Highlights from Drew Barker's Highly Anticipated Kentucky Career

Nick Roush01/02/18


Article written by:On3 imageNick Roush


Before Mark Stoops coached one game at the University of Kentucky, he picked up one of the biggest wins of his career.  On May 10, 2013, Northern Kentucky's four-star All-American quarterback turned down Steve Spurrier to play for Stoops' Wildcats. Barker's decision to commit to Kentucky put football fans in a frenzy.  Memories of homegrown greats like Tim Couch and Andre Woodson made fans dream big and provided something rarely felt, optimism. On the recruiting front, Barker's decision made an undeniable difference.  Leading the charge as a primary recruiter, he helped Mark Stoops sign the highest-ranked class in school history.  Featuring Barker, Matt Elam, Mike Edwards, Darius West and Denzil Ware, UK's class was ranked No. 22 in 2014. Following the recruiting hysteria, things quickly changed once Barker got to campus.

A Rough Start

It only took one month for Barker to make headlines on UK's campus...for the wrong reasons.  In September of 2014, Boom Williams, Tymere DuBose, Dorian Baker and Barker locked down campus when the four were spotted with pellet guns.  No one was harmed, but it scared the south side of campus and forced police to clear the area of an active shooter situation.  All four players were suspended one game for their actions. Before the conclusion of his redshirt freshman season, Barker found himself in the middle of a pregame skirmish at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.  Luckily, the image of Bobby Petrino grabbing a UK coach by the collar became the iconic image of the fight, instead of Barker's smiling face on the midfield logo.  A year later against the Cardinals, Barker made his second career start. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8TF5fEP8TY Once the season ended, Barker had another off-the-field incident.  Along with two others who participated in the pellet gun incident, Barker was involved at a bar fight in Richmond.  That fight bled over to EKU's campus when the Kentucky quarterback received a brutal sucker punch from Patrick Grafree, a former UK defensive end who played at EKU., https://youtu.be/iqTT4AbP1mw?t=1m2s

A Promising Start

Barker did not win the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman, but as Patrick Towles struggled midway through the 2015 season, Barker was slowly inserted into the offense.  At Vanderbilt he threw his first touchdown pass and completed 5-of-8 passes in a reserve role.  A tune-up vs. Charlotte prepared him for a breakout game against Louisville.  Instead, he completed just 6-of-22 passes for 128 yards.  Late in the loss, Towles replaced Barker in what would be Towles' final game at UK. Given the benefit of the doubt for his final three games as a redshirt freshman, the 2016 season began with promise.  With the keys to the offense, Barker led a marvelous attack against his former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.  Barker scored four touchdowns, threw for more than 300 yards and UK surged to a 35-10 lead over Southern Miss. For one half, the Drew Barker prophecy appeared to be fulfilled.  It was a wonderful moment that did not last. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fg0iaLYGxfY Second half turnovers led to a devastating Southern Miss upset.  Beat up in the pocket, Barker took one powerful blow at the start of the Florida game and was never the same.  He limped through about a quarter before Stephen Johnson stepped onto the field.  Barker started and completed two passes against New Mexico State before the pain in his back was too much to tolerate.  He did not play another down as Kentucky's starting quarterback.  Barker finished his career a 50 percent passer with 747 yards, 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Barker's tragic story as Kentucky's quarterback was supposed to be a comeback story.  Like many young adults, he had to learn some hard lessons early.  He matured and tried to turn his career around, only to be stopped short by a devastating back injury. Now he will end his college career elsewhere, like 12 others from that historic 2014 class.  A group that was supposed to rebuild the program, Stoops has still found success.  Hopefully Barker is able to find that at his next college destination. [mobile_ad]

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