Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chris Barnett, Wolverine

Boise State, eat your heart out.

Chris Barnett, a tight end from Hurst, TX, committed to the Wolverines on Wednesday.  Barnett was a bit of a surprise commitment on National Signing Day, because originally, he had planned to announce his commitment and sign his NLI this coming Saturday.

The 6'6", 245 pounder is a 4-star to Rivals and a 3-star recruit to both Scout and ESPN.  He reported offers from the likes of Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, and various others.  In addition, he had been previously committed to both Oklahoma and Arkansas.  The NSD switch from Arkansas to Michigan provides a small amount of consolation for defensive tackle Dequinta Jones, who switched from the Wolverines to the Razorbacks on NSD 2009.

I have my reservations about Barnett, despite his impressive offer list.  He seems to be a boom-or-bust type of player.  He has good speed and good size, catches the ball well with his hands instead of his body, shows decent agility, etc.  If and when he gives 100%, he should be a real threat.

But there's a good amount of film on him out there on the internet, and I see a general theme: he seems to be a guy who doesn't go hard all the time.  He jogs through camp drills at times.  He has some bad body weight around his middle.  He doesn't move his feet extremely well as a blocker.

He also doesn't seem to realize that he's six-foot-six and 245 lbs.!  Someone who's that big and that fast should be running people over, but instead, he tries to dance around defensive backs once he catches the ball.  He's athletic enough that it works sometimes, but he's got to learn to lower his shoulder and punish smaller players for trying to tackle him.  He shows flashes of a willingness to punish opponents, but it's just not consistent.  Hopefully, tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno can convince him how special he can be.

Barnett is Michigan's 20th commitment in the Class of 2011.  Brady Hoke hinted that the class might grow by "a few" when the number was at 19, so perhaps there's a lower level recruit out there who might decide for Michigan.  But the class is most likely finalized.  Barnett was an important recruit in particular because of the low numbers and lack of depth at tight end.  With Martell Webb running out of eligibility after 2010, that left only senior-to-be Kevin Koger and redshirt junior-to-be Brandon Moore as scholarship tight ends on the roster; there are also rumors that Ricardo Miller moved to tight end late in the season, but that has been unconfirmed. 

Barnett probably needs a year to redshirt and work on his body, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the field this fall.  Even a slight injury to either of the top two guys would likely necessitate an appearance by Barnett for the multiple tight end sets that Brady Hoke and Al Borges like to use at times.

TTB Rating: 82


  1. He reminds me of Jermichael Finley. TEs take a while to develop and I think this year he'll strictly be a red-zone type but in 2 years he's going to be a Big 10 TE.

    Which scouting service do you think is more accurate Scout or Rivals?

  2. @ KB 11:20 a.m.

    Finley is a pretty good comparison, actually. I was kind of surprised that Barnett left Oklahoma, because I think Oklahoma, Texas, etc. do a good job of using athletic tight ends more so than other conferences.

    I really have no opinion on Scout vs. Rivals as far as rankings go. Both are accurate at times, both are inaccurate at times. I think Rivals is right that Barnett is a 4-star level recruit, but I think Scout is right that Poole is a 4-star recruit.

  3. This was an enormous addition to the class. Its interesting that Barnett was just a 3-star to two of the sites and generally ranked around 15th in the country at his position. Compare that to his offer sheet and you have to wonder why such a disparity.

    My initial reaction to your assessment was disappointment, but now that I think about it your critiques just sound like issues that are begging to be fixed with coaching.

    Even with 2 4-star caliber (talented) upperclassmen at TE in Moore and Koger, I'd expect to see Barnett play some role in the offense this season. It maybe a few games into the season though.

    I've always been a fan of using TEs in the passing game. Their homerun potential is generally low, but it seems like TEs convert an inordinate amount of 3rd down catches and have the size to hold on to the ball over the middle. Barnett's skillset seems to indicate thats how he can best be used.

    On top of that, he seems genuinely enthusiastic to be a wolverine. His interview on WTKA got me excited for the season.