2020 Season Countdown: #36 Karsen Barnhart

2020 Season Countdown: #36 Karsen Barnhart

August 10, 2020
Karsen Barnhart (image via MGoBlue)

Note: Yes, I’m continuing with the countdown even though it looks like the season will be canceled/postponed. I don’t like to leave things unfinished. Also, I already went to the trouble of making the dang list.

Name: Karsen Barnhart
301 lbs.
High school: 
Paw Paw (MI) Paw Paw
Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 
Last year: 
I ranked Barnhart #91 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in two games and redshirted
TTB Rating: 

Barnhart was a high school tight end transitioning to the offensive line in college. With three seniors and another guy who was good enough to leave for the NFL after his junior year, a redshirt was inevitable. And that’s exactly what happened, though he did play against Middle Tennessee and Rutgers in mop-up duty.

Practice did result in quite a bit of practice buzz for Barnhart, though. He was one of two true freshmen to get people excited, along with Zach Carpenter.

This year Barnhart is probably looking at a backup role, but he should be the #6 or #7 lineman. Last year it was Ryan Hayes, who filled in when Jon Runyan, Jr. was hurt. In the 2020 season, it will probably be Barnhart or Joel Honigford. Barnhart has the athleticism to play tackle even though he might be a little short at 6’4″. Either way, it appears that Barnhart is putting himself in line for a starting role when an upperclassman moves on to the next level.

Prediction: Backup offensive guard


  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 13, 2020 at 10:02 AM

    If Barnhart is indeed the #6 OL he will be far more important than #36. In almost any year that means he is a starter because it’s far more likely there is a replacement needed across 5 positions than 1.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1359
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 13, 2020 at 3:19 PM

      If that really were the case, maybe, but it’s not. Barnhart won’t be the first backup for all 5 positions on the OL. And unlike RB, CB, WR, DL, TE, non-starters on the OL aren’t rotated in and out, and only very rarely are used situationally. Under normal circumstances, OL backups don’t play until the game is out of reach.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 13, 2020 at 11:13 PM

        Yes – there is not much rotation on OL — this is why the top backup is absolutely critical. That guy is going to end up, more likely than not, starting and playing every snaps against PSU, OSU or the bowl game.

        When was the last season where a OL outside the preseason top 5 didn’t end up starting?

        Last year the number 30 and 77 ranked guys in the countdown started games. 7 receivers and backs were ranked above Jalen Mayfield. 7! I don’t know how any were ahead of Ryan Hayes because I can’t count that high.

        The year before that the number 52 guy started while an all conference player and NFL draftpick (Onwenu) and the starting right tackle landed outside the top 20 – both ranked behind 3 backs (including Ben Mason).

        The year before THAT, I think there were something like 4 OL starters who ranked outside the top 25.

        Obviously the countdown is never going to be perfect and obviously there are always going to be a lot more than 22 starters in a season. But 7 skill position guys over the starting tackle? Because they rotate? Because somebody has to carry the ball when Michigan leads by 40 against Rutgers?

        Thunder does a great job overall, but there’s a systematic overvaluation of skill position players (rbs especially) who rotate in and undervaluing of linemen on both sides of the ball. At least outside of the top 10-15 where the proven starters are located.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 13, 2020 at 4:23 PM

      We’re to the point now where virtually everyone is a starter in some way, shape, or form, so I’m not sure how important the #6 guy is. Plus Michigan has a redshirt junior (Honigford) ready to step in, so I don’t know how far the dropoff is from #6 to #7.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 13, 2020 at 11:15 PM

        Fair point about the top backup OL vs next guy after him.

        But we have lots of evidence the same logic applies at RB, regardless of experience, and that’s one position not 5.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3785
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 14, 2020 at 9:15 AM

          Backup running backs get on the field regularly, usually at least 3 per game, even in close games.

          In many games only the 5 starting offensive linemen play (except on FG/XP).

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