Earnest will pay his own way as a walk-on athlete, but his background indicates he definitely could help. "Barrett played split end for us," Loretto High School Head Coach John Jacobs told BamaMag.com Wednesday. "But I think they're wanting him to play tight end at Alabama. He's 6-4 and weighs about 225 pounds right now, so he can easily grow into the position."
Through the first five games this past season Earnest had 21 receptions for 369 yards, an average of 17.6 yards per catch. He also scored five touchdowns. As a junior Earnest caught 56 passes for 863 yards.
"He got injured in the fifth game and wasn't able to play the remainder of the season," Jacobs explained. "He was well on pace for a great year last year before he injured his knee."
Dr. James Andrews of HealthSouth in Birmingham performed the surgery, and Earnest's recovery is ahead of schedule. "He went through four months of rehab and in fact came back and finished the basketball season and made All-Tournament at the end of the year," Jacobs said.
After his injury most schools backed off the tall receiver. Earnest did take official visits to Middle Tennessee, UT-Martin, North Alabama, West Alabama and Bethel College. Several other smaller schools were also hoping to gain his commitment, but he chose to walk on at Alabama over offers from lesser schools.
Loretto, Tennessee is a small town located just across the Alabama/Tennessee border on US 43, Northwest of Decatur, Alabama.
"His mother and father (Grant Earnest, who serves on the Loretto High School staff) were both Alabama graduates," Jacobs related. "He went down to Tuscaloosa and met with the Alabama staff. They were very positive with him. I know he's very excited and certainly we're really excited for him."
New Tide Head Coach Mike Price will be completely revamping the Alabama offense next year, installing a pass-first philosophy that will rely heavily on the tight end.
Earnest will likely redshirt his first year in college, filling out his frame and adding strength while also learning the system. But he definitely hopes to contribute at tight end. "He's in the weight room with us every day with our next year's team working out," Jacobs said. "He's really dedicated."