Paw Paw (Mich.) offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart has played three years of varsity at his school and earned all-state honors as a junior. That brought the attention of colleges and a handful of offers from Mid-American Conference schools.
The explosion of recruiting and scholarship offers he has seen this winter has been aided by his exploits on the basketball floor. His ability to run the court, his athleticism at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds and competitiveness has been on display. That is in addition to the school record 555-pound deadlift in the weight room.
Many of the college coaches who have made their way to Paw Paw have watched him in practice or in games, and many of those schools have followed up with scholarship offers. Michigan State had been recruiting him, hosted him for a bowl practice, and then offered in mid-January.
“It’s crazy to think about such a dominant school to show interest in me and thinks that I can play for them at the next level,” Barnhart said. “It’s a blessing.”
Barnhart is currently ranked by 247Sports as the No. 7 junior prospect in the state of Michigan.
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, area recruiter and offensive line coach Mark Staten, and co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, have all had a hand in recruiting Barnhart.
On his visit to a Spartan basketball game, the same day he was offered a scholarship by Michigan State, Barnhart had a good conversation with Dantonio.
“He said he just liked how I move on the field and my work ethic,” he said. “He said I could pretty much play anywhere from tight end to tackle or guard for them, so that’s pretty cool.”
He also has built a good relationship with Staten, who has served as his primary recruiter.
“I love Coach Staten, I feel like we already have a good connection that he could be my coach,” he said. “I feel like he wants it bad enough. He’s from Dowagiac, a small town like Paw Paw, so he did a lot of the same things growing up that I do now.”
Since Michigan State’s offer, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and others have offered to add to existing offers from Arizona State, Indiana, Iowa State and more.
Barnhart spoke highly of his recent visit to Michigan, where the Wolverines offered. He also admits he would like an Alabama offer, as his grandfather is a Crimson Tide fan. With his recruitment still ramping up, he is not planning to make a decision until next winter.
Michigan State will certainly be a school which factors into that decision, and the Spartans will have many more opportunities to host him before then.
“I’ll be back as many times as I can,” he said. “It’s right up the road from me, an [hour and a half]. So I’ll be up there as much as I can.”
MSU awaits word from DL prospects
Michigan State still has a handful of senior recruits they are waiting to hear from as next Wednesday’s National Signing Day approaches.
One of those is Habakkuk Baldonado, a Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International defensive end. Baldonado, a speedy 6-foot-5, 230-pound edge rusher, took an official visit to Michigan State two weekends ago, then was at Pittsburgh the following weekend and might visit UCF this weekend before making his decision.
The Spartans had been recruiting Baldonado, then offered him a scholarship at the end of his official visit, one in which his mother flew over from Italy for.
Michigan State was in Utah to see defensive linemen Jackson Cravens and Tennessee Pututau recently. Pututau, a defensive lineman from Salt Lake City East, took an official visit to Michigan State in December, but his 247Sports Crystal Ball favors in-state Utah currently.
Cravens, from Provo Timpview, also took an official visit to Michigan State, and is ready to announce his decision sometime this weekend, according to 247’s Blair Angulo. Utah and Oregon are among the other choices for the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Cravens.
Spartans offer Virginia sophomore
Michigan State offered Sterling (Va.) Dominion offensive tackle Jimmy Christ on Wednesday.
Christ, only a sophomore, is nearly 6-foot-7 and weighs 270 pounds. An All-State selection last fall, he sets up to be one of the top recruits along the East Coast in his class.
Maryland, Virginia, Boston College, Rutgers, Syracuse and more have offered.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.