Profile: Blake Barnett
Location: Corona (Calif.) Santiago
Weight: 195 pounds
Recruiting: It’s still early for Barnett, being just a junior, but the moment Notre Dame offered, the Irish immediately zoomed to the top of his list. He took an unofficial visit earlier in the season and that’s really all she wrote. The signal caller returned for another visit this past weekend but had already decided to commit at least a week earlier. UCLA was the local favorite but there really wasn’t anyone pushing the Irish in this one.
What to Like: Barnett has a great frame and is very athletic. Physically, he looks like a young Marcus Mariota and even has similar mechanics at the same stage as well. He has a very live arm and can make every throw on the field. He throws the deep ball with touch and spins the football very consistently. When he gets outside the pocket and runs, Barnett has the speed to run away from not just linebackers but defensive backs as well. He’s a very tough kid who doesn’t shy away from contact and is very coachable. He’s a natural leader and has all the intangibles you could want in a next level quarerback.
Areas for improvement: This is Barnett’s first year playing quarterback so he’s still working out some mechanical kinks. He has a long release and it affects his accuracy at times when he’s not able to duplicate his release point. Barnett also has a tendency to take off and run a little too early, rather than moving out of the pocket but still looking down the field to make a play. As he gets more game reps and becomes more comfortable, he’ll develop a better pocket presence and he has already made big strides in this area from the beginning of the season.
Overall Analysis: This is a great early pickup for the Irish as he was the quarterback on their board and few signal callers in the 2015 national class have more upside. He’s only scratching the surface of how good he can be and his ceiling is off the charts. He has all of the physical tools you could want and when he learns the position and the game begins to slow down for him, he has a chance to be very special. He just started working with quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, one of the best QB teachers around and it will be very interesting to see how much Barnett develops in the off-season heading in to his senior year.