Barnett's skills showed early when he was named a starter heading into the 2010 season, but the Dayton product saw his season cut short in the second game when he suffered a knee injury against Miami. The underclassman recovered strong though in 2011, leading Ohio State with 75 tackles during their tumultuous season following the departure of head coach Jim Tressel. To go along with his tackles, Barnett was also strong in coverage, intercepting two passes and breaking up another six passes.
Despite missing three games to an ankle injury in his junior season, Barnett was still able to break up six passes when he was on the field as Ohio State went undefeated in Urban Meyer's first season in Columbus. The steady play that Barnett exhibited was enough to earn him honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Prior to the 2013 season, Barnett was one of eight Buckeyes that had the honor of being named captain for an Ohio State team that had very high expectations. While the secondary for Ohio State was under much scrutiny most of the year for their inconsistent play, that wasn't due to the play of Barnett. The season notched a team-high four interceptions and also had 84 tackles. Once again Barnett was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after being placed on the preseason Bednarik and Thorpe Award watch lists. Along with excelling on the football field, Barnett also held his own in the classroom by being named Academic All-Big Ten.
What Barnett will bring to a NFL team is a very intelligent and instinctual style of play. The trust that Barnett has in what he sees allows him to be aggressive in run support. This is shown by his impressive tackle totals for a safety in his time as a starter in Columbus. Barnett has good size for a safety, which allows him to be a very physical tackler.
When asked about Barnett, Urban Meyer said "He's a guy who doesn't accept being average." With his high intelligence, you don't see very many occasions where Barnett is caught out of position. With earning a starting position early in his career, Barnett has an impressive feel for the position, as he appeared in 45 games during his Ohio State career.
While Barnett is a very intelligent football player, he needs to outthink his opponent since he is lacking in some of his physical gifts. Barnett possesses decent overall speed, but it isn't good enough to the point where he can lineup against speedy slot receivers. The size that he has allows him to be able to cover tight ends. Barnett has to be careful in man coverage since his footwork could use work.
Another area for concern for NFL teams might be the injury history that Barnett has gone through. While it hasn't been extensive, he did suffer a knee injury that required surgery in 2010. During his junior season Barnett also missed three games due to an ankle injury. With Barnett's physical style of play, his durability will be worth keeping an eye on, especially with the increased speed and power he'll see from opponents at the next level.