Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅞, 187 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Barnes has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Among the six cornerbacks with four years of eligibility remaining, Barnes may be the one most likely to see genuine time in 2022. He should enter the season in the two-deep as senior Cam Hart’s backup.
Recruiting: How do you prefer to gauge a recruit? Based on recruiting rankings? Then Barnes was a middling prospect, a consensus three-star prospect and the No. 60 cornerback in the class, per rivals.com.
Or do you consider scholarship offers to be the better indicator? Then Barnes was a top-tier recruit, chased by Clemson, LSU, Oregon and USC, even though he is a Maryland native.
The vast disparity between the two thought processes — often a difference, but not usually to this degree — can somewhat be traced to Barnes’ lack of a senior season (pandemic) cutting into his chances to impress the recruiting coverage industry.
CAREER TO DATE
There may be little-to-no practical difference between freshmen who play four games early in the season and freshmen who play their four games to end the season, but from a narrative standpoint, the difference is stark. By playing in four of Notre Dame’s final five games last year, including the Fiesta Bowl, Barnes gave the impression of closing the season strong and in the most important games of the year.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“Enrolling a semester early may have put Barnes in better position to play in 2021, but the growing depth at cornerback for the Irish means that is still not an excellent chance. Notre Dame has added pieces at corner diligently the last few recruiting cycles. Add in receiver-turned-corner junior Cam Hart, presumed boundary starter, and suddenly the Irish may not be as desperate at cornerback as they have seemed to be every couple seasons for the last decade.
“Nonetheless, Barnes’ length could make him an intriguing piece if needed. Two things remain beyond teaching at cornerback, speed and length, and Barnes already has half that combination to a degree perhaps only Hart can genuinely match in the position group.
“It is most likely Barnes sees minimal action in 2021, perhaps in a few blowouts or maybe in a very specific matchup against a physical receiver. …
“Barnes could move to safety in years to come, something openly acknowledged during his recruitment, but his most likely destination may be boundary cornerback, where his length could be best utilized.
“Hart should have that position to himself for the next two seasons, giving Barnes some time to work on the finer pieces of his technique.”
It would be unnecessarily ambitious to suggest Barnes will be one of the answers to those questions, but along with early-enrolled freshman Jaden Mickey, he does seem most likely to genuinely fill a backup role. Obviously, that will lead to some snaps when the respective starter needs a breather or rolls an ankle, but it will also lead to one of Barnes or Mickey seeing plenty of dime action.
The nickel package is utilized more often than not, and the dime package — needing at least six defensive backs — is far from a rarity. Notre Dame’s depth at safety will make it so the sixth defensive back is usually among them, but specific matchups may require Barnes or Mickey.
Aside from that, Barnes should be a lock for punt coverage, perhaps on every single such snap. That alone could lead to half a dozen tackles.
RELATED READING: Ryan Barnes shares moving personal reason for attending Notre Dame
DOWN THE ROAD
Barnes has the physical attributes to ease into a starting role once one is available. Bracy will conclude his career this season, and Hart may see fit to chase the NFL, though a fifth year for the converted receiver still feels most likely.
If Barnes gets a handful of reps at cornerback this season and handles them with aplomb, he will immediately have a leg up on the rest of the bounty of unknowns in the position group.
Early enrollee CB Ryan Barnes flashing his length here.
Video | Notre Dame Athletics pic.twitter.com/hHqN4VtAht
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) April 17, 2021
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end
No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury
No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback
No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star
No. 17 Jaylen Sneed, early-enrolled linebacker, Rover of the future
No. 16 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern transfer, preseason All-American, starting safety
No. 16 Deion Colzie, sophomore receiver
No. 15 Tobias Merriweather, freshman receiver, forever a memorable recruitment
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL