Former Corona Standout Lands in Florida

By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

It’s been a world-wind ride for former Corona-Santiago high stand-out Blake Barnett. The 4-Star QB began his college career at Alabama red-shirting his freshman year then starting the next season for the Tide in Arlington Texas. He was part of an offense that helped demolish USC in the season opener completing 5 of 6 passes for 100 yards and a TD.

He was rotating with true freshman Jalen Hurts. Soon it became Hurts job and Bennett transferred to Arizona State. Herm Edwards was hired as head coach for the Sun Devils and he liked veteran QB Manny Wilkins and Barnett was out of there.

In the meantime a lot went on with Bennett. He earned his undergraduate degree. He married surfer Maddie Peterson, and their son Brooks Archer was born. A few weeks after that he moved to Tampa and entered the U of South Florida.

In his first year he was 7-3 as a starter while passing for 2,700 yards completing 61 percent of his passes for 12 TD’s and he ran for 8. He ranked 3rd in the AAC and 27th nationally in passing. All this despite a shoulder injury that caused him to miss two starts in the final four games.

He led the Bulls to three double digit fourth quarter comebacks. Georgia Tech (10), at Illinois (12) and at Tulsa (14).

He shared a lot with me at Media Days. You can tell he is loved by his teammates. He has a maturity level that’s high. “This is the last ride for me” said Barnett. “I’ve done the best to make the most of it.”

He came to Tampa with a family, ambition and an arm. Under head coach Charlie Strong he will have his sixth offensive coordinator of his college career.

However time marches on and he is ready for the final steps of his college days. He openly shared the places he has played in.  “Tuscaloosa is a small town, Its football culture speaks for itself. Tempe is a little different the people on the west coast are a little more laid back. They are both great places to live.”

The Bulls are pick 3rd in the AAC East behind defending champs Central Florida and a strong Cincinnati team that finished 11-2 last year.

Bennett is as confident as can be without tipping the ship. “My goals are team goals to win the conference championship and beat UCF. It would be great to play in the Cotton Bowl.”