Notre Dame football recruiting: QB Barnett surprised by Irish offer

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Blake Barnett traveled to Notre Dame last weekend just hoping to get to know the Irish coaching staff and introduce himself in person as a player interested in the program.

As far as the junior quarterback knew, Notre Dame’s staff was still in the middle of evaluating him as a prospect. But when he and his parents were called into head coach Brian Kelly’s office on Saturday, Barnett found out the Irish were much more interested than he realized.

“He said that he's watched my film, really likes the way that I play and he said ‘I'm going to go ahead and offer you,’” Barnett said of his conversation with Kelly.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

With the Irish becoming the third program to offer Barnett, joining UCLA and Arizona, he might want to get used to the offering process. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound quarterback has turned a stellar start to his junior season at Corona (Calif.) Santiago High into FBS scholarship options.

In six games, Barnett has completed 118 of his 203 passes for 1,578 yards and 16 touchdowns. Proving to be a dual-threat quarterback with 4.7-speed in the 40-yard dash, Barnett has also rushed 51 times for 620 yards and 11 touchdowns.

By the end of September, Barnett already had enough highlights as a junior to fill a seven-minute video on YouTube. The video shows Barnett delivering strikes through the air and running past defenders for long touchdowns. It’s not hard to see why Kelly mentioned Barnett’s film before offering him.

Barnett’s no stranger to impressing via YouTube. In August, Barnett released on the website footage of him working through quarterback drills and highlights from his sophomore year. Soon after, Barnett’s stepfather told him he would buy him a new car if the video hit 10,000 views by Christmas.

Barnett took to Twitter to spread the word and quickly surpassed the total. The video now has nearly 50,000 views and Barnett’s still waiting to see if he’ll get that car.

“He did say ‘before Christmas’ though, so we shall see,” Barnett said.

The fortune of the recruiting process has Barnett busy enough to not worry about a new car. Before heading back to California this weekend, he stopped by Northwestern. Earlier in the month he made a weekend trip to Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Barnett said the visit to Notre Dame, complete with a tour of the facilities and taking part in the Irish Walk with the team into the stadium, was particularly impressive.

“I thought it was a great overall visit,” Barnett said. “It was extremely humbling getting offered.”

The recruiting attention has ramped up in the last month – Oregon, Oklahoma State and Michigan are also showing interest – but the Irish have cemented themselves as an early contender.

“I'm starting to gain a relationship with all the coaches,” Barnett said. “I've been talking to them over Twitter for a couple weeks now. It was nice to get to meet all of them in person and sit down and talk with them to get to know them on a personal level."

Safety Hendrix enjoys official visit

Senior safety prospect Payton Hendrix used his first official visit on a trip to Notre Dame this past weekend and left impressed.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound recruit from Bishop Dunne in Dallas made the trip with teammate Nick Watkins, a cornerback prospect also using his official visit.

Watkins, who had previously visited Notre Dame’s campus in the spring, prepared Hendrix for what to expect from the school that’s emerged as one of the favorites for both players.

“It met my expectations,” Hendrix said. “The game was the highlight of the trip. The atmosphere there was great and the fan support was great.”

Hendrix, a three-star prospect, said he doesn’t plan to make any visits elsewhere until after his season. Arkansas, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and Tulsa have also emerged as contenders with Notre Dame for Hendrix’s services.

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly earned $1.46 million in pay from the university in 2012. (SBT file photo/James Brosher)