Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy junior defensive end Derek Barnett may have just picked up his first offer, but he's hoping a chance to play in a showcase game on Friday will continue his upward trajectory.
Barnett and his Brentwood Academy teammates will face Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth this week in a nationally televised game. The 2014 defensive end is looking forward to testing himself against one of the best teams in the state.
"I like to play against good players, it gives you a chance to see how good you really are," said Barnett, who was offered by Duke earlier this month. "I want to play college football and that's how you get better."
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The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Barnett has been having a solid junior year playing both at defensive end and tight end. For the year, he has eight sacks, including four in last week's victory over Nashville (Tenn.) Father Ryan.
"I feel like I've been improving every game," Barnett said. "I'm just trying to continue to get better."
In addition to his offer from Duke, Barnett said he's receiving interest from Vanderbilt and Florida, two schools that have seen him play thanks to high profile teammates Jalen Ramsey and Max Staver.
"It does help to have them on my team because schools come watch them," Barnett said. "But I don't care who's watching, I like football and I play aggressively."
Barnett added that having two teammates to lean on for advice about the recruiting process has been beneficial.
"I look up to Jalen and Max," he said. "I see how they're doing and I've learned a lot from them."
As far as the Blue Devils, Barnett said he's planning an unofficial visit to Durham for the team's game against Clemson on Nov. 3.
"They're not known for football but they're a program that's on the way up," Barnett said. "And the academics are really good and that's something important because there is life after football."
When the season ends, Barnett said his main focus will be adding weight to his frame and increasing his speed.
"I'll be in the weight room a lot this offseason," he said. "I also want to get faster. Now if you're a defensive end you need really good speed. I'm going to run track this year as well to try to get my speed up."