January 4, 2007

Barksdale is crazy like a fox

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The long recruiting journey of Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech defensive tackle Joseph Barksdale is coming to a close. What started as a potential commitment to Notre Dame to a flirtation with Michigan to a rejection from Texas and a sure lock for Ohio State could end up with a commitment to SEC power LSU. But whatever result come Saturday's announcement, Barksdale wouldn't do anything differently.

"I know there are people out there who think I'm a flake," said the 6-foot-6, 323-pounder with a smile. "They hear about me switching the schools I like so much and all the things that have happened throughout my recruiting process and they think I'm kind of nuts. But that's okay, my mother always told me it doesn't matter what people think of you if they don't know you. It's what the people you care about and who care about you think that's important."

Barksdale was rumored to be close to a commitment to Notre Dame back in the spring before he blew up at the NIKE Camp at Ohio State. However, he maintains that he always wanted to take his time.

"I didn't have any video out there because we didn't have any so I wanted to go to NIKE and see if I could attract some more schools," he said. "I got a bunch of offers after that and decided to slow things down."

Barksdale was then rumored to be close to a commitment to Texas although the Longhorns put a deadline date on a verbal and Barksdale felt he wasn't ready. Then it was Michigan that was the program that rumors had him linked to but that didn't work out.

"With Michigan, they were my very first offer and I really appreciate that from them and all they've done for me, but it just wasn't what I wanted," he said. "Most players who grow up in Michigan dream of becoming a Wolverine but that's not me. I like the program but I think getting away would be better. And with Texas, Tray Allen and I have become good friends and he's been trying to get me to go there since day one but I'm down to Ohio State, LSU and Michigan State."

But only one will win the battle on Saturday.

"I've already committed to the school of my choice and told the other two schools as well," He said. "I'm really surprised it hasn't leaked out yet. I'm actually already enrolled at the school I picked and I start classes the third week of January so I guess I'm basically already a member of the team so to speak."

Most at the U.S. Army All American Bowl feel that Barksdale will end up at LSU, a program that came on strong in the end despite entering the picture later than Ohio State, but he's not saying.

"You can speculate on what you want as long as you don't say it came from my mouth," he said. "LSU came in a little later than OSU because they were my second-to-last official visit. But they've always been a school I've been interested in just like Ohio State and Michigan State."

Wherever he ends up, Barksdale is confident he'll end up playing defensive tackle.

"A lot of people have told me they think I'd be a better offensive tackle but I'm hopefully showing people I'm a defensive player here," he said. "That's what I want to play and I've been told that's what I'll be."

So the "flake" who is kind of "nuts" doesn't have any regrets regarding the recruiting process and the ups and downs and twists and turns that have come with it.

"It all worked out in the end and I met a great bunch of people," he said. "It's funny because some people see me as a big kid from Detroit and automatically think I'm this or that or not so smart. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to show people I'm not what they may think I am and hopefully I've left a positive impression. So people can think what they want about me and the way it's gone but I think I've done my homework, I've been respectful and I've made a good choice.

"I'll let everyone know what it is on Saturday."

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