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Barnett sets prospect bar with Elite 11 invite

Jan 7, 2014, 8:36 PM EDT

Notre Dame’s 2015  recruit Blake Barnett was the first quarterback selected to the Elite 11 camp, the premiere offseason camp in the country.

Barnett, who committed to the Irish this fall and will join a depth chart that should include a fifth-year Everett Golson, a junior year Malik Zaire, and sophomore Deshone Kizer. The Orange County native punched his ticket at the first Elite 11 regional camp in Santa Monica, an event that featured five-star Alabama commit Ricky Town and Josh Rosen, the No. 1 ranked QB in the 2015 class. (Rosen didn’t compete due to injury.)

Barnett caught up with Irish Illustrated ($) to talk about the camp and what the invitation means to him.

“I’m very excited,” Barnett told Irish Illustrated. “I know I’ll get to compete with all the good quarterbacks. That’s mostly what I’m excited about because I know the top level of athletes, not just quarterbacks but receivers and (defensive backs), will be out there and I’ll get to compete with them.”

Barnett is an early Top 100 recruit in the 2015 class, a group that’s still in the middle of the evaluation process. But after seeing recent Irish commits Barnett, Zaire, and Gunner Kiel at recent Elite 11 camps, I caught up with instructor Elite 11 instructor Yogi Roth to discuss Notre Dame’s most recent quarterback commitment.

Roth played college football at Pitt, was the quarterback coach at USC under Pete Carroll, and has worked Elite 11 the past few years in between calling football games for the Pac-12 Network. He was really impressed with the athleticism Barnett brings to the table, and has a great frame of reference after seeing just about every elite QB in the country the past few years.

“He’s totally different than past Notre Dame Elite 11 QBs,” Roth told me. “A combination of the size and arm of Gunner and the athletic blend of Malik.”

That type of quote is one that should raise some eyebrows, with Irish fans likely salivating at that skill set. While far from a finished product, Roth called Barnett the perfect blend of a new-age QB, who played the game at a different speed than the other quarterbacks they’ve seen in this class.

That Barnett was the first quarterback to punch his Elite 11 ticket certainly means something to Roth and the staff.

“This is a huge invite. He will set the tempo for the rest of the evaluation, as well as have a giant bullseye on his back when we arrive on the Nike campus for finals,” Roth said.

There’s work to do for Barnett in these offseason months. Roth said Barnett didn’t necessarily throw the ball exceptionally, and the “lonely work” that he puts in this offseason will determine the type of player he can become. But if he can polish his work as a passer and understand the science of quarterbacking and what defenses are trying to achieve, he’s got the opportunity to be a great one.

“I’d expect their staff to be salivating over the opportunity to develop him and get him to play where he can maximize his potential,” Roth said.  

  1. mtflsmitty - Jan 7, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I’d much rather have an Elite11 invitee for a 2015 QB recruit, than a recruit that’s not invited. I also gather the quality of the instruction these kids receive is tops; so that’s good too. But there it’s a long road from 1-7-14 and when this young buck will have a realistic chance of getting on the field. In the meantime, I hope he keeps making good decisions and makes the most of his opportunity.

  2. irishpuma - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Sweet!!!!!! Can’t wait to get him under the dome!

  3. 25kgold - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    ND finished the season ranked #20 in the final AP poll

  4. fnc111 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Not a bad ranking for a team with no QB talent. I’ll take it.

    • danirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      Wow! Another Elite 11 recruit! Another one! Not bad Coach Kelly! Considering you can’t recruit qb’s worth a crap in your four years! Right fnc?

  5. onward2victory - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    Out of Zaire, Kizer, and Barnett, who do you guys think will make the most starts at ND?

    • domerboyirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      As my kids like to say; “Really?!” Haven’t we learned anything over the past year? For all we know, Zaire will get suspended, Kizer will have a change or heart and sign elsewhere and Barnett will be the de facto starter the moment he steps on campus. Heck, two guys aren’t even officially signed and ready to enroll. Trying to guess at who might get more starts is a collossal waste of time.

      • 1historian - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Agree up to the last sentence.

        It’s 28 days until signing day. What else do you suggest we do?

      • domerboyirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Anything else! I’d love to know why we haven’t locked in on our coordinators this close to signing day. Let’s talk about that! It’s current. It’s critical. I’m sure the recruits would like to know.

        How about talking about some of our remaining targets for this class OR how many slots are potentially available? A few people have asked this question. Who are potential fifth year players that can will work towards our 85?

        Let’s talk about something meaningful before Bob and Paul start their stupidity…

      • papadec - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        domer – so was reading your post.

      • domerboyirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Papa, I’m confused by your comment. It’s probably me. I’m not too bright. Please clarify.

  6. getsome99 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    Kizer, Barnett. I don’t see Zaire as a starter. Maybe a change of pace wildcat option in a series rotation with Golson, but ideally, it would be Golson for one, maybe 2 seasons and then Kizer for the next 2 and Barnett the next 2.

    • mtflsmitty - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Getsome, As I’m posting on my phone, I inadvertently gave you a thumbs up on this comment. If the system would have allowed me to simply give a thumbs down to balance things out I would have accepted that. But it won’t. Please accept this note as my formally rescinding the thumbs up and giving you a big ol’ double thumbs down.

      Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

      • getsome99 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:25 PM


  7. rossumnminor - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    Just watched his 10 minute junior highlight tape. Kid is a frickin stud. Unreal. I’m sure his release will get tweaked and become a bit more fluid. Looks like such a great athlete running with the ball as well.

  8. mbannon92 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I just watched his junior year highlight tape. I don’t know if I’d call him a great runner–he never really had to make any moves–but the kid is fast. Outran the entire defense on a regular basis. And while his release is a little wonky, he’s got a huge arm and can throw well on the move. Looking forward to seeing how he’ll develop.

  9. danirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Call me crazy but I only get excited lately when we recruit a stud at O-Line, D-Line or linebacker. I mean of course it is great to get talent everywhere but IMHO, I feel better about ND when we get the “Big Eaters”

    Good luck to this kid. It means nothing until signing day, I keep telling my SEC obsessed friends that verbals mean diddly.

    Heck, after Vanderdoes poor, poor grandma’s sickness not even a signature means much.

  10. danirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Y’all see where Aaron Lynch declared for the NFL?

    • 1historian - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      I saw that. The kid has lost 25 lbs. since he left ND. Best of luck to him but I don’t think he’ll go very high, he might even be a FA.

    • domerboyirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      I didn’t realize that he was still playing football. I thought his wife wouldn’t allow it.

  11. ndnapa - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    This kid is the real deal. Mariotta-2. As mentioned, he needs a little work on his throwing motion, as he tends to shot put it at times, but that will be easily corrected. Excellent instincts and competitiveness. He’s who Kelly has been looking for. 3-year starter, at least. Love this kid.

  12. toconnell14 - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I don’t get all the hate for Zaire. I understand that Barnett should be a stud, but Zaire came in rated higher than Golson by everyone, he enrolled early like Golson but he never spent time on the scout team. He has supposedly picked up the playbook with incredible speed, and he seems to be a physical clone of Golson with an extra inch and 10 pounds.
    From that bit, I wouldn’t be all too shocked if he beats out Golson. Golson was good, not great. He prevented turnovers and he offered a running threat. That’s why he is better than Tommy, but that also doesn’t make him better than Zaire. I like Golson a lot, but he wasn’t a dominant QB like people make him out to be, he just opened up the run game, lowered turnovers and the defense took it from there. I think Zaire has a shot to be a better thrower and could beat Golson out come this spring

    • danirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      Golson has always been measured by potential and compared to Rees he is EXCITING! I don’t know about Zaire beating him out anytime soon but I do think you will see a lot of split time. In the next two years, unless Zaire is a bust, we will see a lot of both of them – which is good. Kizer and Barnett def. red shirt.

      Also, hasn’t Zaire gotten into “some trouble” over tweets?

    • mediocrebob - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      The guy was a RS Freshman. He had his ups and downs. When you’re a RS Frosh QB and you go to NCG , people are going to judge him on the positives he had during that season and assume he’s progressing.

      That being said, I don’t understand how anyone can place any judgement on Zaire considering nobody has seen him play since he was in high school but his teammates and coaching staff. Maybe he does beat EG out, but I’m not counting on it.

    • irishpuma - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:07 AM

      Whoa easy does it son. There is no bigger Zaire fan in here than me. Granted by necessity because I knew what Tommy would do to the program but a big Zaire fan none the less. First off Golson wieghs more than Zaire now just to get correct. Second no way Zaire beats Golson this spring no way barring injury or He gives Golson Mono. Zaire could not beat Tommy Rees in Kelly’s opinion and with no playing time how is he going to beat out a 12-1 QB??

      The following year maybe you never know. Golson can throw, did you watch the Alabama game, he can run, he can lead, he can win and he should markedly more developed and skilled since last we saw him. And FYI the era of the dominant QB to win is over. Mccarron, Auburn QB, Stanford etc, you don’t have to be dominant to win and he has already proved he can win. Sure Jaemis would be nice but maybe that will be Zaire for his 3rd and 4th years.

      Assuming Golson is back we are set up OK for the next 6 years assuming Kelly can keep guys in house. 2yrs Golson, 2years Zaire, Kizer Barnett………who knows.

      • 1historian - Jan 9, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        “FYI the era of the dominant QB to win is over.” Kinda gotta disagree with you on that one.
        “Jameis would be nice”
        He wins the Heisman as a freshman and leads FSU on a game winning drive with the season on the line.

        IMO as long as there are QBs who lead their teams to a win in the last 2 minutes with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance the era of the dominant QB will live on.

        One other thing – When Golson started in 2012 he had had 18 months to learn the playbook. How complicated can it be? If it is THAT complicated – why not simplify it? I also recall reading a few times that Kelly was thrilled that Zaire was learning the playbook so fast.

        A lot of folks here seem to assuming that Golson is automatically the starter next year. I’m not one of them.

      • mediocrebob - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM


        You believe the coach’s speak if you aren’t counting on Golson as starter. The only reason they haven’t named him starter already is…well they can’t. He was just kicked off the team and let back in school. How would that look handing him the team already?

        I will promise you this. Golson will most likely give this team the best chance to win based on talent, experience, knowledge and leadership. Say what you want about his issue, but he’s a gamer and playmaker and that goes a lot farther on the field with his teammates than anything. If Zaire was good enough to beat Golson out, he would’ve been playing last season. Nobody’s seen MZ play yet, but I have difficulty seeing him unseat EG.

      • toconnell14 - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        “First off Golson wieghs more than Zaire now just to get correct” According to the source, Golson has reached 204 or so… according to Notre Dame’s roster, Zaire is 208. While that may be higher than reality, you assume Zaire hasn’t gained weight nor will he gain weight before the spring. Golson was absolutely terrible as a true Frosh in terms of practice, he really struggled with the playbook, and if you recall, Tommy was given the job before Zaire entered fall camp. You failed to support your claim that Zaire will not beat out Golson barring sickness.

        Yes Golson can throw and he can run…I hope to God he can, but what makes you believe Zaire isn’t better? He should make leaps and strides into spring camp this year. Leading? Not sure about that, never seemed to be ‘one of the boys’. I don’t expect Zaire to be Winston, but we haven’t seen him in a real game–so how can we truly know? Practice is very different than games, and Golson hasn’t had either of those in over 12 months

  13. irishpuma - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:45 AM

    Ok let me start the lesson. Of course you believe Zaire can take over 1historian because you are on the wrong side of every damn argument when it comes to ND football. I did not say one dominant QB can’t take over and win or maybe I did not articulate it clear enough. You don’t need an all world QB to win a national championship or dominate. Winston almost lost to a far inferior QB if it was not for a bunch of luck and timing. All of the past 7 or 8 SEC BCS championships have had not dominant QB’s at the helm or not your dominant pro style or not your dominant passer, and only one of them has had any lasting pro success and that is CAM….and no in my opinion CAM was not dominant in his one and only year because he was not that consistent of a passer.

    OK now Toconnell I was assuming a massive weight loss for Zaire’s mono but whatever you can win that one if you want. Your talking about practice man, practice. I saw Zaire stink it up as a true freshman in the blue gold game too so what. He did make two nice throws as well though. I don’t even understand your point that Tommy was given the job before fall camp. Zaire was here since January and they gave Tommy the job. He did not beat out Tommy for the job???? He will not beat out Golson this year for the job barring injury or expulsion. What evidence did you give that he will. That he must be bigger and smarter and Golson practiced bad as a freshman?? Your point that we have never seen him on the field makes my case because here is what we know and what we have seen. Try and follow along.

    Here is the bottom line Golson led the team to an undefeated program, Golson knows the program, Golson started a BCS championship game and played well and threw well even though he was pressured. Golson is bigger and stronger. Golson spent all summer with Whitfield one of the greatest QB gurus on the planet and it was the longest Whitfield has ever trainined a QB one on one daily. This is the same guy who has trained a few guys you might have heard of: Taj Boyd, Andrew Luck, Rothelsberger, Cam Newton, Vince Young, Braxton Miller, Johnny “football” Manziel, EJ Manuel, Pat White, Gardner, and Mcnabb to name a few.

    Whitfield said ““That’s all the diligence right there, and he took to it. He took to it,” Whitfield said. “He just absorbs everything. That’s the longest I’ve ever spent with a quarterback in a one-on-one setting. We just came through a 10-week run. And he just absorbed everything.” On top of that Kelly said Everett is our best recruit in this cycle and getting him back is like getting a 5 star recuit.

    On top of that his mechanics are better, foot work better, throwing with the laces which will even increase his accuracy and arm strength and has more of a head for the game now as mentioned by whitfiled. and many others who have spent time with him. Coupled with his natural ability and playmaking skills. Another intangible he has matured and gone through a tough situation and I think its only going to make him stronger and more of a leader.

    So no if either of you two would like to wager golson vs. Zaire as the starter lets do it I am all in.

    PS I do hope Zaire gets to play and see the field alot and I might even agree that he could possible have a bigger upside but not this year.

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