OCILLA -- Tonight before the Irwin County-Berrien High football game in Ocilla, a special ceremony will be held to honor former Irwin County Indian running back Verondre' Barnes.
Barnes, who plays at Liberty University, will be on hand as the Indians will retire the No. 33 jersey he wore during his career at Irwin County High.
"We are going to give him his old white jersey put up in a shadow box. A plaque on the bottom will mention all of his accomplishments. It will also mention the character and discipline he showed during his time here," said Irwin County assistant principal Brian Chestnutt.
Barnes is the all-time leading rusher at Irwin County High School with 5,200 yards on 770 carries. Barnes also caught 39 passes for 640 yards. In his career, he completed 14-of-25 passes for 274 yards. He also had 53 kickoff returns for 1,751 yards. That includes his senior year, where Barnes returned 22 kickoffs for 919 yards and three touchdowns. Besides kickoffs, Barnes returned 12 punts for 108 yards and three interceptions for 89 yards.
In his four years at Irwin County, Barnes scored 480 points. That included 70 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and four kickoff returns for touchdowns. He had 7,788 all-purpose yards during his career.
As a high school senior in 2000, Barnes received numerous honors. He was the Tifton Gazette's All-Tiftarea Offensive Player of the Year, named to the "Super 24" by the Florida Times-Union, the first-team All-State Class AA kick returner by the Georgia Sports Writers Association, a honorable-mention All-State Class AA running back by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and first-team All-Southwest Georgia kick returner by the Albany Herald. At Liberty, Barnes has rushed for 864 yards this season on 155 carries. His average of 108.0 yards per game is No. 20 in the national Division I-AA rankings.
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