During the prep football media conclave hosted by Bravado Wireless with the Phoenix staff taking part in, I got some nice insight into the mind of one Jacob Barrett.
Football season isn’t yet upon us — practices don’t begin until Aug. 12 and the season kicks off Aug. 29-30 with Zero Week games — but Barrett has already become the first area kid to make a major college football commitment.
Part of what sold him should be duly noted by anyone on the recruiting trail.
First, some background.
Barrett is a humble guy. He’s also smart.
When he got to Checotah following his sophomore season, Barrett had quarterback pedigree dating back to his early elementary days and his last season at Okmulgee. At Checotah, Cade Shropshire was in the top spot on the depth chart there and entrenched.
Barrett heard this and quickly told Checotah head coach Chad Hendricks he’d be more than happy to play receiver.
“Cade was really good,” he recalled realizing. “So I was happy to do it.”
Remember, I said Barrett was smart too. Wise to the world of next-level football.
He’s 6-foot-1. And as skilled as he is at the quarterback position — a quick and smooth release, the athletic ability to make plays out of nothing and get rid of the ball with accuracy on the run — he lacks what most college scouts believe to be two to four inches of height to be the ideal college quarterback.
So he went to receiver and totaled 56 catches, 11 touchdowns and 941 yards of real estate in 10 games.
Eastern Michigan took note and brought him in for a visit this summer.
“They offered five at wide receiver and were only taking four. When I went on my official visit there were four of us who were receivers and every one of us committed,” he said.
In a little over a week when fall preseason drills begin, instead of honing those skills at receiver, Barrett will be back at quarterback.
Shropshire is headed for college as a two-time state champion in that sport, and Brendan Dan, three years the junior sibling of New Mexico State receiver Drew Dan, is setting preseason basketball work aside to come out and play receiver for the first time since junior high.
The team player who stepped aside at quarterback will again do what the team needs.
Army, Navy, Air Force, Missouri State, East Central, Central Oklahoma, Western Illinois, Northern Iowa and Tulsa also made offers, some for his skills as a defensive back.
The difference-maker for Eastern Michigan?
Well, there is the possibility of starting next year due to two receivers on the roster.
But this was stressed in our chat.
“I liked the family culture,” he first told me.
Yeah but hey, wait. I’ve been down this road before with dozens upon dozens of kids who talked about family culture, how it felt like home when they were there, how they sensed a brotherhood.
I told him that wasn’t enough.
“That’s all true,” he said. “But with Eastern Michigan, they texted me every day. I had full conversations about stuff other than about football after I committed. I felt they cared more for me as a person and about me becoming a man. Most schools would talk to me some, but not nearly as much as Eastern Michigan.”
He had a nose for how much they really cared about a person, not just a football commodity. Over time, that connected and took root.
Of course, being outside the rich guys in the Power 5, Eastern Michigan should know, fair or not, they have to try harder.
Now, verbal commitments are never binding, at least until the December signing period, the first of two. Barrett may run and throw for over 1,500 yards each, but he won’t catch his own tosses. Yet while a bigger school could see his athleticism and start sending loving tweets, it’s a good bet this guy has already been sold on where he’ll mold not just as a college receiver, but as a man.
Good for him.
Good for Eastern Michigan.