The recruitment of Brentwood, Tenn., TE/DL Derek Barnett has grown exponentially recently as the three-star prospect added three big-time offers last week.
One of those came from LSU, which Barnett admitted took him a bit off guard. His coach at Brentwood Academy, Cody White, had maintained contact with LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis — who handles recruiting in Tennessee — and Barnett's name had come up several times in conversation.
But the topic of those talks had never approached receiving an offer until the one last week.
"I walked into [Coach White's] office the other day, and he told me I need to call Coach Chavis and they're going to offer me," Barnett said. "So I called Coach Chavis and we talked for a little bit, and he wanted to let me know that I have an offer from them. Next week he wants me to call back so I can talk to Coach Miles so I can start knowing the coaching staff more."
Though most evaluators believe Barnett could play on either side of the ball in college, LSU is recruiting him to play TE. Coach Chavis is the only member of the LSU staff Barnett has spoken to, but he came away with a favorable impression of the legendary defensive coordinator.
"I liked him because he was talking about other schools, but he wasn't badmouthing them," Barnett said. "A lot of coaches will badmouth other schools to get you to go to their school. But he wasn't doing that. He was talking to me about the recruiting process and giving me some good advice. He asked me to give LSU a chance and that's what I liked about him."
Barnett said he plans to speak this week with the other members of the LSU coaching staff, particularly those on the offensive side of the ball. Because the offer came from Chavis, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger would probably need to see a bit more from Barnett over the coming months before that offer would become committable.
That will come in time, and Barnett said he's looking forward to learning more about the other coaches, as well as how LSU utilizes its TEs.
"I'm not that familiar with what they do offensively," Barnett said. "I watch their games, but I usually focus on the defensive side of the ball. I'm not familiar with it yet, but I'm going to ask questions and see how they use their TEs. Then I'll go from there."
Though most of the TEs LSU has targeted in this recruiting cycle fit that athletic, receiving mold, Barnett is more similar to current Tiger Dillon Gordon. At 6-foot-3, 281 pounds, Barnett has plenty of athleticism, which is evident in his play as a DL, but he said his best skill as a TE comes in his blocking.
"I'm a good blocker," Barnett said. "I'm a big-bodied guy so I can block real well. I have really good hands. I'm not the fastest TE, but I can still run with the ball. A lot of people see my weight and think I'm too big to play TE, but I think I'm a great TE."
Barnett said Chavis encouraged him to make a visit to campus so the other coaches can get a first-hand look at him. Barnett said he will take that trip, he just isn't sure when he'll be able to make it.
Though Barnett doesn't yet know much about what LSU has to offer, he did say that LSU ranks high on list based on reputation alone.
"They're in the running because they compete for championships," Barnett said. "They're in the SEC and they produce really good players that make it to the draft. It's something for me to think about. But I'm just starting to look into all that, but I'd say they're up there."
With a double-digit offer list, Barnett said the schools standing out to him most are in the SEC. In addition to LSU, he also holds SEC offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas A&M.
"I'll probably narrow it down this summer, because I don't want to waste any coaches time," Barnett said. "I'll probably narrow it down just to be respectful to all the colleges that are recruiting me."
Barnett ready to learn more about LSU
Tiger Blitz Top Stories
LSU Depth Chart is Settled for Ole Miss gameWith LSU's matchup against Ole Miss looming on Saturday night, coach Ed Orgeron met with the media to update injuries, players making moves on the depth chart and about how big of…
Tiger BlitzYesterday at 4:36 PM
LSU Tigers Linebackers Wish ListTiger Blitz has done some digging and breaks down the top linebacker targets LSU is currently pursuing in the 2017 class.
Tiger BlitzYesterday at 3:00 PM
As Orgeron's popularity grows, fans sound offTiger Blitz attended Coach Ed Orgeron's Weekly Radio Show at TJ Ribs Wednesday night to get some thoughts and reactions from the LSU Tiger Family.
Tiger BlitzYesterday at 12:23 PM
5 Biggest LSU-Ole Miss Recruiting StorylinesTiger Blitz' Billy Embody and OM Spirit's Yancy Porter break down the biggest recruiting storylines for LSU-Ole Miss including the latest on each 2017 target for both schools.
Tiger BlitzWednesday at 9:20 AM