Blake Barnett attended four colleges in four different states and played for his third Football Bowl Subdivision team from 2018-19. Call him a journeyman if you want, but the graduate transfer was persistent and never gave up his dream of playing college football.
What looked to be a promising career as the starting quarterback for Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide saw him lose his starting job in Tuscaloosa, transfer to Palomar College in California, and get beat out to be the starting signal caller at Arizona State.
Then, the 6-foot-5 former five-star prospect transferred to South Florida and became the starter for head coach Charlie Strong and the Bulls.
Blake Barnett’s College Career
Barrett in 2018 became the first quarterback not named Quinton Flowers to take the starting snaps for South Florida since the end of the 2014 season. He beat out Brett Kean and Chris Oladokun — two signal callers who were already in the program before.
What’s crazy is Barnett had only thrown 24 passes in his entire career before earning his shot at USF.
After using a redshirt in 2015, Barnett started the 2016 season opener against USC and saw action in three games at Alabama — completing 11 of 19 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns — before being supplanted by Jalen Hurts, who then lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa.
Then, as a backup to Manny Wilkins with the Sun Devils in 2017, Barnett played just two games, going 3-for-5 for 60 yards and an interception. With Wilkins still at Arizona State, Barnett decided to move to South Florida as a graduate transfer and impressed Strong, the then-second-year coach, so much to start him over two quarterbacks with experience in the system.
The pro-style quarterback didn’t wow many people in the Sunshine State in 2018. He threw for 2,705 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, completing 61.1 percent of his passes as the University of South Florida Bulls went 7-6.
The following season in 2019, Barnett lost his starting job to freshman Jordan McCloud. He threw for 434 yards in four games, throwing four touchdowns and two interceptions while completing just 51.9 percent of his passes. That finish to his NCAA career, plus a season-ending ankle surgery in October 2019, doesn’t bode well for Barnett’s NFL hopes.
Blake Barnett Now
Barnett graduated from USF’s Muma College of Business and shares a young son with his wife, Madeline Barnett. He also thanked Coach Strong in 2019 for giving him a chance to continue his career.
“Thank you for taking a chance on me. I will always appreciate the opportunity that I was given and I wish you nothing but the best! @CoachStrong_USF,” he wrote on Twitter.
The former Alabama quarterback has spent the better part of 2020 rehabbing and lifting weights, and he’s still throwing passes. He was gearing up to take part in USF’s Pro Day in March 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak ruined that.
Judging from this 620-pound lift, I’d say Barnett still has plans to play football somewhere.
Only time will tell if Barnett will ever play professionally, whether that be in the NFL, XFL or in Canada. Those who forgot about the pro-style quarterback might want to keep tabs on Barnett, because he was once a star coming out of Santiago High School in Corona, California, years ago.