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East Lansing — Coming out of Belleville, Julian Barnett was rated the third-best player in the state of Michigan and the No. 8 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.com.

It was a huge recruiting win when Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio landed the four-star prospect as Barnett was the second-highest rated player in the 2019 class.

But while the plan was for Barnett to join a pipeline of top-level cornerbacks to go through Michigan State, it appears he’ll take at least a minor detour. When the Spartans opened preseason camp on Thursday, Barnett was working with the wide receivers.

“He’s worked in the secondary through our summer drills and everything,” Dantonio said. “We just want to make sure, because we’re down at wide receiver, that we want to make sure we have the opportunity to have the right numbers.

“He’s got great hands. He’s been a wide receiver. He’s an exceptional playmaker, and so we just want to start him here and soak him at wide receiver then see where we go with him.”

Barnett wasn’t just a corner in high school. As a senior, he had 22 receptions for 425 yards and eight touchdowns. Barnett also ran for 250 yards on just 20 carries with three touchdowns.

The starters at wide receiver seem to be set with senior Darrell Stewart Jr. as well as junior Cody White and sophomore Jalen Nailor. The competition at cornerback also is stiff with Josiah Scott and fifth-year senior Josh Butler the likely starters when the season kicks off.

Higby on mend

Fifth-year senior offensive lineman Tyler Higby was taking part in the first day of practice even as he recovers from offseason surgery.

Dantonio said at Big Ten media days that he expected Higby to be ready to play by the time the season started. On Thursday, he seemed more optimistic.

“He’ll get back in probably a week or so,” Dantonio said.

Morgan to arrive 'shortly'

Dantonio said there were no long-term injuries keeping anyone out, but freshman wide receiver Tre’Von Morgan has not yet reported to camp.

“We expect Tre’Von to be here very shortly,” Dantonio said. “Just finishing up some things academically.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau

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