, I get a nice night's sleep and wake up the next morning, get on the bus and listen to my CD again to get into a zone."
GH: What is your favorite football video game?
Barnes: "That would have to be Madden 2003. I think Madden is the man; his video games are awesome. Cody Pickett, some of the other guys and I have tournaments all the time. Man, I could play that game forever."
GH: What is your favorite team to use?
Barnes "I use the Raiders. I love the Raiders. The Steelers, Eagles and 49ers are all great teams too. I like to mix it up and use a bunch of different players."
GH: How competitive do these tournaments get and who usually comes
out on top?
Barnes: "Oh, they get really competitive. I would like to say that I win all the time, but Cody would have to come in right under me. After that it is just about anybody. Cody and I are probably the best on the team and we get pretty competitive. These games have been know to lead to a few wrestling matches."
GH: What NFL player would you compare yourself to?
Barnes: "That would be former New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Kyle Turley. He is a physically dominant player that has a real mean streak. He doesn't take anything from anybody. The thing that turned me on to him the most was the way he sticks up for his team. I remember in 2001 when his quarterback was getting twisted up in the pile, so he grabbed the other player, twisted off his helmet and threw it. He was just sticking up for his teammate. It was unnecessary what the other team was doing to his quarterback, and he didn't want to see anybody get hurt."
GH: Something that people may not know about you?
Barnes: "Most people probably don't know that I have been a black belt in taekwondo for about eight years."
GH: Does that make you a dangerous person?
Barnes: "I would never showcase it or try to use it to be a tough guy. It was something I learned a long time ago. My brother, sister and I got into it for self-defense classes. My parents wanted us to get into it. Someone would probably look at me and say, 'Man, he's big and aggressive,' but I am really glad I took that class because it is where I got a lot of my finesse from."