Jalin Barnett committed to the Huskers on Jan. 14, becoming the 16th member of the 2015 class.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is from Lawton, Oklahoma, and chose Nebraska over Oklahoma State. Other top offers included Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon State, North Texas, Stanford, Texas Tech and Texas State, according to 247Sports.
Barnett is the third offensive lineman in the class, joining Michael Decker and Christian Gaylord. He will also become the first Husker player to sign from the state of Oklahoma since Chad Roark in 2006.
An Under Armour All-American, unanimous four-star and a top-100 prospect according to ESPN and 247Sports, Barnett’s also a big recruiting whale landed for new NU coach Mike Riley and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh.
And Riley and Cavanaugh are the primary reasons Barnett even considered Nebraska, The World-Herald's Sam McKewon reported. The Huskers’ previous staff hadn’t offered. Hadn’t shown interest. Despite Barnett's high school coach, Randy Breeze, sending legendary offensive lineman Will Shields and safety Mike Minter to Lincoln, NU didn’t have an in with Breeze for many years.
But Riley and Cavanaugh kept in touch while at Oregon State. Two Beavers — Jabral Johnson and Tyrequek Zimmerman — went to Lawton High. Barnett had planned to take an official visit to Corvallis until Riley moved to Nebraska. So he took the visit to Lincoln. And liked it, Breeze said. And he loved the coaches. He told them Wednesday — just before the end of the dead period — that he’d picked Nebraska over a glut of top offers.
Barnett, who visited Nebraska on Dec. 13, is a giant house and nimble for his size, according to Sam McKewon.
“He’s a big man who can dominate a defensive tackle across from him,” Breeze said of Barnett. “But what separates him is his ability to get off that tackle and get upfield and block that linebacker.”
A mauler who’d fit in beautifully on the right side of a line, McKewon said, Barnett’s highlight film shows a player comfortable with pulling, too.
Barnett was named to the All-Oklahoma first team last season by the Tulsa World, the only repeat selection from last year’s World All-State first team. The Under Armour All-America selection helped the 11-2 Wolverines reach the 6AII state title game, a 35-21 Lawton loss.
ESPN ranks Barnett as the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation, while he comes in at No. 6 by Scout and 247 Sports and No. 7 by Rivals. ESPN also ranks him the highest among all positions, at No. 43, while Scout lists him at No. 84, 247 Sports at 68 and Rivals at 138.
ESPN's Recruiting Nation profile (subscribers only) describes Barnett as a massive player with a "powerful punch," but indicates Barnett still needs to improve on his hand work.
"Barnett is a big, tough, versatile and athletic offensive lineman who will likely slide inside to guard at the next level," ESPN's profile notes. "A high-effort lineman who is a force in the trenches with the ability to develop into a similar presence in college if he can continue to get stronger and more agile."
In an interview with Husker Online, the Nebraska-focused Rivals site, Lawton offensive coordinator Ryan Breeze said Barnett's connection with Husker coach Mike Riley's Oregon State staff was a major factor in his decision.
"I think the biggest deal was that Coach Riley and Coach (Mike Cavanaugh) were the first school to offer him. Oregon State was his first offer and they just stayed on him this whole time. They recruited him since he was a sophomore. I want to say they offered him the spring of his sophomore year."
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Our take: Big man can move! Barnett is the best overall prospect in the class, even if it takes offensive linemen a year or two to really find their groove. Because the Huskers have decent options at guard, Barnett might not exactly blast his way onto the field in 2015. Nebraska’s new offensive line coach, Mike Cavanaugh, seems to have some talents in recruiting.
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