For Marcus Barnett it has been an up and down four years at the University of Cincinnati. Having been through three coaches and a position change, Barnett is back where he belongs, at wide receiver...and he couldn't be happier.
After redshirting his freshman season under then head coach Mark Dantonio, Barnett emerged in 2007, hauling in 62 passes for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns, earning him second-team all-Big East honors.
He led the team in receiving and was the second among freshman in the country behind a guy named Michael Crabtree.
Due to to thin build at 6'2" and only 175 pounds, he is referred to as "Bones" by teammates and coaches. "Bones" may be more excited than anybody that Butch Jones is now running the show.
After his freshman year expectations were high heading into 2008 for Barnett. His statistics were not as he saw his production drop to 30 receptions and saw himself fall into Coach Kelly's doghouse.
Before 2009 even began, Barnett was told he would be moving to cornerback. While he never publicly complained, the move was not something he was ever excited about.
For a kid with as much skill on the offensive end, moving to defense seemed to make no sense. While he did have a few opportunities on offense, 'Bones' never felt at home all season long and he and Kelly never saw eye to eye.
He finished the season with 10 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown on offense and made two tackles on defense with a pass broken up.
Not quite the season he was looking for after having so much success as a freshman. He thought about transferring and was as frustrated as anybody. Enter Butch Jones.
Jones came in and after two spring practices realized where Barnett needed to be and that was on offense. Even though Cincinnati is deep at receiver, Barnett should see considerable playing time with the offensive sets the Bearcats run.
He will be joining an experienced cast led by seniors Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton and junior D.J. Woods. That group will form one of the top receiving quartets in the country and gives Cincinnati an explosive offensive attack.
Barnett knows the system as well as anybody, having been there five years. Butch Jones realized that moving him to the other side of the ball was like adding a recruit without using up a scholarship.
"Bones" has all the talent in the world and has the potential to have another big season much like he did his freshman year. Let's hope he proves this was the right move and breaks out again in 2009.
I'm guessing that he will.