Ohio State Football: What You Need to Know About Buckeyes' SS C.J. Barnett
Ohio State had a very good strong safety for a few seasons in Kurt Coleman, who is now a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles even after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Coleman's replacement is a player who is eerily similar to him in playing style. In fact, they both went to the same high school, Clayton Northmont near Dayton, Ohio.
C.J. Barnett was the guy who filled in for Coleman at SS beginning in 2010, and he made a big impact in his second career start, helping deflect a pass into an interception and laying a big hit on Miami WR Leonard Hankerson.
A knee injury cut short his 2010 season, but he started the entire 2011 season at SS.
Barnett is a pure hitter from the safety spot who is not afraid to lay the lumber on unsuspecting opponents at any time. He finished his first full season as a starter with 75 total tackles, 49 of which were solo stops.
Don't think that he's just a one-dimensional safety either. In his 15 starts, he has nine pass deflections, which is tied for the most among the active roster.
Barnett most likely will be joined at the other safety position by junior Christian Bryant, who had been floating around between the corner and safety positions. Bryant has the ability to make some big hits as well.
While Barnett has a pair of interceptions to his name, he certainly should have had a few more as he has a tendency to drop some picks. To be fair, if he caught all of those interceptions, odds are he would be playing some receiver and not safety.
But for a safety like Barnett who can be a very good two-dimensional safety—both pass defense and hitting—he has to be able to reel in those interceptions more often.
The good part is at least he seems to put himself in positions where he has a chance to make the play. Now, it's just a matter of him finishing.
Barnett was a part of the 2009 Ohio State recruiting class that, like the 2008 class, has not lived up to lofty expectations.
Out of the 25 players that signed in 2009, Barnett is one of only nine players in the class that has ever started a game for Ohio State.
In fact, 10 of the 25 have either been kicked off the football team or have transferred.
Barnett, John Simon, Zach Boren and Carlos Hyde are the cornerstones of the class that really should have been so much more than it was.
Barnett certainly is a pretty solid player, with the ability to be a very good strong safety this year.
It took Coleman a little bit of time to find his niche in the Buckeye defense, and Barnett has all the tools to be just as good as his predecessor was.
The key will be if Barnett can finish plays better and if he can hang on to those interceptions. If he does that, Barnett will go from solid starter to difference-maker, and the Buckeye defense always needs a few of those.
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