It started off as a great story. Drew Barker was a Kentucky kid that played quarterback at an in-state high school. He was a four star prospect with offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Tennessee, The U, and South Carolina. All signs pointed to him committing to "The Old Ball Coach" even though he was Kentucky born and bred. The Wildcats weren't even on his radar because of the previous coaching regime of Joker Phillips. You see, Phillips and his staff never recruited Barker. In fact, he didn't even know the blue chip prospect attended one of his camps.
Once Phillips was fired, Mark Stoops was hired as the new head coach. He brought with him pedigree in both his name and his job history. Fresh off of leading Florida State's defense as one of the top units in the nation, Stoops brought his talents in Lexington in order to turn around a downtrodden program. He also brought Kentucky native Neal Brown and his Air Raid style offense fresh from the playbooks of Hal Mumme. Their first priority was to secure the in-state talent. Guys like Ryan Timmonds, Jason Hatcher, and Drew Barker were high on the list of must-haves and they landed all three.
It was a truly amazing turnaround for Barker. He went from not even considering the 'Cats to committing to an up and coming program over an established SEC East contender with South Carolina. Steve Spurrier is billed as a quarterback guru. Mark Stoops and his staff were largely unporven, especially in the SEC.
But with Barker's commitment, the program got a boost. Barker endeared himself to fans with charming interviews and a diary written for Kentucky Sports Radio. His talent was obvious and some were labeling him as the next Tim Couch, the savior of the program.
There was no doubt that Barker was the face of the 2014 class and it was evident in this commercial that was put out during the Super Bowl:
There he is, front and center, confidently flipping the ball over his shoulder, looking ready to lead the new era of Wildcats football.
But that new era didn't start with Barker. With a quarterback race that was tight between Reese Phillips, Patrick Towles, and Drew Barker, Stoops and Brown opted to go with the more seasoned Towles. Another highly rated Kentucky native, over the freshman Barker. It came as a bit of a surprise to some, but the logic was sound: Towles and Barker had similar ability, but the former had played in SEC football games and had been around for two seasons, while the latter was still acclimating to the speed of the college game.
Towles had his ups and downs on the field. While he looked great at times, against Florida and Mississippi State in particular, he hit bumps in the road. That's expected from a first year starter, no matter how long he has been at the school.
While Towles experienced some occasional some adversity on the field, Barker had his issues off the field. Back in September, Drew Barker along with Dorian Baker, Stanley "Boom" Williams, and Tymere Dubose were caught on campus firing air soft guns. Baker and Williams were both playing heavy minutes and were suspended for the following game, while Barker and Dubose faced in-house discipline. Stoops emphasized that all of them were good kids that made a silly mistake and regretted that mistake. No one was hurt. It was just another "kids will be kids" incident and nothing more. Many felt that the staff and administration handled the incident well and that the punishment fit the crime. They were charged with second degree disorderly conduct.
The Wildcats struggled through the back-end of the season, dropping six games in a row. Neal Brown left the staff to take a head coaching gig at Troy, a place where he had coached in the past. Stoops brought in West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson to fill the position.
With a new coordinator and with some of the struggles that Towles experienced on the field, many felt that Drew Barker would be given another crack at winning the starting job during summer camp. He would be a redshirt freshman and would be learning a new system along with Towles.
And then the latest incident with Barker occurred, this one seeming more serious. Over the weekend, Barker, again along with Baker, and Dubose were allegedly involved in a bar brawl with Eastern Kentucky University lineman Colton Scurry. As of now, the details of the fight are largely unknown, but here is what we have to go on:
- There indeed was a fight at a Richmond, Kentucky bar called Jerzeez.
- Scurry was indeed beaten up and there are gruesome photos of his injuries.
- It isn't clear who started the fight, but friends of Barker insist that Scurry was the instigator.
- It seems quite evident that Barker was indeed involved in some capacity.
- Scurry may be looking into filing charges against those involved.