2008 Oklahoma coach of the year Antwain Jimmerson has seen his fair share of talent during his time with Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa.
“We had six guys go Division I just this past recruiting season,” Jimmerson said. “We have four guys in the NFL. We have Etan Thomas, who ended up at Syracuse, in the NBA. It is just a talent rich school, so Calvin is not really fazed by where he is at.”
Yet, despite the stars that have come through the halls of Washington, not many were able to make the immediate impact that Barnett was able to make.
“He is a kid that will leave here as a four year starter, and for this program, that is really saying something,” Jimmerson said. “He actually plays both ways for us, which is what is really crazy. He starts as our center and is our most dominant defensive tackle. He was an offensive tackle during his first two seasons, as well, so he has the talent to make it happen on either side of the ball.”
What is the secret behind the six-foot-three, 280-pound two-way lineman’s success?
“Calvin has something that you can’t teach, and that’s his nastiness,” said Jimmerson with a laugh. “We had John Williams graduate here a few years ago and he went on to play at Kansas. He was a great lineman, but when you see someone like Calvin come along you just see that he takes his game to another level with his intensity.
“He is just really mean on the field,” added Jimmerson. “He gets down in there and gets nasty, that is all I can really say. He is definitely an intimidating presence. Of course, off the field he is a big baby. But, if you strap those pads on him, he becomes something special.”
After a season that culminated in a state title, Jimmerson said that the best from Barnett, who closed out the campaign with 72 tackles and two sacks, is yet to come.
“Everyone knows how high school football is when you get into the games where you just blow another team out,” he said. “We saw a lot of those, so Calvin rarely ever played past halftime. I would even take him out on defense and throw four ends in there just to give him a rest for his offensive sets. So the great stats aren’t there, because Calvin would have had 100 tackles somewhere else.”
With his recruitment kicking into gear, Jimmerson said that he is already getting a feeling for how Barnett is seeing his process unfold.
“He has a few offers, including Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Oregon State,” Jimmerson said. “Yet, after he and some of the guys came back from a recent trip to Arkansas, he came back blown away with the facilities.
“I hear it every year from the kids when they get over to the Southeastern Conference schools,” added Jimmerson. “While they have the big conference name going for them, they also have the best facilities in the country, and kids really take to that.”
With the desire from Barnett to take his talent to the NFL, Jimmerson is quick to point out another positive for the SEC.
“I even remember when Felix Jones was getting recruited and he got over to Arkansas and he was just floored,” added Jimmerson. “Of course, they turned him into an NFL talent as well. In fact, all three of our guys that went to the SEC made it to the NFL, so that says something. They are tough to compete against once the players get a look at the programs.”
As for the Tigers, Jimmerson said that the interest is there.
“Calvin has been hearing a good bit from LSU,” he said. “These kids have such good success leaving the state, so I think he likes hearing from big schools like LSU. I think he wants to learn more about them, so he will get out to camps this summer and show them what he has. I am not sure if they even know if they want him on offense or defense, he really is that good.”
As for a timeframe, Jimmerson expects to see a commitment come after the junior takes in his summer camps.
“Most of our kids like to commit by the fall so that they can focus on football,” he said. “I definitely expect Calvin to commit early simply because of the season we had last year. Everyone wants to get the recruitment stuff out of the way so that we can focus on bringing home another Golden Ball.”