Orville graduated from Caldwell H.S. in 1945 where he was a star football and basketball player. He was named All-Conference and All-State in both sports.
Following high school, Orv served in the Navy in the South Pacific from 1945-1946. Barnes then entered the University of Idaho on a full athletic scholarship. While a Vandal, Orv was ranked 12th in the nation as a pass receiver and was eventually drafted by the Green Bay Packers.