Kentucky picked up the biggest commitment under the watch of head coach Mark Stoops with the decision of Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky. Conner) to join the Wildcats over South Carolina in a Friday afternoon announcement. The crazy impression the Wildcats made on Barker paid dividends today and will continue to pay dividends in the coming months and years.
The 6’4’’, 210-pound Barker is a four-star quarterback coming off of a junior season that saw him throw 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.
His decision to join Kentucky may have been a surprise in some circles because of the lack of success of the Wildcat program in recent years, especially compared to their SEC east rival Gamecocks who had been considered the front-runner to land Barker. However, I think the decision to stay in-state and be the face of a rebuilding effort at Kentucky is not only commendable, but the right decision.
In comments made to Steve Wilfong of 247Sports, the sense that something special was brewing in Kentucky was too much for him to not want to hop on board.
“UK is obviously my home-state school,” Barker said. “It’s just awesome the new vibe with the new coaches and everything. I could just sense they’re on the brink of something happening. They’re right there getting all these recruits.”
Barker is the sixth and most significant commit for the class-of-2014. He joins a trio of offensive playmakers that have to be all smiles at the news of Barker’s announcement. The commitment of Barker will also be Stoops’ biggest recruiting tool when he continues on the recruiting trail because offensive players will want to play with and block for him. Kentucky moves up to the No. 23 recruiting class according to 247Sports, and they could continue to move up the rankings with the momentum surrounding the program.
Kentucky has experienced a revival with Stoops at the helm, and the 50,000 that turned out for the spring game in April is a signal of the support and optimism that surrounds the program. With Barker joining the rebuilding effort, the potential for the Wildcats to get out of the SEC east basement is a distinct possibility if a few more recruits of his caliber to come to Lexington in the next couple seasons.
The basketball program is used to headlines their high-profile recruits generate, but with the decision of Barker the football team certainly stole some today with the biggest recruit in the Stoops era.