Quarterback and true freshman Blake Barnett is caught up in one of the most intriguing quarterback battles in the country. It’s crazy to think that just eight months ago Barnett was in high school back in Corona, California. Fast forward to today and Barnett is a few good practices from being a starter.
With that being said the likelihood of Barnett winning the starting position is still very slim. Barnett is a quarterback with plenty of talent but for these few reasons I believe he will not start for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2015.
Standing 6-foot-5, Barnett certainly has the height to be a starter for the Crimson Tide, which is five inches taller than 2014 starter Blake Sims. It’s the strength and weight that will deter Barnett from starting. Weighing slightly over 200 pounds Barnett does not have the size just yet to become the starter. A.J. McCarron and Greg McElroy, the Crimson Tide’s last two national championship quarterbacks, both weighed an average of 220 pound during their time as starters. Barnett does possess more athleticism than both, so 220 may be a bit much for the California native. If Barnett can add 10 to 15 pound of muscle then he will have what he needs to take the punishment of SEC defenses. Enrolling early and getting six months with strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran has put Barnett a little ahead of the curve, however, more time will be needed to develop the needed strength to be a starter in the SEC.
Time in System
Barnett has had an entire spring and summer to grasp the Alabama offensive system. However, that still may not be enough time for the freshman. Jacob Coker is a prime example of how even though a player may have a little time in the system he still may not be able to execute that play correctly. Coker had an entire summer to learn the Alabama playbook and he still was unable to beat out Sims for the starting position. Barnett needs to know more than just run plays. He has to show that he can command the entire play and audible to a better play if necessary based on the defensive looks. The command will come for Barnett as he is a very intelligent player, but he will have to sit back and watch for the time being.
Last season it was a two man race for the starting position between Sims and Coker. This season, it has been a five man race between Coker, David Cornwell, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, and Barnett. With this much competition there will be a more limited amount of snaps available for each quarterback, which means that each will have to be productive with very limited reps. Fewer throws means that the learning curve will be cut in half and mistakes will need to be held to a minimum, and for Barnett this might be too much to ask of any freshman even a quarterback with his talent.
As noted earlier, it has been less than a year since Barnett was quarterback at Santiago High School, and in that short amount of time, the maturation process has begun, but has not been fully completed. Most quarterbacks go through growing pains, such as making mistakes and learning from them to improve their craft. Barnett is no different. He will go through this process, but for the sake of this team and the 2015 season, the Nick Saban must allow these growing pains to go on behind closed doors and away from the public eye. Having Barnett grow in practice and steadily through the season will help him become a better quarterback later in his still young Crimson Tide career.
Barnett was brought in to be a future star for Alabama, which is something that most experts, including myself believe will occur. For the current time being, Barnett needs to ensure that he works and puts himself in a better position for next season. Barnett was brought in to be a long-term starter when ready, and if you place him into a starting position too early, all of the confidence that made him one of the top recruits in the nation could be lost. Wait it out for Barnett and his time to shine, but don’t let him be a short-term solution to a long term problem.