The 2015 Irish signal-caller commit took home MVP honors as selected by the NIKE Camp last weekend. MVP's are based on camp performance only. Barnett ousted Travis Waller of Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, who just picked up an Alabama offer, and Michigan State commit Brian Lewerke of Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle, among others for the award.
Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins evaluated Barnett's performance on the day:"Barnett looked great and in fact, after seeing him at the SoCal NIKE Camp and the Elite 11 Regional Camp in L.A, this was the best we've seen him throw. The ball was exploding out of his hand, he was incredibly accurate and threw the tightest ball in the camp. It was a testament to his competitiveness and desire to work, that Barnett even attended the camp after already locking in his spot to the Elite 11 Finals. We've said it many times before but physically, no quarterback has as much upside as Barnett and if he continues to improve at the rate he has been over the last year, he's going to be a very special player in college."
2. In the Kelly era, the state of Georgia has not been a hot bed for securing a high quantity of commitments (four total).To be fair, though, Georgia players tend to stay there, or at least in the South. Still, if Notre Dame is to continue to compete with best in recruiting, and in turn for championships, plucking a couple from Georgia could to a long way, particularly those with offers from the Bulldogs, operating as big skill/power types, and those attending traditional powerhouse schools.
Playing Georgia Tech in Atlanta every few years will aid in recruiting, but playing in Athens could truly make a sizable impact. Scheduling Georgia has been a topic for a while now, and Brian Kelly spoke with Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman on Monday about how playing Mark Richt's squad would be beneficiary to recruiting:
"I don't think that's something that's too hard (to fit in)," Kelly said. "One of our wishes -- (ND athletic director) Jack (Swarbrick) and I -- is we want to get an SEC team on our schedule. Of course, we've got a home-and-home with Texas. The discussions have been to include an SEC opponent. We want one that we feel makes sense, that has a very good geographical draw for us in the SEC. We're in Florida already with Florida State. So you can probably figure out pretty easily what SEC team would be the best draw as it relates to recruiting and the alumni base."
Notre Dame is slated to receive visits from two high-profile Peach State natives this summer, defensive end Austin Bryant and outside linebacker Adonis Thomas. Both have offers from Georgia. Bryant named Notre Dame as one of his standouts in a recent interview with Irisheyes, and Thomas named Notre Dame to his top five this past weekend, along with Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU.
Notre Dame has also offered a 2016 quarterback from Georgia, Jawon Pass. He named Notre Dame and Texas A&M as his early leaders in March in an interview with Irisheyes.
3. Spring games (high school) will start to pick up next week, and that's when the staff will head out to see many of the top prospects for the second time of the evaluation period.
As I alluded to earlier on the boards, Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur is back in California today visiting sophomore quarterback Malik Henry, who's visiting Notre Dame for Irish Invasion. Henry holds a Notre Dame offer and will be a top prospect at the position in 2016.
4. Earlier today in the Big Board, I mentioned that Notre Dame could settle for two running backs, with one being a diamond-in-the-rough-type projection specializing in a desired niche.Of course it's still early, but one name to keep an eye on in that regard is three-star running back Karan Higdon of Sarasota (Fla.) Riverview. Higdon is a current South Florida commit, but he's added offers since his commitment, including Syracuse and Arkansas. He also stays in regular contact with Notre Dame.
Higdon's niche is speed, and he's also a 4.0 student with an offer from Dartmouth. He told Scout.com that education will play a big factor in his final decision, which would play nicely in Notre Dame's favor.
"I would say that education is 50% of my decision and I mean that. It's education and football, 50% each. I want to do Pre-Med. You have to have a good education. That lasts forever. Football doesn't."
Higdon rushed the ball 185 times for 987 yards and 15 scores last season as a junior despite missing three games.
5. Early signing period on the way?Last week in Amelia Island, Florida, ACC commissioner John Swofford pointed out that the ACC as a league will continue to advocate for an early signing period. The proposed signing period would start Aug. 1. This obviously opens up room for many arguments to made on behalf of both supporters and those in disagreement with the idea.
Notre Dame has suffered its fair share of decommitments in the last two cycles, so at first glance, it may seem like a good thing. But, looking closer, I don't believe Notre Dame would benefit from it. Notre Dame has had recent success closing in on seemingly "written off" top prospects late in the fall and early in the winter, i.e. Greg Bryant. Notre Dame's football tradition and academic reputation will always be standing, even when other programs' championship expectations in July fall by the wayside in October. With an August signing period, in November- January, Notre Dame wouldn't be able to fly to South Bend for official visits disoriented recruits who opt for the trendy pre-season favorite only to have their favorite position coach fired months later.
I like the suggestion of allowing early enrollees to sign early, however. Now, wouldn't it be nice to have Blake Barnett totally locked in in just a couple of months?