Coming off the hardest year in his life, Drew Barker says the one thing he’s looking forward to the most in fall camp is getting hit. You might not expect that from someone who underwent back surgery nine months ago, but Barker said being tackled in practice is the final step in his recovery process.
“I’ve done a lot of stuff this offseason with Coach Edmond in the weight room. Pulling sleds, pushing sleds, pulling chains, a bunch of crazy stuff. I feel pretty confident that I’m good. The only box that I have left unchecked is ‘take a hit.’ I’m ready for that to happen, which sounds kind of weird, you don’t usually want to get hit, but in my case, I want to take a hit to know that, alright, I’m ready to go.”
This time last year, Barker was unequivocally the starting quarterback heading into fall camp, but now, he’s unequivocally the backup behind Stephen Johnson. Once poised to be the face of the program, Barker says he’s embraced the underdog role and looks forward to fighting for his old job.
“It’s definitely a different feeling trying to get the job back, but I kind of like it, being an underdog now. It’s really a motivating factor for me, to come out here and show the coaches and everybody I’m ready to go, that I’m 100% healthy.”
Barker admitted that the past year has been hard on him, especially the months following his back surgery when all he could do was walk around the track while his teammates prepared for a bowl game; however, he continues to draw confidence from his impressive performance in the first half of Kentucky’s season opener vs. Southern Miss, when he threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
“There’s definitely some hard times where you get down on yourself and you look at it like, I was the starter, I could have been the one leading us to a bowl game, so that kind of wears on you mentally, but really the motivating factor for me was seeing how well I played in the first half of the Southern Miss game and knowing I can play like that all the time. That’s really what got me through the rehab because in the first few months, you’re not really doing anything, just walking on an elliptical. Everyone’s out there practicing for the bowl game and I’m walking around the track. It got monotonous and stuff, but I’m ready to go now. I’m really confident and ready to go.”
What does Barker hope to prove in fall camp?
“I feel like I’ve shown in glimpses that I can play at the high level I know I can play at. I kinda feel that I haven’t been able to go out there really and show what I’m fully capable of because even last year before the first game, my back was bothering me, so I’m ready to go out there and show everyone and myself that I can play how I know I can play.”