Recruiting doesn't stop even when the team is in France. Three-star Paw Paw (Michigan) offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart announced his commitment to the home-state Wolverines and included a picture of Jim Harbaugh's reaction from Paris:
— Karsen Barnhart (@k_ballin__) April 30, 2018
Barnhart chose Michigan over fellow finalists Michigan State and Indiana, and he also held notable Big Ten offers from Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. He is the tenth commit in the 2019 class and the fourth along the offensive line, joining Nolan Rumler, Trente Jones, and Jack Stewart.
|3*, 5.7, #44 OT||3*, 79, #36 OT||
3*, 89, #41 OT,
3*, #39 OT,
Anyway, Barnhart isn't far off four-star status despite being from noted football hotbed Paw Paw. Rivals has handed out four stars to their top 31 OTs, and Barnhart sits directly behind commits to TCU, (pulls out bullhorn for commenters) Ohio State, and Florida in their position rankings. He's the very top three-star OT on ESPN. 247 has just four three-stars ahead of him in their position rankings; he's actually two spots ahead of fellow M commit Trente Jones there, though that may not last long after Jones had a big-time performance at the Under Armour Atlanta camp.
Add it all up and Barnhart is only five position spots off the four-star pace in the composite rankings, surrounded by prospects headed to likes of Florida, Washington, South Carolina, and LSU. Am I emphasizing this in a probably fruitless attempt to head off the three-star mafia? Perhaps.
Barnhart has excellent size for a rising senior at 6'4", 282 pounds. While he doesn't have ideal blindside protector length, he could fit on the interior or tackle depending on need and development.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and the rest.]
As you might expect, not a lot of recruiting gurus have made their way to Paw Paw for an in-person evaluation; thankfully, Barnhart has at least hit up a couple camps in addition to releasing junior film.
Everything we have on Barnhart is, unsurprisingly, from 247, which has had a couple different scouts catch Barnhart in person. Allen Trieu, who first caught Barnhart at last summer's Best of the Midwest, wrote up his free eval for his profile page:
Athletic prospect who has played some tight end and shows good agility and foot speed for a big man. Tenacious, plays the game competitively and blocks to the whistle. Has the feet and base tools for pass protection. He does not have a ton of reps in pass pro yet, but has flashed ability there and is further along in that department than might be expected from a kid who played tight end in more of a run-oriented scheme. The keys for him in college are continuing to add weight and polish up technique, particularly in pass pro. He is already quite strong in the weight room and will only get stronger. Given his athleticism, strength, and overall demeanor, he is a high floor kind of prospect with upside to offer as well. Tackle is not completely out of the question, and neither is center, but we think he projects most likely as a guard. - Allen Trieu
Both Trieu and Steve Wiltfong saw Barnhart a couple months ago at the Under Armour Cleveland camp, where Trieu came up with an enticingly specific Michigan comparable:
He showed quick feet and twitch and he competes hard. He measured 6-foot-4, but still has a chance to be a tackle at that size because of his athleticism, but may be best as a guard. Think Mason Cole.
Wiltfong thought he was the best tackle in attendance:
Paw Paw (Mich.) High 2019 Karsen Barnhart was the best offensive tackle at the event. From a frame standpoint he projects better inside but has the feet to play tackle. Michigan State and Michigan are battling there.
Athletic, strong swing lineman it is. Cole didn't get a chance to show his full ability at Michigan because he had to play a couple seasons out of position at left tackle, but in doing so, he certainly showed the value in having versatile linemen on the depth chart. Ideally, the coaches bring in some monster prototype tackles and Barnhart gets to settle in at guard, but he could potentially contribute at any spot on the line.
Barnhart had a final three of Michigan, MSU, and Indiana; he also holds offers from Arizona State, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, and several MAC programs.
Barnhart is the first Power 5 prospect to come from Paw Paw in the RIvals era (2002-present). The only other D-I signee out of the school in that time period was 2016 OL Mike VanHoeven, who signed with Eastern Michigan.
FAKE 40 TIME
Barnhart has SPARQ-verified, zero-FAKE combine numbers of 5.25 in the 40, 5.08 in the shuttle, 26.5-inch vertical, and 35.0-foot powerball throw for an overall score of 69.63. While that's not an elite mark, his agility (shuttle) and explosiveness (vertical) look solid, as does his strength (powerball).
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Add Barnhart to the pile of linemen who will eventually sort out between guard and tackle over the next few years. Given the large 2017 O-line class and the nature of being a lineman, Barnhart should take a redshirt year before competing for a spot on the two-deep. Depending on the development of the guys in front of him, his path to the field may be shortest at guard, where both Mike Onwenu and Ben Bredeson are set to graduate in a couple years.
Barnhart could bounce between tackle and guard as Michigan finds its best linemen over his first few years. His versatility and size give him a good chance of contributing down the line, and he's got some upside, especially at guard.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is up to ten total commits in the class and four on the offensive line. Nolan Rumler, the top-rated lineman in the class, is almost certainly an interior-only prospect, while Jack Stewart and Barnhart are both potential guard/tackle swing players. I'd expect the coaches to keep pursuing top tackle prospects to add to Trente Jones, by far the most tackle-like of the current haul.