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Four-star quarterback Blake Barnett of Corona, CA commits to the Tide

1866075_SP_0508_Blake_Barnett_IKOn Wednesday head football Coach Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin received a very large commitment for the Crimson Tide.  It’s not the atypical “large” type of defensive lineman or linebacker or even offensive lineman that Saban normally gets during the off-season.  This time it happens to be one of the highest-rated quarterback that Saban has brought to the Capstone.  The Corona, Calif., QB Blake Barnett informed Alabama that he would be playing for the Crimson Tide in 2015.  The 6-foot-4, 195-pound prospect is not the typical style of quarterback that Saban recruits for his system however Barnett is not just a spread-style offensive guy either.  He keeps plays alive and makes plays.

Barnett heads into his senior year for the Santiago High Sharks wanting to “get the decision out of the way” for the upcoming season according to his high school coach Jeff Steinberg.  The four-star quarterback had previously committed to Notre Dame but de-committed in late May and followed that with an official visit to Oregon.  Many thought the spread-style athlete would stay on the west coast but only a few weeks later Barnett took an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa and “absolutely fell in love with the coaches, with the school itself,” Barnett said.

One aspect that significantly contributed to the decision by Barnett was his relationship with new OC and former USC head coach Lane Kiffin stating it weighed in “quite a bit”. Kiffin has a reputation for developing young quarterbacks and having a good offensive scheme that features their talents.  Barnett saw that while Kiffin was at USC and they developed a relationship there. “[Kiffin] definitely developed great quarterbacks coming from USC and I think it can put me at an advantage being with a good coach like that and running a good offense and good scheme.”

With Alabama expecting to continue with the pro-style offense many wonder why go after (and ultimately win) one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks. The “answer” as Saban puts it in countless interviews is that he wants his signal caller to; make good decisions, make plays and get the ball into the right hands. “I think if you have a guy like that, it does create a lot of problems for the defense” Saban said.  Barnett, ranked 4th in the country as a dual-threat QB does just that, and here’s the proof – even by running the spread, as he passed for 2,332 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 695 yards with 13 touchdowns as a junior.  He’s expected to have a very similar year this season.

With Jacob Coker coming in with two years of eligibility remaining competing for the starting job against Sims this season, and with Bateman, Cornwell and Morris gaining another year of experience Barnett will have his work cut out for him next year.  In case you missed it, Parker McLeod transferred in late May. So out of the five remaining scholarship quarterbacks Alabama is guaranteed to only lose one for the 2015 season but could lose another for various reasons of course.  Regardless, good competition, new style of offense and a much bigger stage Barnett will need all of the developmental help he can get from Kiffin.

That’s not to say that he won’t see early playing time however.  Barnett’s ability to make things happen sets him apart from the other more traditional pocket passers that Alabama currently has on scholarship. Sims is the most mobile and was recruited as a “dual-threat” quarterback but until this spring he hasn’t played a starting role. Barnett seems to be a better passer but his scrambling ability resembles that of a 5 inch taller Johnny Manziel.  He has quick feet, strong arm and is fast in open spaces.  His speed is very deceptive but he seems to pull away from defenders in the secondary, just like that of the former Arkansas QB Matt Jones.

“I think Alabama is the place for me and is the place that will build me as a person as well as an athlete and I think will develop me the best. Barnett said.

Alabama now has 19 commitments for 2015, and is currently ranked as the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class – again.  The Crimson Tide has had the top class for the past three years.

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