Tavaris Barnes is proof you don't necessarily need to be a college standout to get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Heck, Barnes is proof you don't even need to start in college to receive an invitation.
Barnes (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) started four games at defensive end for Clemson in his college career. Not four this season -- four in his career. Then again, he wasn't exactly playing behind slouches: Barnes is one of three Clemson defensive ends who have been invited to the combine, and the others are Vic Beasley (seen as a possible first-rounder, though he likely will move to outside linebacker) and Corey Crawford (a potential late-round pick).
In addition, Barnes is one of six Tigers defenders headed to the combine; Clemson had the most defensive players invited. Louisville was second with five.
When Barnes did play, he was productive, finishing his career with 64 tackles, five sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, 14 quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, one caused fumble and two recovered fumbles, including one for a touchdown.
Here are five other little-known prospects worth getting to know:
Navy LS Joe Cardona: Cardona (6-3, 236) is the only long snapper invited to the combine, and he also was a participant in the Senior Bowl. Cardona was a long snapper in high school in the Los Angeles area and served as the Midshipmen's long snapper all four seasons he was on campus. While Cardona generally is considered the nation's best long snapper, there have been just three long snappers selected in NFL draft history (we're not counting players who became long snappers, just players actually drafted as long snappers who didn't play another position).
Central Michigan WR Titus Davis:Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown, who is one of the NFL's best receivers, is a Central Michigan alum. But it's Davis who holds most of the important school receiving records. He is CMU's career leader in receiving yards with 3,705 yards. He also has a school-record 37 TD receptions -- 13 more than Brown, who was a CMU standout from 2007-09 and does hold the school record for receptions. Davis also is the only player in FBS history with at least eight TD receptions in each of his four seasons. Davis (6-2, 190) looks to be a third-day pick (Rounds 4-7), but he could create more interest with a good 40 time.
Coastal Carolina OT Chad Hamilton: Hamilton (6-3, 305) was a three-year starter at left tackle for the Chanticleers after beginning his career at guard. He was a second-team selection on The Associated Press' FCS All-American team, and he is one of just two FCS offensive linemen to receive a combine invite this year (Tennessee State G Robert Myers is the other). Hamilton's best fit in the NFL would seem to be at guard. He is trying to become the sixth Coastal Carolina alum drafted; there were two last season (RB Lorenzo Taliaferro and WR Matt Hazel). In all, 27 FCS players were invited to the combine this year. A year ago, 22 FCS players were invited to the combine and 19 FCS players were drafted.
Florida DT Leon Orr: Orr (6-5, 305) was a full-time starter for the Gators as a junior and a part-time starter as a senior -- well, a part-time starter until he quit, anyway. Orr is a good athlete for his size -- he also played tight end in high school -- who never was all that consistent. His college career ended in ignominy when he left the team on the morning of the Nov. 8 game against Vanderbilt because he was not going to start. Orr has the physical attributes to play at the next level, and he should test well at the combine. It's the intangibles that are the question, and the interview process is going to be big for Orr.
Lafayette RB Ross Scheuerman: His last name is pronounced "Sherman." He started from the minute he walked on campus and was a four-time All-Patriot League performer. Scheuerman (6-1, 205) finished his career with 3,504 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns and 129 career receptions for 1,129 yards and another eight TDs. His final college game was an epic performance: He ran for a school-record 304 yards and three TDs in a win over Lehigh at Yankee Stadium. Considering Lafayette has played football since 1882, setting a school record of any kind is impressive.