Sit down. Pay attention. Just learn. These are statements received by most true freshmen entering a college football program. Alabama is one of few teams that isn’t set on a quarterback yet.
Senior Jake Coker and redshirt freshman David Cornwell are battling for position, but true freshman Blake Barnett isn’t sitting down. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Barnett has been working with quarterback guru George Whitefield this summer on timing, accuracy and anticipation.
Whitfield runs a quarterback camp in San Diego, Calif., and has built up a clientele of success signal callers, including Ben Roethisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.
He’s worked with current NFL quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston, and now looks to mentor Alabama’s Blake Barnett.
Barnett, who is a native of Corona, Calif., was a consensus five-star prospect upon enrolling at Alabama in January of 2015. He is the highest-rated quarterback that Alabama has signed, and was listed as the No.1-ranked pocket passer by ESPN.
Barnett participated in the 2014 Elite 11 competition and Nike’s “The Opening.” He was recognized as the most valuable player in the Elite 11.
Barnett was electrifying at Santiago High School, totaling 3,404 passing yards with 23 touchdowns in 2014. Rivals.com ranked him as the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback out of high school. Barnett rushed for 1,241 yards with 21 touchdowns in three seasons at Santiago.
Barnett showed flashes this spring of how good he can be. He threw two interceptions in Alabama’s spring game, but responded well at the end with a touchdown pass to ArDarius Stewart. Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban did mention during spring practice that he isn’t against having a true freshman start at quarterback. Barnett is currently taking summer classes, and looks to continue absorbing Lane Kiffin’s offensive system.
Seven to eight weeks separate us from the return of college football, but Alabama’s quarterback battle will keep the fans occupied.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.