Oh Holy Night! The Stars Are Brightly Shining

Dec. 23, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Having read something somewhere about Georgia Tech sports information director extraordinaire Dean Buchan making a six-hour drive home for the holiday to someplace called Southern Pines, which I believe is in North Carolina, I couldn’t help but think of the concept of going over-the-river-and-through-the-woods.

Is that real?

You’d better believe it, and for a big dose of proof today we consider Tarence Jariviz Barnes.

The Tech nose tackle known as T.J. didn’t so much go home to Enterprise, Ala., to visit grandmother’s house, as “The House” went home to visit another world and to visit with his family.

Barnes is big almost beyond belief. The, “6-feet-7, 347 pounds,” seen in the Tech media guide might undercut him a bit.

The Yellow Jackets meet back in Atlanta Monday, and will leave later that day for El Paso. Before they resume preparations for the Sun Bowl (Dec. 31 vs. Utah), they’re home for Christmas like Dean.

“The holidays mean a lot to me,” T.J. said. “We really appreciate each other any time we have together.”

Home is a big deal for the Big House; this is just Barnes’ second trip to Enterprise since late July, and in his own special way he made it clear that he’s really looking forward to it.

I figured it’s a good bet that each and every Jacket has some sort of unique favorite pastime back home, and Barnes confirmed at least one special case to support my theory.

Asked what he would do once back home that might interest Tech fans, whether it might be visiting a certain diner, or cooking something, or playing shuffleboard, Barnes’ answer was quite, well, unique.

Here’s what he said he was looking forward to: “Just laying out in the grass, in open spaces, looking up at the stars. In Atlanta, you don’t see many stars and stuff like that. I’ll just relax.”

It was easy to believe that Big Barnes was messing around, but after a few more seconds it seemed clear that he meant business.

“We have dogs and stuff, a lot of land,” he said. “The kids . . . we play hide & seek, and tag. Things like that.”

Just guessing here, but T.J. would probably struggle as a hider.

He has four siblings, including an older brother — Beau Reliford — who plays football for Florida State.

Beyond his immediate family, extended family, “will come in and out,” he said. “And my mother’s family is in Montgomery. That’s a huge, huge family and I’ll see them on the way through.”

Mostly, though, Barnes is hanging out near his father — former Auburn player Terry Jones — at or near the Enterprise homestead.

He’s serious about hanging out.

“I really love looking at the stars, and there are open spaces everywhere to just lay down,” Barnes said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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