Last time, I gave you all a poll to see which position you wanted me to cover next. Much to my pleasure, (as it is my favorite position group to analyze) the defensive line won out. However, there are a couple of targets there that I feel may commit to Alabama soon, so I decided to delay that group for a little longer.
The runner-up in the polls is the quarterback. The number one most important man on the field at any given time. That title also comes with being the most scrutinized position in the game.
At the end of 2014, redshirt senior Blake Sims will have
won the Heisman graduated after his one year of service as the Tide's starting QB. Florida State transfer, Jacob Coker, will be senior, and also the favorite to win the job. Cooper Bateman, the RS Freshman out of Utah (and my current favorite backup QB), will be the top challenger to the job. True freshman David Cornwell will also be in the mix after redshirting his first season on campus. Quarterback/punter Alec Morris will still be around too, if he has not transferred at that point.
If Coker wins the job, Alabama gets another one-year stop gap for the position. Bateman or Cornwell, on the other hand could be 2-4 year starters.
Oh, and I forgot to mention one other thing...
There is one other scenario that's just so crazy, it might actually be possible...
The sole quarterback commitment of the 2015 class. Sure, Alabama (nor most anyone else in college football) has never before started a true freshman quarterback. Sure, Nick Saban rarely trusts a player that hasn't been in the system forever. Sure, its suicide to hang your hat on some kid still in high school. Sure, I have issues talking to women. But remember when USC shocked the nation by starting true freshman Matt Barkley in 2009? Pete Carroll did that, but guess who took over the next year? Lane Kiffin. Kiffin knows the positives and drawbacks of having the same quarterback for 3-4 years better than anyone.
Again, it's not likely, and if Coker wins the job, Barnett would be in the mix the year after anyways. All this is to say, Barnett is good. Really, really good. Being the only QB in this class, I can spend the entire article on just him. Buckle up, gumps, this is gonna be a fun ride.
|Last Name||First Name||Position||State||Stars||National Rank||Position Rank||Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash||20-Yard Shuttle||Vertical Jump||Power Throw||SPARQ||Z-Score|
The 5 star quarterback from Corona, California is the number 1 rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation. At 6'5" 200, he could stand to add a few more pounds to his frame, and will be the prototypical size that is so coveted in the NFL. As a senior, he has thrown 19 touchdowns to 9 interceptions and averaging 313 yards per game. He has also added in 6 touchdowns on 46 yards per game rushing. He was a finalist for the Elite 11 QB camp, and also won MVP of Nike's "The Opening" 7-on-7 tournament this summer, to go along with who knows how many other awards.
With the success of offenses revolving around a lightning blitz of bubble screens, quick slants, and read options, it seems at times that the art of actually throwing the ball is fading. Barnett, though, has shown the arm strength, accuracy, and touch to make any throw to any place on the field.
The 20 yard out. Many NFL evaluators say that this is the throw that separates an NFL QB from a college QB. Barnett made it as a junior in high school. The ball travels 25 yards down the field, and about 25 yards across. If you add the two vectors together, that's a 35 yard strike delivered with perfect accuracy. The velocity Barnett puts on the ball at that distance is unreal. Barnett consistently shows that he can hit deep balls without rainbowing them into the air, and also shows the ability to adjust to put the appropriate amount of touch for any route in the playbook.
His footwork in the pocket is incredible, and likely his best attribute. He has an uncanny ability to evade rushers, and always steps into every throw, never throwing off his back foot. Even when scrambling, he twists his body in order to square his shoulders to throw the ball. In fact, he looks just as comfortable throwing on the run as he is standing tall in the pocket.
This one is just insane. He climbs forward into the pocket to avoid the rushers, stands tall, drifts left, squares his shoulders, then delivers an absolute missile 40 yards down the field in the opposite direction he was moving. The cool thing about physics is that his moving to the left adds a velocity vector to the ball even after it has left his hand, which means he has to put extra force into the throw back to the right to mathematically cancel that out and deliver the ball on target. That, my friends, is some kind of arm strength.
Barnett is, however, a pure shotgun passer. Learning to drop under center could be a bit of a learning curve for him. But the Tide does operate out of shotgun 50% of the time, according to SaxonRBR. He also has a bit of a long throwing motion. While it does not seem to affect his arm, it does take just a few nanoseconds longer for the ball to leave his hand than say Blake Sims.
Lastly, Barnett seems to be a one read and go kind of guy. He doesn't seem to go through multiple progressions often, choosing to start a scramble drill if his first target is covered.
For all my talk about his arm, Barnett is just as deadly with his legs. He officially ran a 4.85 forty time, but he must have been having a really bad day, because he is the fastest person on the field. His balance is tremendous, and he is just really slippery. Defenders almost never lay hands on him in the pocket, and no one can catch him in the open field.
Can you imagine watching that every Saturday in crimson jerseys? Barnett will knife through defenses like they're made of warm butter, and then turn on the jets and outrun everyone to the end zone. As a runner, he is a long-legged gazelle and a big play just waiting to happen.
Ah, that word that gets thrown around so often with quarterbacks, but no one can really explain it. I've never watched Barnett play live, so I can't necessarily speak for him there. However, he has what I like to call the "Barnett Posse." Even though he lives in California, Blake seems to have become great friends with Deionte Thompson, Shawn Burgess-Becker, and Calvin Ridley. These guys were inseparable as teammates at "The Opening" and have come together to visit Bryant-Denny for all the big home games so far this year. They, along with Mehki Brown and Ronnie Harrison, have shamelessly promoted Alabama at every possibility, and are doing their best to convince other uncommitted recruits (particularly Damien Harris, the nation's top running back) to come to Alabama, even going as far as taking visits to other schools in full Bama gear just to talk to the other recruits visiting there.
In all the interviews I have seen, Barnett seems to have an extremely likable personality, and seems like he can be the guy that can rally an entire team to come together in support of their quarterback.
With his elongated throwing motion, charming personality, and being a mobile, white quarterback, Barnett will likely be compared tothroughout his entire career. The throwing motion is similar, but the rest of his game does not look like Tebow. I have also heard quite a few comparisons to Oregon's Marcus Mariota. I, however, find myself reminded of 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick. The deceptively fast long stride, powerful arm, and decisions from in the pocket are very similar
Blake Barnett will very likely be the quarterback of the future for the Crimson Tide, the big question is just how soon will he take the starting job. With the relationships he's already building with his 2015 classmates (especially the phenomenal receiver, Calvin Ridley), Barnett and Co. may just be the core of this Alabama team for years to come.