Notre Dame football recruiting: Big-time QB selects Irish

South Bend Tribune

The question was rather straight-forward in nature, a simple, “What kind of player is Notre Dame getting in quarterback Blake Barnett,” who committed to the Irish on Sunday.

The response, courtesy of quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, who trains Barnett, will delight Notre Dame fans.

“They’re getting a kid that I think will be a very productive player on Sunday,” Clarkson said.

To get to Sunday, i.e. the NFL, players typically have to be really, really good on Saturday, which makes Barnett’s commitment, and Clarkson’s opinion, a big deal.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Barnett, a junior at Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., became the second player to commit to ND’s recruiting class of 2015, joining offensive lineman Jerry Tillery of Shreveport, La.

CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming gives Barnett four-plus stars on his five-star scale, but said Barnett is close to earning that fifth star.

“This is a quarterback who I think will go a long way at Notre Dame,” Lemming said. “He’s got the ability to get Notre Dame to that next level.”

Clarkson, who has been working with quarterbacks since 1986, and whose client list includes Jimmy Clausen, Ben Roethlisberger, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor, among many others, began working with Barnett about three months ago. As good as Barnett is now, Clarkson sees much bigger things on the horizon.

“I think he’s just scratching the surface, and that’s the scary part,” said Clarkson, who will be featured next Sunday on 60 Minutes. “It’s really scary.”

Clarkson offered that Barnett can fit in a variety of offenses, including a pro-style set as well as a spread.

“He’s got all the elements you look for in a modern-day quarterback,” Clarkson said, “but he’s got that canon for an arm, he’s got great anticipation, he’s very adept at picking up line play and getting his team out of bad situations. His anticipation is off the charts. He is a kid that comes around once every 20 years with that skill set. He’s got a huge, huge ceiling.”

And apparently a huge liking, or at the very least tolerance, for cold weather. Barnett sat through ND’s 23-13 victory over BYU on Saturday at frigid Notre Dame Stadium. By mid-afternoon Sunday, he was Irish, announcing his commitment via Twitter, complete with a photo of him and a smiling Irish coach Brian Kelly, who cannot comment on Barnett until signing day 2015.

“It felt right. I feel like I’m home here,” Barnett said Sunday night. “It’s the place for me.”

Lemming, asked to name a comparable quarterback, initially likened Barnett to former ND and NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein, except faster. He then said Barnett reminds him of current Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, who the Irish will face Saturday night. Lemming said the two have similar builds and that Barnett may run a little better than Hogan.

“They look similar,” Lemming said.

Barnett, according to, also had offers from Cal, Arizona, Ole Miss, UCLA and West Virginia, among others.

“The thing that he has that most high school kids don’t have is that complete package. He’s got the big arm, he’s got escapability, he’s lightning fast. You guys don’t realize how fast this kid is,” Clarkson said.

“But if you pop on his video highlight and you watch him turn the corner against some of southern California’s fastest kids, it’s frightening.”