How 4-Star QB Blake Barnett Will Impact Lane Kiffin's Career at Alabama

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJune 20, 2014

Alabama OC Lane Kiffin
Alabama OC Lane KiffinUSA TODAY Sports

The rich just keep getting richer.

Alabama has been a recruiting machine over the last four years, winning the recruiting national championship in each of those years.

It got its quarterback of the future this week, as 4-star dual-threat Blake Barnett from Corona, California, committed to the Crimson Tide Wednesday on B/R's Team Stream Now with Adam Lefkoe.

Barnett told Lefkoe:

I think being paired up with good coaches like [offensive coordinator] coach [Lane] Kiffin, he's developed great quarterbacks in the past at USC. I think that can put me at an advantage being with a good coach like that and running a good offense with a good scheme. Hopefully it will bring me to the next level.

There's a little bit of a problem, though. Alabama already got its "quarterback of the future" in 2013 with 4-star Cooper Bateman and again in 2014 with fellow 4-star David Cornwell

But Barnett is different. He's a Kiffin guy brought in by the new offensive coordinator specifically to run his offense.

What offense is that?

That remains to be seen. Kiffin could dial back the creativity a bit and run a more conservative style thanks to the presence of a small village of talented running backs. But where's the fun in that?

Alabama OC Lane Kiffin
Alabama OC Lane KiffinButch Dill/Associated Press

The one thing Kiffin was brought in specifically to do was develop a more creative offensive scheme that can adapt if Alabama finds itself in trouble in games.

"He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level," head coach Nick Saban said in a release when Kiffin was introduced. "He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called."

He was brought in to challenge Saban's philosophies, which is exactly what he can do when Barnett takes the reins.

Let's get this out of the way right now: Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is going to win the quarterback job this year. If he succeeds, then it's reasonable that he could jump to the NFL after his junior season. That would give Barnett the chance to start right away or redshirt. Either way, though, he could play as a freshman in Kiffin's system.

That system should get a boost from Barnett, who's a dual-threat quarterback by trade but really is more of a passer who can run. In other words, he gives Kiffin the option to spice up the offense without changing the fundamental scheme.

As you can see in the video above, he has tremendous arm strength and accuracy downfield. That will allow Alabama to continue to do what it has done throughout the Saban era, taking the top off of a defense that creeps up to stop the run.

But Barnett brings something more. His quick release and accuracy on short and intermediate routes will allow Kiffin to use his full West Coast playbook and incorporate some new-school spread elements with Barnett's legs.

If Coker doesn't revitalize Kiffin's career, the former USC, Tennessee and Oakland Raiders head coach can re-invent himself with Barnett in the talent-rich SEC, which could land him another big-time college head coaching gig in a hurry.

While Alabama's approach to pretty much everything is old school, Barnett can offer a blend. He can bring a new-school, dual-threat approach to an old-school style. On an overly simplistic level, that's exactly why Kiffin was hired.

It's fair to assume that, due to Coker's presence on the roster, Kiffin wasn't thrilled with his quarterback options when he arrived in Tuscaloosa. Or, at the very least, he needed competition to up the ante for all of the contenders.

Barnett is his guy, and he holds the keys to Kiffin's future employment—as long as Kiffin doesn't jump ship in the near future.

If Barnett succeeds, Kiffin's career will rebound. If he fails, the "Lane Kiffin experiment" at Alabama may follow suit.

No pressure, kid.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of, and all stats are courtesy of