Blake Barnett’s time at Alabama reportedly has come to an end.
AL.com reported Wednesday that the Crimson Tide quarterback has left the program and will transfer.
When asked during his Wednesday evening news conference if Barnett was still with the team, though, Alabama coach Nick Saban said he couldn’t confirm the report.
“I don’t know,” Saban told reporters. “We’ll make a statement when we find out for sure.”
Saban only went as far as to say that Barnett met with him before practice Wednesday, for which he was not present during the team’s media viewing period.
“Blake is a fine young man,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job with his program, and we’d love to see him be a part of the program in the future, but we also want him to do what’s best for him.
“I don’t have a final decision on that. Nobody has told me that. You may know more about it than I do, so I can’t make any more comments about it other than that.”
Multiple tweets from Alabama teammates, though, appear to suggest that Barnett has left the team.
Remember be great @Blake8Barnett wherever you go. Good luck big bro 💯❄️
— Mack Wilson (@iam__mw3o) September 28, 2016
So many fake people in the world! Instead of shooting him down, wish him luck on his new journey.
— Dallas Warmack (@DallasWarmack) September 28, 2016
Wish Blake nothing but the best💯
— Captain Thompson (@playmaker_11) September 29, 2016
Barnett, a redshirt freshman from Corona, California, started in Alabama’s season opener against USC but has since fallen to No. 2 on the depth chart. True freshman Jalen Hurts replaced Barnett against the Trojans and has since started in each of the team’s past three games.
Overall, the 6-foot-5, 211-pound Barnett played in three of Alabama’s four games so far this season, with the lone exception coming in its Week 3 win at Ole Miss. He relived Hurts in the Crimson Tide’s decisive wins over Western Kentucky and Kent State.
During his three appearances, Barnett was 11 of 19 for 219 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Against Kent State last Saturday, he was 4 of 7 for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Before the season, Barnett, along with redshirt junior Cooper Bateman, were soon as the favorites to win Alabama’s starting quarterback job. But both Barnett and Bateman, who now likely will become the team’s backup, were beaten out by Hurts.
Barnett arrived in Tuscaloosa as an early enrollee last season, with some predicting that he would start immediately. But fifth-year senior Jake Coker ultimately won the job and led Alabama to a national championship, while Barnett redshirted.
Barnett, a former five-star recruit, will have to sit out the 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules, which prohibits players from immediate eligibility at another FBS program. He will have three years of eligibility remaining after this upcoming season.
Barnett becomes just the latest Alabama player from the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked 2015 recruiting class to transfer. Cornerback Kendall Sheffield, wide receiver Daylon Charlot, sophomore defensive back Shawn Burgess-Becker, redshirt freshman linebacker Adonis Thomas and freshman linebacker Christian Bell all have previously transferred from that class.
Defensive back Maurice Smith – who left for Georgia – also transferred this offseason, while wide receiver Chris Black left the team during the season last year and now plays at Missouri. Both Smith and Black were graduate transfers, which allowed them to play immediately this season.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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