Alex Barbir knew what was at stake June 24.
The rising senior kicker from South Forsyth had been invited to a camp at Rutgers University by the Scarlet Knights’ coaching staff. They’d been talking with Barbir since the spring, eventually intimating he was their No. 1 kicking prospect. All that was left for him to get a scholarship offer, they said, was to perform well at their specialist camp.
He did, showcasing the accuracy and power that made him an all-county, all-region and all-state selection this past season for the War Eagles, and Rutgers offered Barbir a full scholarship before he left.
It was an eye-opening experience for Barbir, one that hastened his decision to verbally commit to the Scarlet Knights this week.
Barbir told Rutgers coaches this past Tuesday, then made his announcement public Friday evening on Twitter.
“I just felt it was the best offer I got,” Barbir said. “I know the coaches really want me there, think very highly of me, and they expect me to come in from day one and be able to start for them.”
Rutgers rose to prominence under former head coach Greg Schiano, who elevated the dormant program in the 2000s while in the Big East Conference. Motivated by financial gains and a floundering Big East, Rutgers announced in 2012 it would join the Big Ten starting in 2014.
Barbir, the No. 8-ranked kicker in the country, according to 247Sports.com, would join a Scarlet Knights program coming off an auspicious inaugural season in the Big Ten. It went 8-5 overall and 3-5 in conference and ended on a high note with a 40-21 defeat of North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Even so, Barbir said he never really considered Rutgers until that June 24 camp. Until then, he had only come to a gradual understanding from phone calls and Twitter direct messages with Rutgers special teams coordinator Phil Galiano how highly regarded he was by the Scarlet Knights.
That changed when he encountered the New Brunswick, N.J., campus.
“Once I got there and saw the place and met the coaches and all that, it was completely different for me,” Barbir said. “That’s when I really thought, ‘Wow, this place is amazing.’”
Rutgers offered other advantages. Barbir has an uncle and cousins who live an hour away, a professional trainer 30 minutes away and a kicking instructor who lives near Long Island, N.Y. The city is a 30-minute train ride in one direction, the beach a 45-minute car trip in the other, a major international airport 20 minutes from campus.
“There’s a lot around there for me, which is really good,” Barbir said.
It ends what Barbir said was a “so, so, so stressful” recruiting process, and leaves him to focus on helping South get back to the state playoffs.
“It’s a lot off my back,” Barbir said. “The fact that now it’s done with, it’s a huge relief.”