Top Notre Dame QB recruit Blake Barnett decommits
On Tuesday, the smoke came in the form of news that Notre Dame quarterback commit Blake Barnett was visiting Oregon.
A day later, the fire arrived with Barnett's decommitment from the Irish.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Barnett posted a message on his Twitter account Wednesday night that he was backing out of the verbal commitment he made to ND in late November.
"I am officially de-committing from the University of Notre Dame and opening up my recruitment," Barnett, a four-star prospect, wrote. "I want to thank the University and the coaching staff for allowing me the opportunity to attend such a prestigious university."
Barnett, who plays at Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., did not immediately respond to a text message seeking further comment, although he told 247Sports that he is not committed to Oregon or anywhere else and that he's decided to explore his options.
Barnett told Irish Illustrated that he is no longer considering Notre Dame, and that a planned visit to ND later this month will not happen.
Barnett's decommitment suddenly puts ND behind in its quest of adding a quarterback in the 2015 class, although all three scholarship QBs on the 2014 depth chart could return the following year. Starter Everett Golson will be a senior in the fall but retains the option of a fifth year in 2015. Sophomore Malik Zaire, who is pushing Golson for the starting job, did not play last year and has four years of eligibility remaining beginning this season. Freshman DeShone Kizer begins summer school later this month.
The next in line was expected to be Barnett, a good athlete who has a skill set comparable to the three current Irish, an ideal situation in terms of continuity for Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Barnett is considered one of the top five dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2015 class.
Now, Kelly and his staff are back to chasing other options.
One prime choice who recently landed elsewhere was Texas standout Kyler Murray, who last week committed to Texas A&M. In fact, CBS Sports Network analyst Tom Lemming believes that Murray's commitment to the Aggies could have affected Barnett's situation with ND. Murray, according to Lemming, was high on Oregon's wish list.
"I think (Barnett) is mesmerized by Oregon," Lemming said. "Oregon didn't make a major push on him until after losing Murray."
And now Notre Dame begins the push for others.
Two uncommitted players that Lemming identified are Calfornians Travis Waller of Anaheim Servite and Sheriron Jones of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde.
"Both have grades. Both are athletes," Lemming said.
The quest, however, likely won't end with uncommitted prospects.
"Go after other people's guys," Lemming said. "I think that's the smart thing to do."
Golson just a few years ago was an early North Carolina commit before flipping late in the process, and there are a number of committed QBs that Lemming identified as fits. Among them:
•Brandon Wimbush of St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey. Wimbush is committed to Penn State.
•Brady White of Newhall, Calif. White is committed to Arizona State.
•Lorenzo Nunez of Georgia, who has pledged South Carolina.
Two other intriguing options are Texans Chad President and Blake Lynch, both of whom are committed to Baylor. President is listed as a quarterback on Rivals.com's Baylor commit list while Lynch, a high school QB, is listed as an athlete who projects as a wide receiver or defensive back with the Bears.
"They're both outstanding quarterbacks who could fit in perfectly at Notre Dame," Lemming said.
Barnett's decommitment comes less than a week after the Irish flipped standout linebacker Josh Barajas of Andrean High School in Merrillville from Penn State. Notre Dame currently holds eight verbal commitments in the 2015 class.
BWieneke@SBTinfo.com ¦ 574-235-6428 ¦ Twitter: @BobWienekeNDI