- Erik McKinney, RecruitingNation
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Quarterback Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif./Santiago) burst onto the scene during a terrific junior season.
It's safe to say the 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller is still gaining speed.
On Sunday, Barnett was named MVP of the first Elite 11 Regional event, held at Santa Monica (Calif.) College.
"It was an awesome experience, coming out and competing with some of the greatest quarterbacks in the nation at the high school level," Barnett said. "It was great to come out and show what we all have, and to come away with the award."
Barnett said keeping an even keel proved to be a key.
"The fact that I maintained composure was my best attribute," Barnett said. "If I threw a bad ball, I'd stay composed and come back with a good throw on the next one."
With the MVP award, Barnett earned an invitation to the Elite 11 Finals as well as The Opening, to be held this summer in Beaverton, Ore. Barnett, who committed to Notre Dame in late November, is the No. 64 player in the nation and No. 3 dual-threat quarterback. He said he has had his eye on this event for a few weeks.
"I always wanted to come out here and compete," Barnett said. "I knew the top guys would be out here and I wanted to show what I had and compete with them."
The award and his performance is another example of Barnett belonging among the nation's top quarterbacks this year. While he was somewhat late to the game after not participating in camps or the 7-on-7 circuit this past spring and summer, Barnett will be in the forefront of the discussion this year.
"When I got the Notre Dame offer and committed, that helped," Barnett said of earning national attention. "And this should probably help as well."
On the recruiting front, Barnett has maintained ever since his commitment that nothing will shake his decision to attend Notre Dame.
Jones is wide open
One of six finalists selected for the "pressure chamber" -- the event's final drill where quarterbacks are asked to make a handful of throws in quick succession under pressure -- was ESPN 300 quarterback Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde). The dual-threat signal-caller holds offers from Akron, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, but is only just beginning the recruiting process.
The nation's No. 144 overall prospect and No. 6 dual-threat quarterback said this spring will be all about establishing and maintaining relationships with coaches.
"Coaches can't call regularly until September, so I'm trying to get in touch with every coach I can," Jones said. "I'm making sure I keep contact because if I lose contact, they'll start up with somebody else."
Jones expects a few other schools to get into the mix soon, as the Washington and Boise State staffs -- now at USC and Washington, respectively -- were regularly in touch with him. Texas A&M also has expressed interest.
"I think Coach Sark [Steve Sarkisian] might be getting ready to offer," Jones said.
This past season, Jones attended games at Arizona State, UCLA and USC. He said he'd like to make several visits this spring, though he maintains there are no leaders and no particular school stands out.
Davidson is a '16 standout
While the 2015 quarterback class is loaded, Kevin Davidson (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley), K.J. Costello (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) and Dakota Miller (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills) proved that the 2016 class will be one to watch as well.
Davidson, who now checks in at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, went throw for throw with many of the seniors-to-be and wasn't at all intimidated by the older quarterbacks.
"It was awesome," Davidson said. "I've been down in Phoenix training with Blake Barnett, so it was great to come throw with all of them."
Davidson has received mail from a number of schools and said he hopes to make several visits this spring. Though he doesn't have a fixed schedule yet, there's one school he knows will be included.
"I'm definitely going to Georgia," Davidson said. "They came to my school last year to watch me throw and I was supposed to go visit them, but things got too busy."
Davidson said Stanford and USC are also on the list of schools he'd like to visit.
"I really like the new coaching staff at USC," Davidson said. "I went up to camp with Coach Tui [Marques Tuiasosopo] and Sark and it was really good. I'm going to call them pretty soon."
Kearns planning trips
2015 ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Kearns (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill) is still looking for his first offer, but the nation's No. 195 overall prospect put on a show during the final pressure chamber drill. Kearns said he was told by the Elite 11 coaches that he finished among the top three quarterbacks at the event.
"I thought I did well," Kearns said. "Competing with the guys all day, I thought I put my best foot forward and was there at the top of the list."
Kearns is focused on competing with the best this spring and summer, as he'll be attending camps and 7-on-7 tournaments across the region. He's also looking into taking trips this spring and summer, with a few destinations already in mind. Kearns said Michigan, Tennessee and Vanderbilt are toward the top of his list in terms of schools to see.
"I've been in contact with a lot of schools," Kearns said. "I'm just trying to find the right school that comes along and wants me as much as I want them. I just want that opportunity to play at the next level."
Six finalists selected
Joining Barnett, Jones and Kearns in the final drill were 2015 ESPN 300 quarterback and Alabama commit Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), 2015 ESPN quarterback Brady White (Newhall, Calif./Hart) and Brian Lewerke (Phoenix/Pinnacle).
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Quarterback Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif./Santiago) burst onto the scene during a terrific junior season.It's safe to say the 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller is still gaining speed.