Arizona State quarterback Blake Barnett is hoping for a fresh start in Tempe. The former elite recruit got his chance to lead the Crimson Tide to open the 2016 season as the team’s starting quarterback but failed to impress, eventually losing his starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts. The move turned out well for Alabama, as Hurts won SEC Offensive Player of the Year and took the team to the brink of an undefeated national title season.
Of course, Barnett wasn’t a part of the journey for long. After making appearances in three of the first four games of the season, Barnett left the Alabama program mid-season and enrolled in junior college. The odd move paid off for him, as he was recently granted eligibility for the 2017 season with Arizona State.
Ironically enough, Barnett will be coached by former Alabama assistant Billy Napier, as Napier is the new offensive coordinator for the Sun Devils. Barnett’s familiarity with Napier should help him land the starting job next season, but it won’t just his Arizona State coaches he’s out to prove something to, Barnett will be out to prove one of his former coaches that he has the nerves to play major college football.
According to ESPN’s Ted Miller, Nick Saban told sideline reporter Sam Ponder that Barnett was nervous heading into his first college game against USC in the season opener. While Barnett did not mention Saban by name, he seemed to take exception to that statement in a recent ESPN post by Miller.
“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”
If Barnett wins the starting job in Tempe, he’ll have his chance to prove he has what it takes to play college football at the game’s highest level, but it’s interesting that the word ‘competition’ is listed seven times in Miller’s post. In a recent video post by AZ Central, Barnett himself talks about competing when discussing both Arizona State and the competitive nature he experienced while a member of Alabama’s program.
“I want to compete, I’m a competitor, and I want to make an impact on this team,” Barnett said in the video. “At the end of the day, I am a competitor… I came from a university where competing is huge.”
It’s interesting that someone that left so soon after facing some adversity, due to competition from another player, is so openly talking about competition. How will Barnett react if he doesn’t win the starting job, or if he struggles initially in Tempe? Only time will tell, but it should be interesting to see what he can accomplish competing for Arizona State.