June 12, 2009

Barnhill a surprise at Rebels' football camp

On Tuesday afternoon, several quarterbacks and wide receivers went inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to perform under the watchful eyes of Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and offensive coordinator Kent Austin.

Zach Lee was there. So was Michael Strauss and Stephen Morris.

However, one of the quarterbacks who showed the most potential and turned the coaches' heads was a tall Texan who has flown underneath the recruiting radar. That's understandable, however, given that Taylor Barnhill has yet to start a high school game at quarterback.

Barnhill, a 6-foot-4, 204-pounder from Justin (Northwest), Texas, had a strong week at Ole Miss' football camp this week, putting himself in the mix to be the one quarterback the Rebels sign in February.

"It went really well," said Barnhill, who was making his second visit to the Ole Miss campus. "I loved it. I love Ole Miss. The campus was pretty. I have pretty good relationships with all of the coaches. It was nice. I like it there a lot.

"I came in with a low interest level from the school. When I left, they said they like me a lot. They said I'm one of three they're looking at, along with the guy from Orlando (Blake Bortles) and the guy from Memphis (Barry Brunetti).

"They like my technique a lot," Barnhill said. "They really stressed me finishing my throw, bending my knee to get more torque and velocity on it. They liked everything else. They said my drop looked good.

"I knew I always had it. I just have to show it to people. It built my confidence a lot. I just haven't had a chance to show it in games on Friday night."

Barnhill will be the starting quarterback this fall, culminating a long climb to the position, one that has been besieged by setbacks.

"It's been real frustrating," Barnhill said. "My sophomore year I had a pretty serious injury to my elbow that cost me much of my season. My junior year, I was competing for the starting job and I broke my hand playing receiver in a scrimmage. That kind of set me back. This year, I finally get to start and I'm the man. I'm looking forward to it a lot.

As a receiver last season at the Class 5A school, Barnhill caught 14 passes for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

All in the family: Barnhill's sister, Brittany Barnhill, was a standout pitcher as a freshman for the University of Texas' softball team. She has already announced her intention to transfer from Texas, and Ole Miss is one of a small handful of programs she is considering.

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