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Why Julian Barnett chose Michigan State
Upon committing, many recruits have a list of talking points ready to go explaining why they selected their program. When asked why Michigan State stood out, though, Julian Barnett paused.
“Hmm, I’ve got to think about that,” the Belleville (Mich.) junior eventually said. “It’s so many reasons. I like Michigan State. They recruit hard. When you go up to the games, they treat you like that’s your home. I thought of that as my home.”
So Barnett, a 4-star cornerback (and possible wide receiver) in the 247Sports composite ratings, shared the news of his verbal commitment to Michigan State on Friday. His choice gave the Spartans a trio of 2019 commits, all 4-star in-state recruits: Barnett, Oak Park quarterback Dwan Mathis and Walled Lake Western tackle Spencer Brown.
— Julian Barnett (@_OfficialJB1) December 22, 2017
The timing of Barnett’s announcement, which came on the final day of the early signing period for the class ahead of his, surprised even him. Still, that didn’t make it a rash decision.
“I had it in mind for a while,” he said. “I didn’t think it would come this fast, but I felt like it was time. It was time to make a decision.”
He chose the program that felt like family — and it wasn’t just the coaches that did so. His Belleville teammate, 3-star cornerback Davion Williams, signed with the Spartans on Wednesday. Should Barnett follow and sign, they could be staples of the Michigan State secondary for years to come.
Barnett and Williams already had been teammates but saw their relationship strengthen before the start of the 2017 season. That’s when they realized a marriage between Williams’ uncle and Barnett’s aunt made them cousins.
“We’d been talking a lot and stuff like that early on in the process,” Barnett said. “And then football brought us even closer.”
The 6-foot-2 standout has a connection on the other side of the ball as well. If he lines up at receiver, he’d get a chance to play pitch-and-catch with Mathis, his longtime best friend. They played together in youth leagues and went to school together through their freshman year.
It all depends where Michigan State sees Barnett fitting in. He started as a wide receiver recruit before his coach, defensive back guru Jermain Crowell, went to work converting him. His future position won’t be decided for a while.
“They’re trying to get a feel on each side of the ball where I could play faster,” Barnett said of the Michigan State coaches. “They’re talking about maybe playing both sides. I don’t have a preference of what side of the ball I play.”
Either way, he’s a rare talent ranked 59th among all prospects in his class. A lot could change before the final rankings come in, but Michigan State has not signed a higher-ranked player since Malik McDowell in 2014.
And as good as it must have felt for Michigan State to reel him in, the decision was just as satisfying for Barnett.
“It feels good,” he said. “It feels great, actually.”
The calls won’t soon stop. Barnett landed an Ohio State offer on Thursday, adding to a list of more than 20. But with a decision made, he plans to begin turning his focus elsewhere.
“I’m going back to what I was doing: working out and hitting the books,” he said.
Spartans offer 4-star RB
Michigan State has not taken much of a break this holiday season. The Spartans arrived in San Diego on Friday ahead of their Holiday Bowl battle on Dec. 28 and practiced on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The 5-11 standout adds Michigan State to his long offer list, which includes Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas. Playing for a powerhouse high school program, Glass has rushed for 3,000 yards through his junior season.
Michigan State has not landed any out-of-state recruits in the 2019 class.