The Kentucky Wildcats suffered through a 2-10 season in 2013, their second straight year with the same record. New head coach Mark Stoops has changed the attitude around the program in his first year in Lexington, but that did not produce an increase in wins during his first season as a head coach.
Stoops, the former defensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles, put his stamp on the defense this season. Kentucky showed improvement on that side of the ball, and should be better in 2014, with the additions of several top recruits, as well as the return of defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith.
If there is one position where Kentucky struggled in 2013, it was at quarterback. Stoops brought in Neal Brown to run the “Air Raid” offense that Brown played in at Kentucky. However, poor quarterback play would not allow Brown to do many of the things he wanted to do.
The job for UK quarterback in 2014 is apparently a wide open race. There seem to be five candidates. The two quarterbacks that played this season, Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow, both return as juniors. The two redshirts from last season also return. Patrick Towles will be a sophomore in 2014 and Reese Phillips will be a freshman.
Then, there’s the player that everyone is watching. And that’s Drew Barker, a quarterback from Conner High School in Hebron, Ky. Barker is a four-star recruit, and he picked the Wildcats over the South Carolina Gamecocks. He seems to be the choice of the Big Blue Nation at this point, but he’s going to have to prove his worth to Stoops and Brown on the field.
The good news for Kentucky is that Barker plans to enroll at the school in January, and he plans to participate in spring practice. That should give him a jump start on becoming the quarterback for the 2014 season.
If Barker lives up to the hype, he should be the starter in 2014, which would bode well for Kentucky’s chances of improving next season.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.