TN Mr. Football talks recruiting

Prior to the 2012 football season, Derek Barnett was not a household name to recruiting fanatics. The Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy class of 2014 prospect picked up a Duke offer over the summer but continued to fly under the radar heading into the fall. Then a dominating season was followed by a Mr. Football award and Barnett officially arrived on the recruiting scene.

Derek Barnett helped his team to a 9-3 record in 2012.

Since that Mr. Football award, Barnett has landed offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. More could soon be on the way.

As a 6-3, 260-pound two-way threat, Barnett can project to defensive end, tight end or defensive tackle on the college level. Currently though, tight end is where he sees himself doing the most damage.

“I just think it’s hard for me to get tackled,” Barnett said. “I play aggressive and I run hard so I just think tight end is my best position right now.”

Though he’s feeling most confident at tight end, Barnett is open to playing any position on the next level and colleges are actively recruiting him on both sides of the ball. Among his offers, Barnett has a few schools that are already standing out.

“Vandy and UT are sticking out,” he said. “I like what Butch Jones and his staff are doing over there and Coach (Wesley) McGriff at Ole Miss, they got a good recruiting class this year. That’s appealing. I like to play with the best so I like that.

“Tennessee recruited me a little bit at Cincinnati, maybe a couple of weeks before the coaching change and then when they came over, they saw my film and offered me.

“I talk to Coach (John) Donovan and Coach (James) Franklin and they’re just on the uprise. They’re doing better every year and they’re going to bowl games and you get good academics so it’s a win-win. You go there and you don’t go to the NFL, you still get good academics.”

Vanderbilt’s recent success has added to his interest in the Commodores.

“They’re competing in the SEC and they’re winning more games each year and that’s the best conference in the country,” he said.

In addition to the schools that have offered, South Carolina, Florida State and Ohio State are all programs that he has eyed to add to his list. With Ohio State, the interest has risen since Urban Meyer learned that Barnett has a Buckeye family connection.

“Ohio State came by and they’ve been recruiting me since they heard my grandpa played for them. I think they’ll offer me, they just want me to come down to their camp this summer.”

Florida State got some added interest from Barnett when teammate Jalen Ramsey signed with the Seminoles in the 2013 class. An added assistant coach in the offseason also helped the Florida State cause.

“Jalen is one reason (for the interest) and so is the DB coach (Jeremy) Pruitt. He was recruiting me at Alabama so when he transferred over to FSU he came back and said they’re still going to be recruiting me.”

With South Carolina, Barnett is communicating with Steve Spurrier Jr. and feels that an offer could be in the works this spring. He hopes to visit in the near future.

“South Carolina produces good defensive linemen so I just want to work with the best and compete against the best.”

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