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Barnett’s visit to Oregon heats up recruiting (UPDATED)

Jun 4, 2014, 3:23 PM EDT

Blake Barnett

Notre Dame accepted the commitment of quarterback Blake Barnett in late November, with the California quarterback defying the snowy South Bend weather by pledging his allegiance to the Irish. But as Barnett’s star has risen throughout the process, it looks like the competition for his signature has grown as well.

News broke Tuesday that Barnett took an unofficial visit to Oregon, to see a Ducks football program that had been one of Barnett’s childhood favorites. Oregon-based 247Sports’ recruiting writer Justin Hopkins was the man to break the story, catching up with Barnett and sounding alarm bells across ND Nation with a report that had Barnett close to flipping his commitment to Oregon.

The guys at Rivals had a bit of a different take, with recruiting analyst Adam Gorney catching Barnett as he returned to California. Gorney reported that Barnett hasn’t de-committed, though he did say that the switch was possible (as it is for every recruit that hasn’t signed on the dotted line. (And in the case of Eddie Vanderdoes, after he’s signed on the dotted line.)) But while the initial report made it feel like the switch was a foregone conclusion, Irish fans could put the paper bag down and take a few steadying deep breaths.

“I just wanted to give myself an opportunity to check out another school that I’ve been interested in for a while now and make sure I made the right decision with Notre Dame and just in fairness to the recruiting process explore my options and check it out,” Barnett told Rivals.

What’s real? What’s not? Is Barnett gone? At this point who knows.

While Hopkins has taken heat online for his reporting, there’s no doubt that he’s got close ties into the Oregon program. (There’s also no doubt that a guy writing for DuckTerritory.com will have a certain spin that’s different than those covering this recruitment from the ND side.)

But if the Irish are close to losing out on Barnett, they’ll have to start over recruiting a position that looked filled perfectly with Barnett. Losing out on an elite runner and passer would hurt, though it’s not as if the Irish aren’t properly set up for the near future with Everett Golson, Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer.

Position coach Matt LaFleur, Irish offensive coordinator and Southern California recruiting ace Mike Denbrock and Brian Kelly all will likely work hard to keep Barnett in the fold, as the quarterback was recruiting for the Irish as recently as last weekend, according to prospects that worked out at the Ohio NFTC camp.

One datapoint that’ll be worth watching is Barnett’s next return to South Bend. He’s expected to be at the Irish Invasion camp later this month, a critical visit for the Irish coaching staff to reestablish some momentum in Barnett’s recruitment and remind him why he made the decision to pick Notre Dame in the first place. If he doesn’t show up? It’s likely time to start casting a few lines into the water.

Oregon getting a visit from Barnett now might be the best thing to happen to the Irish in the long run. If it’s enough to flip his commitment for good, Notre Dame will have a chance to remedy that by finding another quarterback in this class and get them to campus this summer. The Irish staff landed Everett Golson late in the cycle after he had been committed to Butch Davis and North Carolina. They landed Gunner Kiel hours before reporting early.

Finding another quarterback to join the 2014 recruiting class won’t be difficult, especially if the Irish score points like many expect them to do. And while Oregon has quarterback Marcus Mariota, a quarterback some expect to be among the top picks in the 2015 NFL draft,  Mark Helfrich is in just his second year of life after Chip Kelly, so expect the trajectory of each program to play a role in the decision as well.

But Barnett’s visit certainly shook up the recruiting world for Notre Dame, adding another bit of intrigue to a process that still has eight months until Signing Day.

UPDATE (Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET): Blake Barnett has released the following statement via Twitter:

  1. oldschoollyons - Jun 4, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    After visiting Oregon, Barnett’s comments about the Ducks, while positive, did not in themselves suggest they were now his team. On the other hand, he fell far short of giving a wholehearted endorsement to Notre Dame, Saying he is “still committed” is pretty limp. It is likely that he wants another look at ND. So as you say, Keith, his experience at the Irish Invasion will be critical.

    As recruiters, the folks at Oregon are interesting. I recall the famous photo of obviously high recruits holding their joints behind their backs as a bevy of recruited coed hospitality gals grinned away. Still, Oregon does not usually rank near the top with its recruiting classes — although it does well, obviously, with its skill positions.

    The receiver who stuck with Iowa State last season despite a big rush from ND suggests that someone like Barnett could stick. And maybe he just wanted to check out a childhood favorite school. But if he is opening up his recruitment, that is something else entirely.

  2. domer77blowsgoats - Jun 4, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Cue the Nude rant about some 17 year old kidding not living to his word, blah blah blah….

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 4, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      17 yr. old kids should live up to their words! blah blah blah…

      there. I beat nude to it.

      how about this instead “kids that commit to ND to increase their rating so that they can then parlay that into offers from other schools deserve what they get.” who knows if Barnett fits this bill. I tend to say he does not, since his performance in the recruit combine circuit has been pretty impressive since he gave his verbal. though, with some of the past verbals that have gone elsewhere, however, I think this was the recruits’ strategy.

      sure, call me a conspiracy theorist, but there is clearly a bump to a recruit’s value once it’s clear to the rating services and to other schools that the recruit’s skill and academic background is good enough for ND.

      • onward2victory - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:35 PM

        If this was a valid strategy that recruits use, then we would see a ton of Alabama commits flip to somewhere else after their rating goes up. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened much.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        I don’t follow your logic. an offer from Alabama may very well indicate a kid’s got the chops to play ball at the highest level, but to my mind doesn’t quite speak to his academic potential like a ND offer.

        the virtue of the ND offer is that other schools can conclude the recruit is talented enough to merit an offer, as well as possessing sound character and academic credentials, since ND eliminates recruits from consideration on these bases consistently. sure, some schools don’t weight character and academics as others do, but other than getting an offer from Stanford, an offer from ND raises a kid’s stock because other schools can rely on ND’s conclusions.

  3. shaunodame - Jun 4, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Boy, do I hate the offseason…

  4. iamgolden4life - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Once again it would be nice to get him, but I’ll trade him anyday to get Hilliard, Cornell, Elijah Taylor, and Bilal. Wish the kid the best no matter whom he chooses. Remember folks NSD is still so far away, and defense win championships. Go Irish!!!

    • yllibnosredna - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:46 AM

      Agreed. While losing Barnett is tough, garnering blue chip front 7 guys is CRITICAL to ND competing at the highest level. The cupboard is far from bare under center, and failure to do the latter will most certainly prevent ND from playoff contention. Despite comparable star ratings, losing a Vanderdoes hurt WAY more than losing a Kiel.

  5. mediocrebob - Jun 4, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    Who cares? Sure it isn’t ideal to lose a kid like Barnett but it’s Notre Dame. They’ll be fine. As for Hilliard, Cornell and a few of the other guys, I’m not real optimistic. Sounds like a lot of them will be playing ball in Columbus. cUM is keeping ohio on lock which was a priority this year. Hope Crawford doesn’t jump on with those other guys. Tillery scares me too.

  6. getsome99 - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Who cares is right. Why was Alex Flanigan fired? For pissing BK off after the OU game? Best sideline reporter in football.

    • iamgolden4life - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:35 PM

      What Alex is no longer our sideline reporter, Thanks get some99, you just ruined my damn day. I hope your kidding!!!!

      • getsome99 - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        Afraid so. They pulled her from Sunday Night Football too. Probably so it wouldn’t look obvious that BK is responsible.

    • domerboyirish - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      So now she has more free time? Has anyone let poster ScottatND know of this development? If he can get that restraining order lifted he’d be in great shape!

  7. kansasirish - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    Hadn’t heard about Flanny. When was this announced?

    • getsome99 - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      It’s out there. Keith probably hasn’t reported it yet for fear that he could be next.

  8. danirish - Jun 4, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Defense – recruit defense. I believe we have some pretty good Elite 11 qb’s on roster regardless of what FNC111 says.

    If he leaves – darn

    We need linemen both O and D

    GO IRISH!

  9. lightskin350 - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    It doesn’t look good especially considering this has happened a lot under Brian Kelly and his coaches losing elite talent. Barnett will be a 5 star QB before his recruiting ends. Oregon is a sexy pick for these young recruits. I think its a coin flip whether we keep him or not. This camp the Irish are having will let us know where Barnett stands. BK and company needs to bring this kid back into the fold.

  10. bernhtp - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    I think that there is now less than a 50% chance Barnett enrolls at ND. Kids often use wishy-washy words like Barnett is using to communicate a change in future direction. Hell, we’ve seen the opposite of this with Drue Tranquill and his switch from Purdue to Notre Dame. Despite the commitment to Purdue that persisted for many weeks after his offer/visit to ND, I was sure he would ultimately switch. I think that Barnett will decommit, but am far less sure than with Tranquill because we are, um, not Purdue.

  11. jucam1 - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    He is telling family and friends that he is decommiting next week, according to sources up here, Oregon got coach Kelly in Philly to call the kid while here on campus and convinced him to come to OU. Oregon has him already ranked as a 5 Star recruit amd wants him bad. If Oregon wants him that bad truly, ND has no shot. This kid wants to go to the pros and he wants to be on a legit top 5 team for the next 3 years which ND isnt close to, plus he doesn’t have to worry about the grades as much. I’m not an OU fan, just here for business for 4 months and OU is all these people talk about. They think that if OU really wants him, ND has no shot

    • iamgolden4life - Jun 4, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      Well obviously if your in “Oregon” then fans there think ND has no chance @ keeping him. Maybe you should spend the next four months trying not to state the obvious feelings of bias fans there in Oregon, and troll your ass down the road. WeAreND!!! Go Irish!!!

    • pdxsiskiyou - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      I don’t understand…why would Kelly call Bennett to convince him to come to Oklahoma and why would ND have no shot if Oklahoma wants him?

  12. jem5b - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Who gives a flip about the kid qb from Ca.
    Next up.

  13. sjb198 - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    He used ND for a publicist. Remember Isaiah Mckenzie

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      that’s another way of making my point above. what can you say? maybe this kid is working the system to get the best outcome he thinks is out there for him, maybe he’s just a fickle kid who jumped on ND too early.

      I don’t think the last chapter has been written on this kid though. if he ends up coming to next next month, there’s a fair to good chance he changes course.

  14. bernhtp - Jun 4, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    I’m sure the staff will keep in touch with him given that we’ve gotten others back that decommited, but he obviously seems destined to go elsewhere.

    Next man up.

  15. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    I come to these boards in the off season to prepare myself for the next 12 years of my life. You see, over the next 12 years, I’ll have at least one…and as many as three…teenage girls in my house.

    So, watching some of you whine and cuss and complain about teenage boys is probably good practice for what i’ll be facing over the next 12 years

    • mtflsmitty - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      Pretty damn funny.

      I was just about to piss and moan a bit. But I think I’ll hold my tongue.

      #perspective

  16. mediocrebob - Jun 4, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    The kid doesn’t want to be at ND. We’ve seen it before. We’ll see it again. Probably this year (Tillery is my guess). It happens. Tough to turn down your dream school. Had I been good enough to get d1 looks and committed to some other school and then the Irish offered me, better believe I’d be flipping. Remember we just flipped a pretty damn good LB last week. That’s the way of the (recruiting) world today. Irish have talent at QB and there’s time to add on. Whether ’15 or ’16. They aren’t desperate. Good luck to Barnett. Wish he was Irish still. Maybe he can figure out a way to get the Ducks by Stanford or once.

  17. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Sometimes she goes, sometimes she don’t. It’s the way she goes boys, the way she goes.

  18. jmfinsd - Jun 4, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    No big surprise. Oregon has Mariota for 1 more year. Its No. 2 just transferred to San Diego State because he wanted to play now – makes no sense since he has to wait a year due to the transfer. Barnett probably told spot is open for him as a freshman. With Golson back, Zaire with 4 years of eligibility and looking good in Spring (yeah, I know it’s Spring), and all then talk about his talent, and the frequent comments that Kizer is cut from the same mold, Barnett probably didn’t see himself playing for 2-3 years. OK for a good QB to develop with a little time, but not what a 4/5 star wants to deal with. Besides, it’s still early. Let’s see what LaFleur can do.

    • onward2victory - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      It is disappointing though because I think that Barnett will be better than Golson, Zaire, and Kizer, and I know I’m not the only one to think that. This is a huge loss for the Irish, no way around it.

  19. onward2victory - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    Keith I thought you said we could put the paper bag down??

  20. onward2victory - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    South Bend Tribune is saying that Oregon started pushing hard for Barnett after losing out on Kyler Murray. Apparently he doesn’t mind being a school’a second best option. Maybe we can snag Murray from A&M since he’s going to be playing behind Kyle Allen for at least 2 years.

  21. fnc111 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    dan,

    How do any of us know that? When you get past your classless jab at me your post is littered with pure homerism. Two of the three “elite” quarterbacks on the roster have never taken a snap and the third is coming back from academic suspension following a season in which he was pulled several times in favor of freaking Tommy Rees. How can anyone say there is an elite group of QB’s here? No one has proven a thing either way, good or bad. Sheesh.

    • danirish - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I took a jab at you because you seem to think you are some expert at qb’s with your constant droning about how Kelly can’t recruit qb’s while we have THREE on roster and one that transferred.

      As for the experience level of those THREE Elite 11 qb’s on the roster you have a point – they don’t have that much experience. So, we should instead concentrate really hard on a kid like Barnett that you have yammered on for a bit because he has a ton of college experience right?

      Come on, take a little ribbing! Nude takes it when posters jab with Tommy Rees comments, we all ignore dickasman’s stupidity, and your constant “Randy Quaid we suck mentality” is fun!

      GO IRISH!

  22. cramblett22 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    well no more Barnett for th Irish.

    GO DUCKS!!!

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