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FOOTBALL: Barnett officially signs with Alabama

FOOTBALL: Barnett officially signs with Alabama



 Santiago QB Blake Barnett, flanked by father Lance Barnett and stepmother Debbie Barnett, and with Coach Jeff Steinberg close by, signs his Alabama paperwork.    

On Friday morning, Corona Santiago senior quarterback Blake Barnett signed his financial aid paperwork and committed to the University of Alabama in front of teammates, coaches, family and friends during a ceremony in the Sharks’ weight room.

“This isn’t really part of the early signing period,’’ Santiago coach Jeff Steinberg said. “This isn’t part of the national letter of intent program.

“It’s something different that is offered through the NCAA by the university as a reward for the kids that are going to graduate early as assurance of a scholarship.’’

Barnett, who two years ago was barely a blip on the national recruiting radar, has come a long way in a short time to prove his mettle and ability to Coach Nick Sabanand the Alabama Crimson Tide, one of the most storied college football programs in the country.

“Obviously, the biggest part is waiting to get out there officially,’’ Barnett said. “But this is the biggest step forward on the road to there.

“It’s definitely been the big part of my life and it’s nice to see all the hard work paying off, and signing this paper is making that official.”

Following what seems to be a trend for high school athletes, Barnett began plotting his path to an early graduation date once he started receiving scholarship offers.

“I started planning ahead, hoping that I could play college football,” Barnett said. “And, it’s nice that it’s in full effect right now.’’

Along the way, Barnett has navigated through bumps in the road and shown himself to be a good five-star pick for any college or university.

After decommitting from Notre Dame in January, Barnett committed to the Crimson Tide. In that moment, Barnett showed his poise and handled the situation in a mature and responsible manner.

“Over time (Blake) felt maybe that wasn’t the best situation for him and that he rushed it,’’ Barnett’s father, Lance Barnett, said.

“We try to guide him in the right direction and he’s made some great decisions himself.”

Over the summer, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Barnett got invited to the Elite 11, a quarterback camp competition for the nation’s top high school senior quarterbacks. Barnett threw a tournament-best 13 touchdowns, impressing coaches with his athleticism and accuracy and won the most valuable player award.

In 2014, Barnett has passed for 1,340 yards and eight touchdown and rushed for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns for the Sharks (3-2).

“Blake is a great story of a kid that had a goal and didn’t listen to outside influences,’’ Lance Barnett said. “He kept on top of his goals and worked hard.


“And, he always believed.”

Since changing his commitment, Barnett has not wavered and Friday’s signing ceremony marked a big step in his relationship with the 15-time national champion Alabama program and Coach Saban, who has guided the Tide to three national titles.

“There is no book when it comes to this,” Lance Barnett said. “We probably could have done some things a little differently but we try to think about what he’s (Blake) doing and we always let him have the final decision.”

Barnett’s transition to college football is not unusual but the fact that a West Coast dual-threat quarterback could find a scholarship at a Southeastern Conference school is.

Remarkably, Barnett, along with Moreno Valley Rancho Verde quarterback Sheriron Jones, who has committed to Florida, are two Inland area quarterbacks committed to SEC schools in 2015.

Moreover, Barnett’s impending December graduation from Santiago and January enrollment at Alabama marks the fourth time under Coach Jeff Steinberg that a Sharks player has left early for college and football.

Steinberg said quarterback Brandon Connette, who is playing as a graduate student at Fresno State, and his brother, junior safety Simon Connette of San Jose State, along with 2013 graduate and UCLA defensive back Ron Robinson all left early to get a jump on college football.

“They are all cut from the same cloth,” Steinberg said. “All those kids were very focused guys, team captains and all very good in the classroom.”

With all the praise Steinberg has about Barnett’s football ability, his highest admiration is for the type of person he’s watched him become.

“I met Blake his ninth grade year and I’ve got to know him on another level other than coach and athlete,” Steinberg said. “I’ve gotten to know him and his family and athletics aside I can honestly say this is the kind of kid I’d want my son to be like.”