Blake Barnett expected to be USF’s opening night starter

USF quarterback Blake Barnett (11), an Arizona State transfer, joined Bulls veterans Brett Kean (7) and Chris Oladokun (10) in Friday evening's workout in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 3, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
USF quarterback Blake Barnett (11), an Arizona State transfer, joined Bulls veterans Brett Kean (7) and Chris Oladokun (10) in Friday evening's workout in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 3, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published August 23 2018
Updated August 23 2018

Graduate transfer QB Blake Barnett has been informed he'll start USF's season opener against Elon a week from Saturday, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Spectrum Sports first reported the news early Thursday evening. Barnett led the opening drive of the final closed scrimmage of preseason camp Wednesday, according to an online report on the program's official website.

He had spent the preseason sharing first-team reps with Bulls fourth-year junior Brett Kean and third-year sophomore Chris Oladokun. After Wednesday's scrimmage, Coach Charlie Strong told reporters no decision on a starter had been made.

"They've done a really good job and they respect one another," Strong said.

"When you look at it, each day one of them is running (with the first team), like this guy gets to start off with the ones, then the next…so they've been given enough reps and it's been evenly distributed. So now it's about us. Now we've got to go make a decision on what guy it's gonna be."

A former consensus five-star recruit from Corona, Calif., Barnett (6-foot-5, 217 pounds) joined USF in May from Arizona State, where he appeared in four games and attempted five passes in 2017.

The year before, as a redshirt freshman at Alabama, he was named opening night starter against Southern California, but was replaced by Jalen Hurts in the first half. He transferred shortly thereafter.

His career totals as a collegian: 14-for-24, 259 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Yet he has brandished mobility belying his lanky frame during limited practice windows open to reporters this month.

He becomes the first quarterback not named Quinton Flowers to start a game for USF since Nov. 28, 2014.

"I think I've been picking (USF's offense) up pretty quick," Barnett said following Saturday's scrimmage, when he led three TD drives. "Everyone's had a fair shot, everyone's had equal reps. We're just all trying to apply ourselves and do as best we can to make this team productive."

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