• Brighton senior Dima Barker signs a football scholarship with Rhodes College. Also pictured are, from left, Donald Barker, father; Dominic Barker, brother; Tatiana Barker, mother; and D.J. Barker, brother. Photo by Jeff Ireland

Brighton senior defensive lineman Dima Barker has a name you don’t hear everyday around here.

It’s a Russian name and an ode to his mom, Tatiana Barker, who was born in Russia and moved to the United States in her 20s.

“It’s a very common name in Russia,” Barker said.

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There’s nothing common, however, about Dima as a football player and high school student.

In front of family and friends Thursday afternoon Barker signed a football scholarship with Rhodes College, one of the most prestigious academic schools in the country.

“He’s a great kid,” said Brighton coach Mike David. “He’ll do anything you ask of him. We’re really happy for him. It’s a big honor.”

Dima will join his brother, D.J. Barker, who graduated from Brighton in 2018, on the Rhodes football team.

“I think they liked what they saw in him and took a chance on me,” Dima said.

The Rhodes coaching staff also liked what they saw of Dima on the football field last fall. The 6-0, 220-pound end was a big part of the Cardinal defense that helped Brighton make it to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2017.

“He brought 100 percent effort every practice and every game,” David said. “He was just unbelievable and that’s what you need on the D line. He’s relentless. Our front seven did a great job this season and he was definitely one of the reasons why.”

Barker thanked several people during the signing ceremony, including defensive coordinator Troy Brewer.

He should improve as a football player once he gets to the next level, but Barker said his focus will be academics. He plans to go to law school after Rhodes.

“Academics was a major factor for me,” Barker said. “After college football I’m not going to the NFL or anything. I’m just doing it for fun and it’s my passion.”