Transfer quarterback wins USF starting job


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Blake Barnett, the one time highly touted, five-star high school recruit, will begin the season as University of South Florida’s starting quarterback.

Bulls head coach Charlie Strong made the announcement on Tuesday during his first game week press conference of the season.

Barnett transferred to USF in May after he did not win the starting QB job at Arizona State.

He missed the entire spring practice period with the Bulls and had to enter the mix with a pair of returning players, poised to earn their first starts.

Barnett showed veteran presence right away, earning the nod over junior Brett Kean and sophomore Chris Oladokun. An impressive feat, having not been exposed to any aspect of the Bulls offense until summer.

“He’s a guy that studied it. He had to catch up,” Strong said. “He’s only had so many practices. He wasn’t here in the spring. He has done a really good job of coming in here and picking it up.”

The road to USF starting quarterback took ironic twists and years to complete for Barnett.

A five-star recruit from Corona, CA, Barnett began the season as Alabama’s starting quarterback. In the Crimson Tide’s 52-6 opening night win over USC, Barnett completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

But Jalen Hurts entered the game and Barnett’s time was cut to almost nothing.

He appeared in two more games for Alabama before leaving the program for junior college.

A fresh start at Arizona State was also short lived as Barnett did not win the starting job. He appeared in two games for the Sun Devils in 2017.

USF players say that Barnett’s arrival did not create friction within the quarterback room, but instead, a bond through competition. Bulls offensive players noted his control of the huddle and athletic ability that did not resonate from watching Barnett in past games.

“He’s really blended with the team well,” wide receiver Tyre McCants said. “He’s gotten down the chemistry with the receivers and the tight ends, just the entire offense.”

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