October 6, 2008

JUCO QB talks recruiting

Palatine (IL) Harper J.C. quarterback Garrett Barnas received his first scholarship offer in August from Syracuse University. Now after holding the offer for over a month now CuseConfidential caught up with Barnas to see how he still feels about the Orange.

"My feelings have not change at all about the program since I was offered a scholarship back in August. I've had a chance to watch a couple games and listen to commentary. It all seems to point to a storied program that continues to struggle amid talent and determination. Programs like this usually need just a few key elements changed to start winning games consistently. I cannot help but think I could be one of these elements."

Barnas, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds had a solid freshman season and the three star prospect is continuing his success into his sophomore season. With the fine play over the past year have any other schools been showing interest in Barnas?

"Most players have much longer lists. From the very beginning of this process I was only interested in a few schools Syracuse and South Florida for academic reasons and Iowa. South Florida has arguably one of the best quarterback coaches in the country in Greg Gregory. That's a plus. They are in a 'wait and see' mode because a very talented player in B.J. Daniels was signed. Iowa wants me to play a defensive back position, but has not offered yet."

The JUCO prospect understands the risks involved for a school recruiting him because he will not have the full compliment of years, but he thinks that he is worth the risk?

"The fact that I'm a JC player with defensive back skills but currently playing quarterback puts me in an uncertain position at the next level - not in my eyes, but rather the school's. Most coaches see my athleticism, but at quarterback they typically want a kid in their program 4-5 years. That's understandable. My abilities mesh well with a program in transition that will need a player for 2-3 years who has taken snaps and has had college success. Taking me means taking a risk. I think the risk is justified for some programs. Syracuse has expressed interest and looks to be such a program."

On his visit to Syracuse in August Barnas was very impressed with the school, but that was not the only thing that caught his eye.

"What I also like about Syracuse is it has a recognized all-around program that includes basketball, lacrosse and even up and coming women's programs. It's always nice to be a part of an overall winning institution. It has a way of energizing students, as well as the alumni with whom the students will need to network. Winning is good for everyone involved."

Right now in Syracuse the football season is not turning out as planned by Greg Robinson and his staff . The slow start by the Orange has Robinson on the "hot seat" and this could cause a problem in their recruiting efforts. Barnas knows that football is a business and where ever he goes he will be playing for a new coach. Would a coaching change make Barnas think twice about the Orange?

"In some ways it would, but that's part of life. Coaches Robinson, Browning and Jackson have been professionals in their pursuit. They see things in me that, if nurtured, will help the program as a whole. One can't help but be partial. That being said, I don't stand in judgment of any administration that sees the need to make a change. Next year I will be playing for a new coach within a new system regardless. One might say that a new staff at Syracuse puts a player like me on a level playing field, where all prior arrangements and previous promises made are reduced to memory. In 2009 everyone may start from scratch and each player's performance will stand on its own merits. I simply can't ask for more than that coming out of JUCO. I am confident in my abilities and like those head-to-head odds."

Even though the seat is hot for Robinson he still keeps in contact with Barnas and he tells the prospect about the upcoming schedule at Syracuse. It is those future games that Barnas likes because he is not interested in playing lesser opponents.

"I continue to receive emails from Coach Robinson, mostly about what the school has to offer and luring me with strength of schedule. Competitors want to play the best. In that respect, Syracuse has done an outstanding job of lining up top competition. That is definitely a draw. I hate playing lollipops for the sake of padding the win column. When you win, you should be beating the best you can schedule. When you lose, you should lose to superior teams."

When the Illinois product first visited Syracuse it was on unofficial visits. Now even though he has an offer in hand he does not feel the need to take an official visit at this time. If there are changes at Syracuse in the near future he could take one.

"No. I have been to the school twice. I've had adequate time to assess their offering. Some kids' self-worth is wrapped up in making visits and showcasing offers. I do not see a need for Syracuse to spend any more money in this recruiting process, unless Dr. Gross makes a coaching change mid-season. In that case, I might respectfully request to meet with the new staff to discuss their coaching philosophy and initial plans for the program's resurgence and how they would see me engaged within those plans. If I attend Syracuse, I would be going there with every intention of competing, playing and winning…and ultimately, graduating with knowledge in my field of interest and the knowledge that the school was better off for having given me an opportunity - an opportunity the likes of which most kids only dream about."

With no visits scheduled and one offer in hand a decision is still months away, but Barnas does have a time frame for when he wants to decide.

"My decision will be at the end of my season. I would like to think that no one would hold it against me to wait given an apparent shift in leadership at Syracuse and the high likelihood a new staff will make changes on both sides of the ball. I am best suited for a Spread-Option/Wide-open/Dual-Threat/Keeping-Everybody-Honest system that let's me air it out, hand it off or call my own number as the situation demands. South Florida has that already and Syracuse has expressed to me a desire to go in that direction. Each has a compliment of young talented players that I would be honored to lead if I were to compete well and earn a starting role."

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