Kentucky Wildcats: Starting Drew Barker at QB Would Be Bold Move

By Tim Letcher

The Kentucky Wildcats will head into fall camp without a definite starting quarterback. Spring practice, as well as then annual Blue-White scrimmage, have come and gone, but no clear starter has emerged for the Wildcats.

There are at least three candidates for the job, and a fourth could be in the mix. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles got the start in the spring game. Towles looked the best of the three quarterbacks in that game, but it wasn’t enough to convince head coach Mark Stoops or offensive coordinator Neal Brown that he should be the guy.

Redshirt freshman Reese Phillips is also a candidate for the job. Phillips has not played in a college game, but he has impressed Stoops and Brown in practice.

The wildcard in the race is Maxwell Smith, who will be in his fourth season with the program. Smith has started 11 games in his career, and has put up big numbers at times. However, he has struggled with injuries, and may not be healthy enough to play in 2014. That remains to be seen.

If the Wildcat staff wants to make a truly bold move, they would opt for the fourth option. True freshman Drew Barker, who enrolled early and participated in spring drills, appears to be the quarterback of the future in Lexington. Barker played in the spring game, but looked shaky during his time on the field.

However, naming Barker as the starter would make it clear that the Wildcats are playing for the future. Barker was influential in the recruiting of the 2014 Kentucky signing class, and he has many friends among the group. This younger band of players would love to see their guy be the starter, and they would be willing to suffer through the growing pains as Barker learns the ropes.

Making Barker the starter would be a bold move, but it’s not one that Stoops and Brown are ready to make. At least not yet.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for 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.

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