Player capsule: Blake Barnett
Weight: 200 pounds
2015 season quick review: Barnett began the 2016 season as the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide after slightly edging out true freshman Jalen Hurts in a fall competition. However, after Barnett split time with Hurts in Alabama's season-opener against USC, coach Nick Saban gave Hurts the keys to the Crimson Tide offense and he drove away with it. Hurts never looked back and after the fourth game of the season, Barnett elected to transfer away from Alabama and enroll at Palomar College to become eligible to play at another school in 2017. In December, Barnett committed to Arizona State and by late January, Barnett was granted a waiver by the NCAA that made him immediately eligible to play for the Sun Devils.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: After opening the 2016 season by completing 5-of-6 passes for 100 yards in Alabama's demolition of USC, Barnett saw limited playing time over the next three games as he completed just six more passes on 13 attempts before electing to transfer.
Barnett's subsequent decision to commit to ASU came at a pivotal time for the program because after back-to-back sub .500 seasons, the Sun Devils were in need of a talent infusion and Barnett's presence guaranteed to raise the level of competition at the quarterback position.
A former five-star recruit out of Santiago High School and the No. 2 ranked quarterback in the country in the Class of 2015, Barnett boasts the type of elite frame at 6-foot-5 and impressive arm strength that put him on the radar early in his prep career.
Though Barnett will need to learn how to translate all of his potential into consistency at the college level, he possesses the type of physical tools that give him a higher ceiling than any other quarterback on ASU's depth chart.
A big-bodied passer with plus mobility for his size, Barnett is capable of launching the ball from the pocket and hitting receivers in intermediate and deep patterns which should be important in new offensive coordinator Billy Napier's playbook. Additionally, Barnett has the capability to get the ball out of his hands quickly, which is important for a quarterback in a system that requires more timing routes, more advanced reads and extended progressions.
One of the main hurdles Barnett faces right now is with his throwing motion, which is a bit inconsistent and somewhat quirky and can tend to lead to inaccurate passes. At times this spring, Barnett struggled to hit receivers running at full speed in short and intermediate routes, and those are the types of plays where quarterbacks cannot afford to be off the mark. Additionally, when Barnett does take chances down the field, he's tended to be inaccurate, which can make him interception-prone -- a bad quality for a program whose head coach prioritizes ball security above all else.
During the spring, Barnett also demonstrated a tendency to throw many of his passes at the same tempo, which led to him throwing a less-catchable ball. This fall, Barnett will need to prove he has a greater feel for throws at short-to-intermediate distances and strike the right balance between the touch and velocity on his passes so that receivers can haul them in with more ease.
Another question mark facing Barnett is how he'll respond to handling more complex defensive looks and how he'll deal with facing pressure. In high school, Barnett was bigger and faster than most of his counterparts and could take off and scramble when a play broke down. At ASU, Barnett will need to demonstrate an ability to extend plays with his legs and scramble to pass and not run, which is also going to challenge him to process plays faster and read defenses on the run.
For Barnett to beat out incumbent starter Manny Wilkins, he'll need to put in hours of work over the summer developing relationships with receivers and working on the timing of all of ASU's route concepts, as well as hours of work in ASU's strength and conditioning program adding weight and functional strength to his frame. Barnett would greatly benefit from spending time on the practice field with fellow transfers like John Humphrey Jr. and Ryan Newsome, who are both weapons the Sun Devils figure to deploy in more complex patterns and players who have game-breaking ability once they get the ball in their hands.
Projected depth chart status: After his first spring on campus, Barnett remains squarely in the hunt for ASU's starting quarterback job, as the Sun Devils have essentially whittled things down to a two-way battle between the Alabama transfer and Wilkins, the program's incumbent at the position. Though Wilkins may hold a slight edge due to the intangibles he brings to the table and the fact he boasts the familiarity of being a fourth-year player and returning starter, Barnett has a higher ceiling as a prospect and could benefit if the ASU coaching staff elects to move forward with the best long-term solution at the position. The Sun Devils may enter the 2017 season in a situation where both Wilkins and Barnett will receive reps, and though that type of competition didn't benefit Barnett in Tuscaloosa, it could help him overtake Wilkins on the depth chart in Tempe.