Kentucky Makes Last-Minute Push for Drew Barker

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

An oral commitment is coming May 10 for four-star quarterback Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky. Conner), who will choose from South Carolina, Kentucky or Tennessee with the Gamecocks believed to be the favorite.

I can’t fault a quarterback for wanting to be coached up by Steve Spurrier, but I’m not ruling out the possibility of him picking his in-state Wildcats, who have made a big impression on him. Here, he could be the foundation for Mark Stoops as he attempts to turn the program around and out of the conference’s cellar.

Stoops’ predecessor Joker Phillips failed to show much attention to Barker, and even turned the 6-foot-4′, 215-pound quarterback off of Kentucky, but that all changed with the arrival of Stoops last winter.

Kentucky hasn’t had a solid quarterback since Andre Woodson led the SEC in pass attempts, passing yards and touchdowns in 2007. Before him, you have to go back to the days of Tim Couch to find a quarterback that possessed the similar set of tools that Barker has in his arsenal.

Barker told Mike Fields of Kentucky.com, “They had a video that showed all those guys from Kentucky who’d been quarterback, and then my highlight clips were in there with them. I liked that.”

Barker is coming off a junior season in which he threw for 2,072 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 18 more touchdowns on 1,455 yards. He was selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American bowl.

Kentucky isn’t going to be competing for conference titles in the immediate future as South Carolina is positioned to do, but the lack of talent along the offensive line and at the skill positions could allow Barker to set off a domino effect where wide receivers will want to come to Kentucky to catch passes from him.

The Wildcats already have commitments from offensive playmakers in the form of three-star receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass (Springfield, Oh. Springfield), three-star running back Mikel Horton (West Chester, Oh. Lakota West) and three-star tight end Darryl Long (Westerville, Oh. Westerville South). Those weapons would certainly be boosted by the arrival of Barker.

I think Tennessee is a distant third right now, but with Josh Dobbs set to earn a starting job this fall, that shouldn’t be a catastrophic loss for the Volunteers. A late offer from Notre Dame could force Barker to rethink his decision, but with his decision coming on May 10, all indications are pointing to him joining the Gamecocks where he will compete with incoming freshman Connor Mitch for the starting job in 2015.

However, it would be tremendous if Kentucky was able to pull off the “upset” and land Barker, because he could be the face of the Wildcat revival. Perhaps the thought of being the hometown hero like Couch and Woodson is the overriding factor. I think that’s a decision that’s would be quite commendable, if only because some would try to run away from those comparisons and pressure that comes with that choice.

Big Blue Nation will be waiting with bated breath until Friday.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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