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Report: Quarterback Blake Barnett eligible to play right away at Arizona State

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett (8) looks for an opening against Southern California linebacker Michael Hutchings (19) and linebacker Cameron Smith (35) during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

A day before national signing day, Todd Graham’s Arizona State Sun Devils got some good news.

Tuesday, Arizona State made their hiring of offensive coordinator Billy Napier official. Within hours, the Sun Devil football program had more good news as Alabama transfer Blake Barnett will be able to immediately play next fall, according to SunDevilSource.com.

Ever since Barnett announced he would become a Sun Devil the hope was that he would be able to play in 2017, the question was just when.

Barnett announced he was leaving Alabama in late September after the Crimson Tide started 4-0, with three of the wins coming in games started by true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. That led to the belief that Barnett would be eligible to play for his new team in Week 5 of the 2017 season, but SunDevilSource.com reports the sophomore-to-be has been granted a Legislative Relief Waiver, which would make him eligible for the season opener against New Mexico State on Aug. 31.

Of course, being eligible and actually starting are two different things, and Barnett would have to win a crowded quarterback battle either in spring ball or fall camp. Junior Manny Wilkins started most of the 2016 season for the Sun Devils, and played well early in the season. He completed 197-of-311 passes for 2,329 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 246 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Beyond Wilkins, Brady White, Dillon-Sterling Cole and Bryce Perkins all return and Graham’s 2017 recruiting class also includes Chandler Basha’s Ryan Kelley, a four-star recruit.

In his one start for Alabama, Barnett completed 5-of-6 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s 52-6 rout of USC in Arlington, Tex. on Sept. 3. He would see mop-up duty in Alabama’s wins over Western Kentucky and Kent State before announcing his transfer.

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