STILLWATER — Calvin Barnett pulled of a Signing Day shocker in 2010, switching from his longtime commitment to Oklahoma State and instead signing with Arkansas.
As politicians like to say, he flip-flopped.
Two years later, he flip-flopped again — back to the Cowboys.
Following a stint at Navarro Junior College after he did not qualify academically at Arkansas, Barnett signed with OSU in December and is expected to have an immediate impact as a newcomer at defensive tackle.
Because of OSU's policy that does not allow first-year players to speak with the media, Barnett cannot yet explain his feelings and thought process during a wild recruiting process two years ago. But all indications are OSU is really where he wanted to be all along.
“I think deep down inside, he wanted to be at Oklahoma State the whole time,” said Nick Bobeck, Barnett's coach at Navarro. “I think he would agree and tell you that himself.”
Added OSU coach Mike Gundy: “I felt like that, ultimately, he wanted to come to school here. Circumstances happened within the last two or three days (before) Signing Day. Sometimes, young men get led in the wrong direction, based on things that are told to them.”
Once Barnett got to Navarro, though, none of that mattered. He needed to get his academics straightened out so he could transfer to a Division I school.
So Barnett followed the plan created by the Navarro advisers and graduated in three semesters, in time to enroll at OSU in January and join the Cowboys for spring football.
“It's not that Calvin couldn't handle the academic load,” Bobeck said. “It's just maybe he was a little immature in high school, maybe he had some studying issues or some bad habits as far as the classroom goes and such.
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CALVIN BARNETT'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“Right Place, Right Time”
After a Signing Day switcheroo and a two-year junior college stint, Calvin Barnett is finally where he wanted to be all along — in Stillwater. And the 300-pound defensive tackle is expected to be an immediate force for the Cowboys.
CALVIN BARNETT'S ENDORSEMENTS
* OSU coach Mike Gundy: “When he gets out there in an 11-on-11 setting, sometimes he may not be lined up exactly where he's supposed to, but when the ball is snapped, he goes. He attacks and he gets up the field and he plays hard and he tries to get the guy with the ball. That's kind of the key. That has given me an indication that he's got a chance to be a good player at this level.”
* OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young: “Coming into the spring, he really caught on to our defense faster than we anticipated him being able to. Most of the time, a junior college guy, they get in there and it takes them three or four games into the season to really find their niche…but boy he has just jumped right in there and done a great job.”
* Former Navarro coach Nick Bobeck: “He's a very powerful kid. He's got a great lower half. He's a guy that can really get off the ball, he's got a lot of snap to him, can recreate the line of scrimmage from the inside. It's difficult to do that with a kid that's 300 pounds, but he's athletic enough to do that. He can recreate the pocket and create some pressure in the middle.”
* OSU defensive end Cooper Bassett: “He's 300 pounds, but he carries it so well. He's got a good, football-playing, strong physique. And he's just got such a good burst and explosion off the ball.”