By: Will Burchfield
With a dearth of quality options at quarterback, Michigan State is reportedly eyeing a solution via the transfer market.
According to 247sports, former Alabama QB Blake Barnett has drawn interest from the Spartans, who could add him to their roster for the 2017 season.
Barnett was a five-star recruit in the class of 2015 out of Santiago High School in Corona, Calif. ESPN.com ranked him as the best quarterback in his class and the second best player in his region. The pro-style passer chose Alabama over Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon (among others), before red-shirting in his first season with the Crimson Tide.
Barnett was Alabama’s starting quarterback at the start of the 2016 season, but quickly lost the job to freshman Jalen Hurts. He has since enrolled at Palomar Junior College in California, protecting his FBS eligibility for most of the 2017 season.
“According to bylaw 14.5.6 in the NCAA transfer guide, Barnett as a 4-2-4 transfer (four-year institution, to a junior college, and back to a four-year institution), can be eligible one calendar year from the date of his transfer (either Sept. 28 or 29, depending on when the paperwork was filed) as long as he graduates with a GPA above 2.5 over an average of 12 hours per term at Palomar.”
Theoretically, Barnett could suit up for any NCAA team of his choosing as early as Sept. 30, 2017. Whether that will be Michigan State is much less clear.
247sports reports that Barnett is also drawing interest from Oregon, UCLA, Washington, California, Miami and Florida. Texas A&M has already contacted him directly.
The Spartans have stumbled to a 2-3 start this season, due in part to the struggles of fifth-year senior QB Tyler O’Connor. He was replaced by junior Damion Terry in Saturday’s loss to BYU.
Along with Terry, Michigan State will bring back three quarterbacks next year: freshman Messiah deWeaver, redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke and sophomore Colar Kuhns. The Spartans also signed four-star QB Rocky Lombardi in this year’s recruiting class.
Should Barnett join the fray, his strong arm would figure to thrust him into the conversation for the starting job.
Barnett’s high school coach Jeff Steinberg told 247sports the quarterback could make up his mind in the near future.
“I could see him narrowing it down fairly quickly and trying to make a decision by Christmas time,” Steinberg said.