Sam Webb: Coach, can you tell us how Big Tex flew under the radar for so long?
Coach Barnett: "What happened, before I got here they didn't sell the kids. This is my second year here and they never sold the kids. My oldest son, he's a true freshman at Texas and so we did a lot of work for him. My feeling is that we are going to help the kids. Regardless of the kids' economic situation or whatever, we are going to help the kids. So I took his stuff and I just started cutting up all the game film and I got a couple of good buddies that do some college coaching that pretty much told me, put the stuff out there that people don't believe a kid his size can do. That's why his video looks the way it does. He's got tons of plays, but we just put plays on there where he's outrunning defensive backs, where he's running over linebackers, and things like that. So people say, ‘damn this kid is something else!' The funny thing about it, if I hadn't changed the offense… because he was the starting quarterback his sophomore year and he threw for a 1000 yards his sophomore… now I got a big back down here and he's rushed for 1100 yards…. so we kind of went to a pro style set… but if I don't change the offense he's throwing for 1200 yards a year, running for another 600. We kind took some of that pressure off of him just a little bit. Then we had a lot of schools look at him. They said with his size and his speed he could play some defensive tackle. So far a couple of games this year I didn't even let him play offense… I let him play defensive tackle, so when they come in and see him he has got defensive tackle film."
Sam Webb: From what you've seen from him at D-tackle, what kind of player has he been for you at that spot?
Coach Barnett: "His quickness and his strength are incredible. So his ability to get off blocks and his ability to split the double teams. The funny thing about it; I actually thought he played better at defensive end, a space player than he did at a two technique at defensive tackle."
Coach Barnett: "I'm going to tell you this. (There's a good chance) this kid will come to Michigan. I've had conversations with him, numerous conversations about Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, and Tennessee. There are some other schools that are kind of waiting and seeing. Down here, they list him as an athlete. They don't list him as a defensive tackle or quarterback. They list him as an athlete. Schools down here, they recruit based off of your profile. If they looking for a defensive tackle, they're not really thinking about Jatashun. They know he's out there but they said, ‘this other kid right here, he's been a defensive tackle for four years in high school, this is the kid we going to take a chance on.' Jatashun was kind of on the backseat. But when he committed to Arkansas my phone went haywire. Everybody said, ‘why you let him commit?' I told them, ‘Here's the deal, this kid doesn't have to wait on anyone. He's going to college. He's the one that watch the film, go to practice and go to class. So that's his decision.' I thought we were better than that. I had a couple of guys upset with me, because they were in a position what they call, evaluating phase. In the Big 12 it's, ‘let's evaluate the kid, let's make sure that we got a good evaluation, make sure his film looks this way.' So all the checks and balances that they do sometimes they miss out on good talent. It's evident when (Big 12 teams) play in the championship game. It's not the schools that (Big 12 clubs) are playing is better, it is just Florida had more talent than Oklahoma – bottom line. They had more talent. You are seeing now in the AP poll with Texas. My son is there, but people still saying Texas is undefeated, but that is B12 and there is Florida and Alabama sitting up there. We'll always be there because of the way we recruit and the way we evaluate our players. But Jatashun Beachum can play football for anybody."
Sam Webb: You said your son at Texas. What happened to Texas on Jatashun?
Coach Barnett: "Here's the deal with Texas. Bruce Chambers recruits down there; he's a good friend of mine. He actually coached at (Dallas Intermediate School District) before he got to Texas. He pretty much called me right off the top. He said coach, ‘I know Jatashun is a hell of player. I know we going to have to play against him, but we just not in a situation to take defensive tackles.' We want him at defensive tackle.' He was the first coach to call me and so I was able to sit down with Jatashun, hey Jatashun, Texas is not going to be an option because of this. Everybody else was like, hold off coach, wait on me, let me see. For this kid? No."
Sam Webb: Arkansas obviously picked up a commitment from him recently. When did Michigan come in and what did you see as Big Tex's reaction when he heard that Michigan wanted him?
Coach Barnett: "Well here's the deal… and this is what I shared with (the Michigan coaches). Everybody in the south, we like good football. It doesn't matter if it is Michigan or USC, we like good football and the thing that kind of put Michigan on a whole different level… and I shared this with Michigan… is ‘Shoelaces' (Denard Robinson)."
Sam Webb: Really?
Coach Barnett: "Yes sir. We all watch Shoelaces. Shoelaces is a phenomenon for the kids down here. I got kids on my freshman team – my freshman quarterback says he is going to be the next Shoelaces. He comes to practice and his shoes not tied, ‘I'm Shoelaces.' So I was starting to explain to Michigan the impact that Shoelaces has on the inner city kids in the south. We all watch Michigan when they on TV. One, we rooting for Shoelaces and two, we really trying to see what's going to happen with Michigan football. Jatashun is one of those kids that is smart enough to know that this is a fit for me that's not a fit. Michigan is doing a hell of a job recruiting him. So it is making it easier for him."