UCLA senior linebacker Krystopher “Krys” Barnes is a leader on the field and off. While being a starter for the team, he became a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in Winter 2017 and Spring 2018.
Barnes, a native of Bakersfield, graduated from UCLA in Spring 2019 and took extra classes while finishing up his final season of eligibility.
“It’s strange to be able to say you graduated from a prestigious university,” Barnes said. “It’s a great honor to be a part of this UCLA alumni which is huge.”
Being a high performing student athlete can become rigorous and uncomfortable, but Barnes rose to the occasion. Academics was a reason why Barnes chose UCLA.
“It’s a struggle, just long nights having to study, papers, a lot of stuff,” Barnes said about what it took to make the Honor Roll. “Having to get up early, like five o’clock to go workout the next day, going to class, still taking notes, so it’s a lot of work, but we all do it.”
Out of the classes he took at UCLA, his favorite was a Croatian foreign language class.
“It’s kinda probably the most interesting class I’ve been in,” he said. “It’s fun learning another culture, another language and how much it takes to really try to get a new grasp at that language.”
Having a strong support system also played a factor as Barnes mentioned how his teammates help each other and hold each other accountable. His parents also instilled in Barnes the value of education and the importance of having a strong network.
“They preached to me meet a lot of people, reach out, be friendly,” he said. “I feel I’ve done that; I’ve tried to acquaint myself with as many people as I can just to build my whole network.”
Barnes was a major contributor in hits during this past season, coming in second in the team in solo tackles with 49 and second in total tackles with 74. Against San Diego State, he made season high of 11 solo tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss for 14 yards. During the season, he accumulated 4.0 sacks for 29 yards and seven pass breakups.
Barnes is slow to exalt his own achievements but quick to magnify the effort and accomplishments of his teammates.
“I try to surround myself with great players, so I do it for them, I don’t do it for myself,” he said. “I’m so excited to see my brothers succeed. Every accolade I get or every successful thing that I do, I do it for them.”
The Bakersfield native started playing football when his was eight years old and realized he enjoyed playing defense at 12. Getting to UCLA came with a lot of effort on his end; his father, Keith, would take him to the Inland Empire and Los Angeles every weekend to practice for 7-on-7 tournaments to get noticed by colleges.
There was even a point during his freshman year of high school where he did not want to play football.
“Sophomore year, I gave it another shot and the varsity coach prior to the next year, he pulled me up to varsity,” Barnes said. “That’s what got my whole life changed, I finally realized my passion for football again.”
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