National Letter of Intent Day is just days away, Bearcat Insider will start breaking down film of those we have access to and even post some video of the prospects who've pledged to become University of Cincinnati Bearcats. Our first prospect gave his verbal commitment to Coach Mark Dantonio back in July after having a great camp with the Bearcats.
Marcus Barnett brings many great qualities to the football field. With height (6'1.5") and speed in the 4.5-4.6 range, Barnett has enough ability to play on both sides of the field. But while his highlights show some play on defense, it's believed Marcus will use his great jumping and pass catching ability to be used on the offensive side of the football.
Marcus has great size for a receiver that could become a "big play" type of receiver. With above average speed, Barnett has great body control and catches the football with his hands. Defenses will have a hard time in covering Barnett if the ball is up in the air. A Maryland High Jump Champion, Barnett can catch the ball at its highest point. What I really like about watching his film was the desire to compete. Sometimes receivers just run their routes and stop, Barnett works down field blocking and opening up running lanes for the running attack. While the film quality isn't the greatest, keep an eye on one play with Barnett on defense. He comes from across the field trying to catch a back going for a score, while he doesn't stop him from scoring look at the effort at the end of the play given by Barnett.
The only negative I see with Marcus Barnett is his ability to adjust to the level of play. But having seen two players from his high school already play as true freshmen for the Bearcats I'm not as worried. He will have to get use to more physical play from defensive backs coming off the line but that is the only area I see a possible weakness.
Marcus Barnett is a steal for Coach Dantonio. The Bearcats are getting a player who is a great athlete with football skills. While projected as a wide receiver he also could be looked at as a defensive back. While Scout.com has him listed as a 2-star prospect, I give him a 3 star ranking and feel when we look back at the end of his four years on the field many will say he was underrated. I expect Marcus to be given a chance to compete this fall for a spot in the receiver's rotation. I like his burst and the flexibility he shows on the field. This player's best football is still ahead of him and all he needs to do is come into the Bearcats program and work.
Here is a short clip of highlights on Marcus. Keep you eye on #15, you will see him catch, run, block and place some nice hits on other receivers.