New Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens has laid down the groundwork for a foundation of what could be a strong cornerback class, which is a position the Irish are in great need of after taking a developmental class in 2020.
Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard High School cornerback Ryan Barnes is one of the Irish staff’s major targets, and there’s mutual interest between Notre Dame and the 6-2, 180-pound cornerback.
Barnes has offers from some of the best football programs in the country, but his college decision will be first based on something that he finds more important.
“Academics is the lead [factor in the decision], including having my major and a strong network that will be there for me after I graduate,” Barnes said when asked about his top priorities on the recruiting trail. “I want to be able to see myself on campus if football isn’t in the picture, and then finally, a coaching staff that will develop me for the next level.”
Barnes is considering majoring in either marine biology, psychology or criminology.
As a player, Barnes is a very physical defender at the line of scrimmage, and he mirrors his overall game after one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
“Jalen Ramsey is a big one that I try to [emulate],” the Maryland talent told Irish Breakdown.
Barnes is a Cowboys fan, which has multiple former Notre Dame players, including former All-American and now Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith, who Barnes watched when he was in the blue and gold.
“I did watch him at Notre Dame and it was great, and I was excited when we picked him up.”
Barnes has followed Notre Dame throughout his life, as he has family in Indiana, and he was able to actually visit campus several years back, which is something he enjoyed plenty because he watched Notre Dame on television for years.
“Notre Dame and Florida were my favorite teams growing up,” Barnes stated, “but I watched any games I could watch because I followed college football more than any other sport.”
As a player, Barnes has already shown how big of an issue he is for offenses, but he’s not complacent, as he’s only worried about getting better during this offseason.
“My off-man technique is a big thing I’m working on,” Barnes explained.
As for his recruitment, Barnes has been in contact with the Irish staff since his offer in March, as the staff has circled him as a priority target.
“I have talked mostly with Coach [Clark] Lea, Coach Mickens, and Coach [Terry] Joseph,” Barnes informed Irish Breakdown. “Hopefully I can get there in June. I want to make my decision before the fall season."
Barnes is listed as a consensus three-star prospect, but his film tells a different story. He is a long and talented cornerback, one who reminds Irish Breakdown publisher Bryan Driskell of former Notre Dame and Minnesota Vikings star Robert Blanton. Driskell grades Barnes as a four-star recruit.
Landing offers from the Irish, Clemson, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee and Oregon among many, many other programs is evidence of his talent and upside.
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