Well, the long awaited day has come, and Drew Barker has made his choice. This is huge for the Wildcats in more ways than just getting the #1 quarterback in the state for 2014 to stay home and play for the flagship university of his home state.
The most amazing thing about this commitment is how little time Mark Stoops and Neal Brown had to overcome the huge hole they were in after Joker Phillips & Co. completely failed to seriously recruit barker at all.
So why is this so big for Kentucky football? Well, there are several reasons:
Locking up the Commonwealth of Kentucky from out-of-state schools is job #1 for Mark Stoops if he wants to field a competitive team;
Sticking one in the eye of the Ol’ Ball Coach is hard to do, but when you get it done, it elevates your reputation;
While we really don’t have an urgent quarterback need, Barker is simply too good to pass up, and certainly too good to let out of the state virtually uncontested;
What most people don’t know is that Barker was so impressive recently in Cincinnati that Ohio St. tried to get back into the race for him, but was rebuffed. So the big boys have been after Barker, and UK beating out the likes of UT, USC, and OSU is truly something. I don’t meant to say that he was a priority for OSU, he wasn’t, but they did try to get involved hoping for a theft.
Barker has a strong arm, and even though he’s listed as a pro-style quarterback, he is much more athletic than people realize. He will be a capable and potentially star performer in Neal Brown’s system, and combined with the improvement in recruiting overall, could shepherd the first UK team in years with a chance to seriously compete in the SEC East. His sophomore and junior year is about the time frame we should realistically expect major improvement in Kentucky’s fortunes in football.
Please don’t be one of those, "Barker is better than Teddy Bridgewater!" crazies, he’s got a long way to go before anyone can make a claim like that. Bridgewater is a proven quarterback on the college level and Barker is just a 4-star incoming freshman next year. Bridgewater will be suiting up on Sundays before Barker takes his first game snap at UK, most likely.
With that said, a little celebration is in order. And why not, it’s Friday, the beginning of the weekend, right?