Barnett Prepping For Next Level

Most highly ranked defensive players in high school also ply their trade on the offensive side of the ball as well. Not so for Clayton (Ohio) Northmont four-star cornerback C.J. Barnett, who insists he is a defender all the way.

Plenty of Division I football talent has come from Clayton (Ohio) Northmont in the past few years. Names such as Zebrie Sanders, Clay Belton and Kurt Coleman dot the college football landscape while calling themselves Thunderbolts alumni.

With a number of talented players on the roster this year, Ohio State fans know the name C.J. Barnett as a four-star cornerback prospect as ranked by who opted to verbally commit to the Buckeyes back in February. Next season, he will join Coleman in donning the Scarlet and Gray.

First, though, is his senior season. As one part of his team's 48-7 victory against Fairborn, Ohio, Barnett had a typical game for a high school cornerback: He was seldom tested by a Skyhawks team that struggled to get much going offensively. The lone Fairborn touchdown came on an interception returned for a touchdown.

"We were bigger than them," Barnett told afterward. "We knew we were the better team."

The 6-1, 180-pound Barnett is ranked as the No. 11 cornerback prospect in the country. He had just one ball thrown in his direction during the game, and his hit immediately jarred the ball loose for an incompletion.

He finished with three tackles on defense but had a slightly more pronounced impact on offense.

Lining up at quarterback in two red-zone opportunities, Barnett took two direct snaps. The first time, he picked up one yard and was immediately replaced. Later in the game, he took the snap and picked up two yards and a touchdown on a run over the left guard.

On special teams, Barnett lined up as both a punt and kick returner. He returned one of the two Skyhawks kickoffs for 27 yards and brought back three punts for 29 yards, fumbling one.

While most defensive backs double as wide receivers in high school, Barnett said he is a pure defender – one of the main reasons OSU is looking at him as a cornerback.

"They're looking at me as a cover corner," he said. "They said they like my aggressiveness and my coverage skills. It's nice to get in there on offense, but I play defense."

As a freshman, Barnett saw some time at safety before being moved to cornerback. He saw some time at safety for a few plays against Fairborn but was primarily utilized as a cornerback.

Barnett issued his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes in late February. Since then, he has been able to focus exclusively on his senior season without having to worry about where he might go to college.

If any coaches besides those from the Buckeyes have been contacting him, Barnett said he is unaware.

"I haven't checked my mail at all," he said. "I'm completely, 100 percent committed to OSU. It's been great to get to just be able to focus on my senior year."

The 6-1, 180-pound Barnett plans to graduate from high school following his school's first semester and will enroll for spring classes at OSU.

Despite the lack of action and the lopsided victory against Fairborn, Barnett said he is excited to play each and every game on the schedule.

"Nah, you never get bored," he said. "You play football because you love football. If you get bored, you shouldn't be playing. I will get a lot more action, so it's alright."

Although Barnett said he saw OSU's 35-3 nationally televised loss to USC on Sept. 13, the game left a positive impact on him.

"It was a tough loss, but I think they're a lot better than that," he said. "I was surprised, but that is extra motivation for the incoming recruits because it gives us goals and things to shoot for."

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