When Blake Barnett de-committed from Notre Dame in recent weeks, everyone assumed Oregon was the clear frontrunner and his commitment was imminent.
But then the Corona (Calif.) Santiago four-star quarterback scheduled a surprise visit to Alabama, fell in love with the place and on Wednesday morning he committed to the Crimson Tide.
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"Everybody assumed just because of the offense Blake played in and his skill set (Oregon) would be a natural," Corona Santiago coach Jeff Steinberg said. "That was people. Blake never admitted, he might have said they were No. 1 but he was staying open in terms of taking visits and doing what's best for him.
"There are obviously things we've talked about, there are other people he talks to as well and obviously his parents. It hasn't affected him. He didn't want to let anything out and tell people, he didn't want anybody to misconstrue anything."
Barnett, who recently participated at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour, recently visited Tuscaloosa and was expected to see LSU and Georgia as well but after he tripped to Alabama he cancelled the other two.
That was a clear sign that the Crimson Tide were under serious consideration and his commitment sealed it. Oregon had taken an edge after he backed off his Notre Dame pledge but a late trip to Alabama was what Barnett needed to make his final decision.
Steinberg said Alabama is getting a great quarterback.
"Here is a high school player right now, his passing mechanics and just as a quarterback, when you see someone at the high school level who can make all the throws, that's a huge thing," Steinberg said. "He's very accurate. I know they put some of his throw-in-the-bucket passes on YouTube and the Internet.
"He has a great arm and he's extremely accurate. One thing guys are seeing right now is just his mindset and just how he's wired as an athlete. Everybody in college football at all the great programs they've all been great athletes, they've been all-state. The guys that excel and are able to take it a step further are the guys who are wired a little differently, it's not that they're better athletes, it's their inner drive and work ethic. Blake is one of those guys.
"Guys are seeing that right now when he talks to coaches, when he goes to the camps. It's not something everybody gets to see but it's something people see when you rise to the top or you don't. He really has not got caught up in all this. I think the world of him being able to hit the brakes. It's not that Notre Dame is a bad school, it's an awesome school. Maybe he just committed a little too early."
Adam Gorney is a West Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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