ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michael Barrett’s versatility will become his best asset when he joins the Michigan football team.
Barrett played quarterback for two years at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga., passing for 4,640 yards and 45 touchdowns and running for another 2,647 yards and 38 touchdowns. But Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh sees Barrett, a 5-foot-11½, 215-pound, 3-star athlete, at another position on the field: wide receiver.
“Michael Barrett is the 7A player of the year in the state of Georgia,” Harbaugh said on his weekly podcast in February. “Another quarterback in high school. I project him as a guy we can make a receiver out of, similar to Anquan Boldin when Anquan was a high school quarterback.”
Lowndes coach Randy McPherson said Barrett’s intelligence and his confidence will also help him transition into a versatile college player. Land of 10 caught up with McPherson to find out what he believes Barrett will bring to the Wolverines when he joins the program this summer as part of its incoming freshman class.
Q. What do you think will help Michael stand out in college?
McPherson: I think the main thing that’s going to help Michael is how hard he’s worked to get where he’s at, both on and off the field, and academically. He has prepared himself to be successful. He has worked tremendously hard in the weight room, with speed work and agility work, and he has also worked very hard in the classroom. He’s over a 3.5 in his GPA. Michael would be a really good college student without football.
Q. When did you first meet Michael? What stood out to you about him?
McPherson: I met him when he was in middle school. You could tell he was an athlete who could play multiple positions. You could tell right away that he was a leader on the field. All the kids wanted to be like him. One thing I didn’t mention is how humble he is. He’s never looked at himself as being better than the people he’s around. He’s a terrific leader. He was a three-year starter at Lowndes, and a two-year starter at quarterback. He started at linebacker his sophomore year, then played quarterback the next two years.
Q. What was Michael like as a football player in the ninth grade, and how has he evolved into a college football prospect?
McPherson: He was on the ninth-grade team. He played some varsity at the end of the year as a freshman but wasn’t a starter. He skipped playing junior varsity. When we put him in at varsity as a ninth grader, we used him on special teams and it was like he’d already been out there. He has no fear. No nerves. He’s a very confident young man.
Q. How has that confidence helped him?
McPherson: It’s helped him tremendously to become a college football player. He has made so many plays for us. The reason he made those plays is that he just plays the game. He loves the game. He’s not worried. He’s not nervous. We’ve played in front of a lot of big crowds there and when he gets into a game at Michigan, that 109,000 in the stadium won’t feel different than the 13,000 we had at Lowndes.
Q. How do you see him fitting into Michigan’s program?
McPherson: I don’t coach at Michigan, but the first thing I’d do is give him a shot to play at quarterback, and he’d go from there. He’d definitely be on the offensive side of the ball. If quarterback didn’t work out, he’d be at running back, but again, I’m not a coach at Michigan.
Q. Is there a Michael Barrett moment that stands out to you? A defining play, or something he did away from football?
McPherson: I’m trying to think … He made so many plays that it’s hard to pick out just one. There was a long touchdown run his junior year at Norcross. He took the ball up the middle for about 65 yards, and after he did that, it pulled us ahead. It was such a great play. It sent the message that we were going to win the game. We won the game, but I can’t remember the score.
Q. Did Michigan’s coaches discuss with you what they liked about Michael?
McPherson: The guy who recruits our school, [safeties coach] Chris Partridge is here all the time. Jim Harbaugh came twice over the last couple years and I think Harbaugh’s personality and the way he does business is the reason Michael chose Michigan. They liked Michael and kept talking about, “there’s so many different things we could do with Michael, but we’re not sure what to do with him.” They liked the size, the strength, the smarts, the character. Kids like him don’t come along very often.
Q. What will help Michael succeed in college?
McPherson: The fact that he’s been so successful here and he’s been a leader here for us, I think those experiences here and the way he’s been coached is going to help him at Michigan, without a doubt.