In Focus: MI Jr. DT Joseph Barksdale: Part 1

Detroit Cass Tech DT Joseph Barksdale was one of the standout performers at last weekend's Army Junior Combine in San Antonio Texas. GoBlueWolverine caught up with one of the Cass Tech coaches down in the Lone Star state and he shed light on just how good his 6-5 defensive tackle is.

Detroit Cass Tech assistant Charleston Fobbs has seen his fair share of good athletes during his tenure as an assistant under head coach and former Michigan Wolverine Thomas Wilcher at the academically prestigious school. Two years ago he had current Ohio State Buckeye, Vernon Gholston, and current Wisconsin Badger, Allen Langford. As talented as those two players were, Fobbs thinks his latest prospect is just as good.

Joseph Barksdale is one of the top prospects in the in-state junior class, and was one of the few bright spots on a young Cass Tech team that went 2-7 last year. This physically imposing youngster is soft spoken academic off the field, but according to his coach, he is a terror on it. "He's one of those kids that is relentless when it comes to being physical and attacking," Fobbs said. "He's definitely going to keep coming. He don't have no quit in him when it comes to competing. That's the thing we build on in everything that we do with him."

The 6-5, 305-pound defensive tackle was a man amongst boys on the playing field, often having to contend with more than one opponent. Maintaining his level of play despite that is where Fobbs has seen his young pupil make the most progress.

"He came a long way for us this season," said Fobbs. "Obviously with as big as he is, he is drawing a double team each time. The biggest thing we worked on this year is him utilizing his hands, recognizing the double team when it's coming, and being able to destroy it. He came a long way on doing that."

Barksdale faced his fair share of double teams at the combine in San Antonio also, and he acquitted himself quite well. Much of that has the do with his intense preparation in recent months. As effective as he may have already been, Fobbs thinks his young pupil can be even better.

"He was the only kid that didn't come off the field for us this year," Fobbs explained. "That was at 315…not at the 305 he is now. He has been playing a little basketball, so that got his conditioning up and his weight down. He is really coming into his own now, physically. That's what we're really working on with him. We are really getting him to work hard on his conditioning. That's the next step in him becoming the player we think he can be. Like I said, he is getting there. Strength wise, before we came down here to San Antonio, he did 225, 21 times."

Barksdale, like the majority of other prospects his age, is still obviously a work in progress. That, however, has not prevented the programs from jumping on him early in a very big way. "Michigan and Michigan State both told him personally that they wanted him," Fobbs said. "And they said wanted to get it over fast. They don't want to let it linger."

For more on whether that has a chance of happening, check back for comments from the youngster himself in part two of this feature tomorrow. In the meantime, check out GoBlueWolverine's latest Army Junior Combine Report for word on some of the standout performance over the weekend.

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