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New Michigan commit has versatility, potential to be a star

Michael Barrett committed to Michigan on Tuesday, becoming the 21st member of the maize and blue’s 2018 class.

Out of Valdosta (Ga.), Barrett is a 3-star ATH with numerous position fits at the next level.

The Wolverines beat out Georgia Tech – who had a late push, including an official visit this month – for the Georgia athlete. You won’t hear this too often: This is the second recruiting battle Michigan’s won against Georgia Tech this cycle. The other being former Jackets commit, 3-star DE Julius Welschof.

With various possibilities in Ann Arbor, let’s break down the options Michigan has with Barrett in the fold.

Michael Barrett is the definition of an athlete

ATH.

When you see that position listing on a recruit’s profile, your first thought is: “What will he do at the next level?”

In Barrett’s case, he’s all offense.

His 4.43 40-yard dash, and 5-11, 220-pound frame, gives him the intangibles to play at RB or WR. Not to mention, his rushing numbers are better than most high school running backs, despite playing QB.

That being said, his passing ability is up to par, too. The 3-star recruit started at QB the past two seasons, showcasing strong arm strength by using a deadly deep ball all season in 7A Georgia football.

I can do all the evaluations in the world, but the numbers state the case: In his career, he tallied 4,640 yards and 45 touchdowns. Of those numbers, 2,647 yards and 38 touchdowns were on the ground. Which is exactly why Michigan has looked at him for positions outside of QB, and why Georgia Tech wanted him in that triple option set.

With those earned numbers, Barrett was awarded the Georgia 7A offensive player of the year.

All of that begs the question …

What position will Michael Barrett play at Michigan?

As mentioned: The possibilities are endless.

He benches 305 & squats 480 … we already told you about his lightning-fast 4.43 40-yard dash. Meaning, he’s strong enough for any offensive skill position and he’s certainly fast enough.

The issue is: Where will he fit in best? Could he be like a Jabrill Peppers on offense – a struggle to fit him in the right spot? Or will he be like a Chase Winovich, a kid who played multiple positions including tight end, before inevitably becoming an all-conference defensive end.

Here’s where I see him: Wildcat QB, running back, slot receiver. He’s a candidate to be a return specialist, too, but I’ll touch on why I think he’ll do more than just that.

Time to break it down.

Quarterback

At 5-11, he doesn’t fit Michigan’s system as a true QB. I’m a big fan of short QBs – they’re successful in college – but it’s something that I’d have to see to believe in a Jim Harbaugh offense. Scratch off “true” quarterback. Enter in wildcat quarterback.

We’ve seen Michigan attempt to operate the wildcat with Peppers & Chris Evans before. It’s had its moments, but it’s been an unsuccessful operation for the most part.

Despite that, I think Barrett gives the Wolverines a deadly option to run the wildcat. He has the arm to be a legitimate threat to throw the ball – Evans & Peppers can throw, but were never true threats downfield. Barrett’s dangerous speed & good vision allow him to be just as deadly on the ground as he is in the air, making him a true threat at wildcat that Michigan hasn’t had under Harbaugh.

How often do they run it? When do opposing teams figure it out? How successful can it be with a roster full of pro-style guys in a wildcat formation?

Those are all appropriate questions. The best way to find out? Run the play.

Running back

Barrett’s primary running style in high school was out of the pocket at QB. We know he can line up at running back – but we don’t know if he can do that as a true 3-down back.

Michael Barrett during a visit to Michigan in December. (Isaiah Hole/247Sports)

At 5-11, 221 pounds, he would be the biggest running back on the roster, weight-wise, by at least a few pounds. That’s a good thing.

Michigan needs a kid with his mix of strength and speed. At 5-11, he’s lacking some size, but not enough to cause concern.

Look no further than Rashaad Penny – the FBS leader in offensive yards this past season.

Dave Birkett – the Freep’s Lions beat writer – wrote on Penny, who’s a candidate to be drafted by the Detroit Lions in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Birkett wrote: He amassed 289 carries, scored 23 touchdowns, more than doubled his 2016 rushing total (1,018 yards) and was the biggest reason the Aztecs won 10 games.

Rashaad Penny led the NCAA with 2,248 yards rushing last season, and finished with one of the five most productive seasons in major college football history.

Penny, like Barrett, is 5-11, 220 pounds. He returned punts/kicks for touchdowns, had receiving touchdowns and a lot of rushing touchdowns.

Rashaad Peny

Could Barrett be the next Penny? That’s a stretch for a 3-star recruit – but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a kid with nearly exact measurables.

The only difference between Penny & Barrett out of high school besides position? Barrett tested stronger & faster than Penny.

Barrett has a faster 40-time at 4.43 than Penny’s 4.47. Barrett’s squat is higher at 480 than Penny’s 395. Barrett benches 305, Penny benched 235.

If Barrett can get comfortable with pass protection and operating out of the backfield, he could be a dangerous back in the making.

Wide Receiver

Barrett only had four receptions in his high school career – all of them came during his sophomore season.

I don’t see it as a true testament to what he can be in the slot. He was the outright quarterback for two seasons with his team, there was no reason for him to test out receiver.

We know he has no preference for where he plays at the next level – so he very well may end up in the slot – but it would certainly be a project.

Final verdict on Michael Barrett

Michigan’s getting an electric prospect in the 3-star athlete. Had he played running back throughout high school, he’d see himself far higher in the rankings than No. 731 overall.

He can be compared to an NFL prospect in Rashaad Penny if he ends up at running back. He’s going to arrive in Ann Arbor the biggest back. It wouldn’t surprise me if he arrived the strongest, though he has some stiff competition in a position room that’s well-conditioned. Ben Mason was the strongest player on the team as a freshman – so who’s to say Barrett can’t be the strongest back?

If he slides in at receiver, he makes a case to be the fastest, along with Eddie McDoom. He’d be one of the smallest at 5-11, though.

Luckily for you, I’m not the coach or offensive coordinator at Michigan. Though, if I was, I’d be rolling with Barrett at running back from the jump.

A high-ceiling player with a huge upside and an identity-to-be-found – Michigan landed a fun prospect to keep eyes on in Michael Barrett.

 

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