Joseph Barksdale's stock has been on the rise in recent weeks, as evidenced by the big-time schools that continue to jump aboard the bandwagon. One school had seemingly fallen off recently, but a quick phone call cleared everything up.
"There was a little miscommunication with Tennessee," explained Barksdale. They thought I wasn't interested, but I didn't have the right number. When I got it, I called and let them know I was definitely interested. They told me that they had seen enough of me on film to mail me out an offer."
The Volunteers joined Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame in offering the Detroit Cass Tech standout a scholarship. All of the programs have been angling to get him on campus for junior days and/or spring practice. The proximity of Michigan's campus to Detroit gives the Maize and Blue a bit of an edge in that regard. They've already gotten him on campus a couple of times this winter and he plans to take the trip again in the very near future.
"I talk to a Michigan coach about once or twice a week," Barksdale said. "I am going to the Maize and Blue game on the 15th and I'm going to bring a few of my teammates also. I'm not really sure if I'm going to make it to any other. I've got to get ready for the ACT. That comes up on the eighth. Most teams stop their spring practices after that week, so I'm not really sure."
With the pool of notable suitors expanding, the Wolverines have made sure to be as vigilant as ever with Barksdale's recruitment. So too have the other programs currently under consideration. "I speak frequently with Coach Carr, Coach Smith, and Coach Tressel," said Barksdale. "I speak with (Michigan assistant) Coach Campbell about once a week. He is recruiting me with the same intensity as everyone else. It's really kind of hard to differentiate with all these coaches paying all of this attention to you.
At this point in time, discerning the differences between the schools themselves is also a bit difficult. The reputation and tradition of all of the programs is fairly comparable. Though he isn't close to paring his list down, Barksdale continues to think about the criteria that will best single out the school or schools he is looking for.
"They've got to have my curriculum which will probably be electrical or mechanical engineering…maybe even biomedical," he said. "After I look at curriculum, I'm going to look for a really good winning tradition. This upcoming season is going to be a factor of course. Then I am going to have to get along with the coaches well because if you don't like who you're playing for, then it's just not going to work."
Some of the sagest advice Barksdale receives regarding the recruiting process comes from former teammate and current Ohio State Buckeye, Vernon Gholston. Having been through it himself, Gholston has eased his friend's path to this point by warning him about some of the pitfalls.
"Me and Vernon talk all of the time," Barksdale said. "He basically tells what he did which was let the offers come, then during the season I'm going to have to start planning official visits. First I'm going to have to narrow it down to five schools I'm going to visit. He said basically I'm going to have to go where I feel comfortable and take my time and make a very educated decision. And of course I'm going to have to talk to my parents about it."
Gholston's presence in Columbus seems might be perceived by some as a factor that would put the Bucks near the top of Barksdale's list, but the ever-neutral youngster continues to deny any frontrunner.
"I know most people think that because the last star player from Cass
Tech went there, that that's where I'm going to be going, but his being there
is not that big of a factor at all," Barksdale said. "Right now, no
one really has the upper hand. I'm not really looking at it right now, so I
haven't really had time to analyze it yet."