After A Whirlwind Year, Blake Barnett Is Prepared To Take Charge At South Florida
Blake Barnett totaled more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2018 despite missing two games and playing injured in others. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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To say 2018 came and went at a dizzying pace would understate the reality for Blake Barnett.
Barnett and his wife, Maddie, welcomed son Brooks into the world in March. In May, the California native crossed the country to enroll at the University of South Florida as a graduate transfer. Three months later he was among a trio of quarterbacks battling to become the Bulls’ starter, a competition from which he emerged on top with about a week to go in preseason camp.
Heading into the 2019 season Barnett is not only the unquestioned starting quarterback, but there is no comparing his level of comfort from a year ago.
“I am more comfortable in my surroundings as far as with my team because I know I am better, I know how they play on the field, I know how they react when they are upset,” he said. “But I am not comfortable in terms of feeling lackadaisical, by any means. This is the first camp I have gone into where I am the starter, so I have tried to stay persistent in competing every rep, making sure that I do the best that I can to help this offense.”
The 23-year-old native of Corona, Calif. is doing his best off the field as well. He and Maddie, who rode the waves off the Jersey Shore to a competitive surfing career, are raising their son in a community they have embraced and within which they feel right at home.
“Absolutely great,” Barnett said when asked about how he and his family have adjusted to the Sunshine State. “The Tampa community has been very welcoming. We feel very welcome here and Tampa is home.”
A welcome sight to coach Charlie Strong is a bigger quarterback who is demonstrating his leadership skills after merely trying to find his way a year ago.
“When Blake came into the program last year he was just trying to feel out everything and just see where he actually fit,” said Strong, entering his third season at USF. “This year you can see his leadership and how he has taken on the team and how he is looking for the team to build. He has gotten bigger and stronger and he has developed into the team leader.”