June 22, 2024

Film Room: Scouting RB Darwin Barlow

Inside Carolina’s Jason Staples reviews game footage of the incoming Tar Heel running back transfer.

Southern Cal transfer RB Darwin Barlow gives North Carolina a 220-pound back with excellent contact balance and burst who just got lost in the shuffle in a very talented collection of talent at USC. Barlow is a one-cut back who doesn’t go down easily and can catch out of the backfield, giving the Tar Heels an excellent option to pair with Omarion Hampton as Carolina aims to get more physical on offense.

Darwin Barlow Q&A: Running Back’s Football Journey Lands at UNC

After two seasons at TCU and three more at Southern Cal, the transfer Barlow has joined the Tar Heels. He grew up a fan of coach Mack Brown’s Texas teams.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Running back Darwin Barlow has taken a college football odyssey to arrive at North Carolina and play his final season for coach Mack Brown.

He pulled for Brown’s Texas teams while growing up in Newton, Texas, a small town sitting on the Louisiana border. Now, after two seasons in the Big 12 at TCU and three more in the Pac-12 at Southern California, the sixth-year senior Barlow has landed on the East Coast and joined the Tar Heels as a new addition through the transfer portal.

He admitted surprise when UNC running backs coach Larry Porter initially contacted him in the portal, knowing that the Tar Heels had one of the country’s top rushers in workhorse Omarion Hampton (ACC-leading 1,504 yards last season, ranking fifth overall nationally). And when he came to Carolina on his recruiting visit, meeting Brown and touring the shrine that doubles as the coach’s office at Kenan Football Center made for a surreal experience.

“I still can’t believe it to this day,” Barlow said last week. “When I was in his office when I was on the visit, I was just like, ‘this is Mack Brown.’ But I didn’t let it just impact the decision a lot. I just weighed all my opportunities. But this was the best one.”

Backup running backs Elijah Green (to Indiana) and George Pettaway (to James Madison) departed UNC during the last transfer portal cycle. They were seldom used last season, as were returnees Caleb Hood and Jordan Louie. Of the Tar Heels’ 349 carries by running backs last season, Hampton handled a whopping 253 of them (72.5 percent), while piling up 15 rushing touchdowns.

Barlow has played in 40 college games and rushed for 993 yards and 11 touchdowns during his career. He ran for 428 yards and four touchdowns with a 5.9-yard average per attempt in 2020 for TCU. At Southern Cal, he got lost in the shuffle. His touches dropped from 62 carries in 2021 to 16 in 2022 to eight last season. Barlow finished fourth in line in terms of running back production behind MarShawn Lloyd, Austin Jones and Quinten Joyner for USC last year, though he scored a 43-yard touchdown against Washington and averaged 10.1 yards per rush on the season.

Darwin Barlow, USC, Running Back

Barlow said last week that Minnesota, Arizona and UTSA (Texas San Antonio) were among his finalists as a transfer destination. He was all smiles when we talked to him, his upbeat personality that made him something of a fan favorite at USC shining through. Here’s more of what he said when the Tar Heels introduced their new portal class …


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