Northmont High School’s blue-chip football star, C. J. Barnett, that he
will never play organized basketball or run track again following this
spring. While the junior notes that reality with a tinge of regret, he is also
psyched about the exciting opportunities looming in his future – including becoming a Buckeye.
As the 2008 school year winds down it has become obvious to Northmont High School’s blue-chip football star, C. J. Barnett, that he will never play organized basketball or run track again following this spring. While he notes that reality with a tinge of regret, he is also psyched about the exciting opportunities looming in his immediate and his not-so-immediate future.
Barnett will be the cornerback for the GWOC-North champion T-Bolts when they take the field as members of the GWOC-Central in September. They will be playing against some of the biggest and scariest D-I football programs in Ohio: Centerville, Wayne, Beavercreek, Fairmont, and the newly unified Springfield school district.
Check out the roster of your favorite mid-western college football team and see how many of those schools are represented. It might be an enlightening moment for you.
Anyway, it’s a serious upgrade in competition that his ambitious head coach Lance Schneider has been craving for a long time. Soon, we will see if Northmont is up to it.
But this story is about C. J. Barnett and he is one of America’s most highly valued cover corner prospects, and starting in January of 2009 he is going to be an Ohio State Buckeye – full-time.
MVP caught up with Barnett last weekend after he ran in the GWOC track and field championships and got his impressions, on life, school, recruiting, and perhaps most importantly for much of our readership: his relocation plans to Columbus.
MVP: “What events are you covering for the Northmont track team this spring?”
Barnett: “I ran the hurdles last year, but this season I’ve been running a leg in the 400-meter relay. I was also going to run the 100, but I’ve had problems with my start all season so I didn’t even get a time at the GWOC meet. I twitched (false started).
I did finish second in the high jump at the GWOC-North (fifth in the GWOC finals, his PB is 6-foot-0) championship, though. I was surprised by the high jump thing because in practice I really don’t have much time to work on it. I’m just trying to help the team.”
MVP: “What kind of times did you get in practice for the 100-meters?”
Barnett: “I really never did get my start right, so I have no times that I’m happy with really. I ran an 11.2 100-meters last season, and this year I have a 10.4 (and a 10.5) relay split. That should give you an idea of what I can do.”
MVP: “What are your plans for the rest of the summer?”
Barnett: “I’m taking summer school classes (a language arts credit for example), so that I can graduate early. Other than that I’ll be working out a lot trying to get a jump start on football.”
MVP: “Are you planning on reporting to the Ohio State University early? Do you guys stay in touch?”
Barnett: “I’ll graduate early (from Northmont in January) and I will report to Columbus shortly after that. I want to get a head start on things. I want to play next year, if I can. Coach (OSU DB coach Taver) Johnson and Coach (T-Bolt track coach Loren) Meadows are pretty close, so they tend to stay in touch. They know what is going on. I call them, too. Sometimes, I send e-mail.”
MVP: “Last time we talked your grades were outstanding. Do they remain so?”
Barnett: “Yes, sir. That’s my first priority. It always has been.”
MVP: “When was the first time Ohio State approached you seriously?”
Barnett: “They invited me up to see the Northwestern game last fall, and that was the first time I really got a chance to talk with them. They have a room where all of he recruits meet to eat before the game, and stuff, and I met Coach Tressell then—but it was more like a handshake than anything else. We didn’t really talk.”
MVP: “When did you get an official offer?
Barnett: “I got it in the mail right before the holiday break, and I committed at Junior Day (the weekend of the Michigan State game).”
MVP: “Tell me again about the CYO basketball team you coached. That’s a good story and I doubt that our readers have heard it.”
Barnett: “My best friend, Bryson (Cridell) and I used to go to St. Peter when we were in the seventh grade. His little brother Britain (Dickerson) goes there now. To make a long story short we volunteered to be their CYO coaches this year. We really didn’t think it would be very hard, but we were wrong.
“We stole the 1-2-2 zone press we used from Coach (T-Bolt basketball Jim) Brown and we turned a team with a really bad record into a contender. They were pretty rough, but all they really needed was a little attention and some coaching. It was great. The kids won, like, five straight games.”
MVP: “Come on. Tell us the rest of the story.”
Barnett: “They had a Saturday afternoon CYO tournament game, but I had to be in Columbus for Junior Day at Ohio State. That was the day I accepted their scholarship offer. I knew I had to be there. So, I spent the whole afternoon calling back to town to see how they were doing.”
MVP: “The coaches must have thought that you were pretty cool to do that.”
Barnett: “Nah, I don’t think I even told them about it. They have enough on their minds. I wasn’t trying to score points. I just wanted to know how they were doing, and they were doing great.”
MVP: “I love it. It’s hard to let the little devils leave the nest, huh?”
MVP: “Who else contacted you during the recruiting process?”
Barnett: “Stanford, Miami (of Ohio), and Cincinnati all offered. When I went to Michigan’s camp last summer they were very interested in me. The coaches from Toledo and Western Michigan were running some of the drills I was involved in and they were interested, too.
“Michigan invited me back up to Ann Arbor for an open house they were having. My Mom (Drucilla Dickerson) and I got a chance to talk to Lloyd Carr, and he told us that he had a scholarship waiting for me there. Ohio State sent me an offer in the mail, but I never actually saw anything in writing from Michigan, and now coach Carr is retired.”
MVP: “I suppose you could call it that. Being retired is no picnic, I suspect. I hope he is doing well. I have a list of names for you. Listen to the list and afterwards tell me why you think I read them to you: Ortman, McAvay, Schilling, Zirbel, Moosman, Clemmons, Stonum, Mathews, Grady, Minor, and Threet.
“Who are these people?”
Barnett: “(Laughs) are they football players?”
MVP: “Perhaps. No, actually, according to Mr. Bucknuts they are the projected starting lineup for the Wolverine’s offense next year.”
Barnett: “No way.”
Barnett: “I’m aware of the big stuff – like the Michigan rivalry – but I am not up on my Ohio State history yet, although I am sure I will be sometime soon. I know Michigan is rebuilding, and all, but I don’t recognize any of the names on that list you just read me. That’s wild.”
MVP: “Yes, it is. Does it excite you to see the level of talent the Buckeyes have been able to sign in your class?”
Barnett: “Oh, yeah. It is always eye opening to see how you rate. I’m a little surprised and very excited.”
MVP: “What did you think of Darrell Givens (a Maryland cornerback prospect that had verbally committed previously to Ohio State) committing to play at Penn State? Did you know him?”
Barnett: “I’m not in position to judge (him). I met Darrell at the spring game (in Columbus) and he’s a nice guy. I was looking forward to playing with him, but he has to do what is best for him. He wanted to play, I guess. I liked Darrell.”
MVP: “You hear about all of the pressure to get kids to commit, even if they have already made their intentions seemingly clear. What is your experience in that regard?”
Barnett: “I don’t know. They (other coaches) pretty much have left me alone. Everyone knows my plans. I really don’t know what other guys have to put up with.”
MVP: “Coach (T-Bolt DB coach Colin) Abels tells me that you might be taking some reps on offense this year. Is there any truth to that?”
Barnett: “He’s been trying to get them to do that for a long time (laughs). They all know that I can make plays on defense. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that on offense, too. That would be a lot of fun!”
MVP: “What kind of major are you thinking about?”
Barnett: “My Mom and I have spent a lot of time talking about that, and I am thinking about taking pre-law. If the NFL thing doesn’t work out – and how many people does it ever really work out for – then I will have something to fall back on. Even if it does work, I’ll need something to do afterwards. I’d like to be a lawyer.”
MVP: “You are walking into a situation that is chock full of tradition. If someone ‘O-H’d’ you would you know what a gentleman would be expected to do?”
Barnett: “Oh, yeah. I need to work on all of that. I wasn’t really an Ohio State fan when I was growing up – I rooted for Florida State (his hero was Deion Sanders) — but I sure am one now. I know that I have some catching up to do.”