J.T. Barrett bounces back

Wichita Falls, Texas, QB and Tyrone Swoopes earn Elite 11 invite at Dallas NFTC

Updated: March 26, 2012, 2:06 PM ET
By William Wilkerson | ESPN RecruitingNation

IRVING, Texas -- ESPNU Watch List quarterback J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) will have an extra piece of luggage to carry on the plane on Monday as he heads to Columbus, Ohio to unofficially visit Ohio State.

[+] EnlargeJ.T. Barrett
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comJ.T. Barrett at the Nike Football Training Camp at the Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch Training Facility in Irving, Texas.
After the weekend he experienced, with more ups and downs than a Six Flags roller coaster, there's no way he's storing his prestigious invitation to the Elite 11 finals in the overhead bins, either.

Barrett shook of a forgettable Elite 11 regional camp performance at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday by playing much more relaxed at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, which was held Sunday at the Cowboys' practice facility at Valley Ranch.

The ever-gracious, always-humble Barrett improved so much in a day's span that he was rewarded with one of three Elite 11 invitations over the weekend to the finals.

"I had no idea it was coming because yesterday wasn't too hot," Barrett said. "Today I just wanted to go out there and show that I was listening to what [the Elite 11 coaches] had to say and go out there and compete. That was my main goal."

Also among the most improved on Sunday was Longhorns commitment Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright), who earned an Elite 11 invite after being named the quarterback MVP of the camp. Devante Kincade (Dallas Skyline) received the first invite on Saturday.

Swoopes hadn't picked up a football since the end of the season prior to Saturday and it showed with some errant throws early at Cowboys Stadium. But he progressed, and he continued to get better on Sunday.

He was even singled out on numerous occasions by Elite 11 coach and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer.

"Looking better and better, son," Dilfer yelled to Swoopes after he was spot-on with a throw on a comeback route.

Barrett, who is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, said he went into the Elite 11 camp too focused for his own good, which made him tight and his throws weren't as crisp as he'd come to expect from himself.

"My performance yesterday was a four," he said. "If I was good to myself it would have been a five, maybe, and that's because I came out there and wanted to do so well that I was almost too focused. I tried to forget throws that were bad, but I just couldn't overcome some stuff."

Barrett didn't let Saturday's performance disrupt his chance to shine on Sunday, though. He went home disappointed in himself but went to sleep with visions of a brighter Sunday ahead.

"I went to bed trying to forget the day," he said. "I woke up this morning with the attitude to get better. I was not as focused today, was a little more loose. I just let the game come to me and just got into a rhythm."

Everyone at the camp on Sunday basked under the afternoon sun, but there were few that heated up like Barrett, who threw for 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,515 yards and seven scores as a junior.

One reason for that was a bit of critique from Dilfer.

"He told me, because I am a shotgun quarterback, sometimes when I am under center my balance is too tight with my legs and width," Barrett said. "I tried to incorporate what he said yesterday into my game today. When we got into the shotgun I really did well."

Time and time again, as the quarterbacks rotated turns throwing on-air to receivers, Barrett put the ball where it was supposed to go. He did the same against a defense by not trying to do too much.

"When we got in one-on-ones, I made sure I didn't try to knock my receiver over with the football," Barrett said. "I just tried to complete the ball and be a completion junky."

It became very evident, very quickly, why he holds offers from Arizona, LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, North Texas, Illinois, Kansas State and Texas Tech.

All of those schools can expect a decision from him before the start of his senior season.

"I will probably take two more visits after Ohio State, but I am not sure where they might be," he said. "Then I'll make my decision from there. I want to focus on my senior season."

For now, though, Barrett's focus is on his carry-on luggage.