George Whitfield has made the most of a niche profession.
Football’s most well-known quarterbacks coach who has worked with some of the NFL’s best including Cam Newton and Tom Brady provided raves reviews this week of a newcomer in the SEC who hasn’t yet taken a collegiate snap.
Whitfield, who also works with ESPN as an analyst, recently told Alabama radio station 99.1 The Game that Crimson Tide true freshman Blake Barnett is the best 18-year-old passer he’s ever seen, high praise considering Whitfield’s been around several greats as an Elite 11 camp instructor.
“I understand what I’m about to say is going to pop some eyes open in the barber shop, but Blake is, by far, the best 18-year-old quarterback that I’ve ever been around … and I’ve got to put that into that context because it’s really where you are at certain stages,” Whitfield said. “I didn’t know Andrew (Luck) at 18. I didn’t know some of the rest of those kids, but he’s further along than some of the prospects we’ve worked with when they came out of college, just physically and skill set-wise and things of that sort.”
Whitfield went on to break down Barnett’s game and didn’t label the quarterback as a scheme-specific player. With his vast skill set, says Whitfield, the five-star from California could fit into several offenses.
“One, he’s so well-rounded. I think he’s going to be successful there in that system with coach (Lane) Kiffin,” Whitfield continued. “He would have been very successful up there with coach (Mark) Helfrich in Oregon. He could be extremely successful in coach (David) Shaw’s system at Stanford. Those are three different vehicles, now, to go and try to fly, and very few guys could kind of pick it up, take their skill set, sit down in the cockpit and fly all three different aircraft. This kid can do it.”
Barnett is vying for the starting job during camp with Jake Coker and David Cornwell and in a competition many have deemed a two-horse race. The original plan (and still on the table) was to redshirt Barnett, but he has quickly adapted to the speed of the college game and knows Alabama’s playbook.
Saban has repeatedly asked one of his three competitors to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and win the job.
Alabama has two weeks until game week to find a starter.
My summary after interviewing George Whitfield; this will be the last year Alabama has to worry about the QB issue for a few years
— The Game (@TheGameWDGM) August 15, 2015