By LARRY VAUGHT
For Terry Barker, it’s hard to put into words what it has been like to see his son, Conner quarterback Drew Barker, go from a relatively unknown player to a high-profile national recruit.
“As a father who grew up a sports fanatic and loved every sport and played sports, you dream one day of having a son that maybe will surpass you and what you accomplished,” said Terry Barker. “I just tried to put him in the right places and it’s been a great journey.”
That journey will now take Drew Barker to the University of Kentucky. He announced Friday during a ceremony at his school that he would sign with UK in February. He picked coach Mark Stoops’ program over South Carolina and Tennessee.
“I can remember when Drew was born in March of 1996 and the Kentucky Wildcats were on TV. They were in the NCAA and playing San Jose in the first round. I was there at the hospital watching and will never forget that,” Terry Barker said. “Even then, Drew had really large hands. He was like a big German Shepard puppy with big paws. You could just look at his hands and tell some day he could be a quarterback. I just said that spontaneously there at the hospital.
“I wanted him involved in sports. But I said we would expose him to sports and if he did not like something, we would not force him to stick with it. Sports were good for me and you get things out of being a team member. You learn self discipline and all the other things in general that sports teaches you. He was playing basketball, football, baseball to see what he liked and he played all three really well.”
Eventually, Drew Barker gave up baseball. He had a solid basketball career — both high school and AAU. However, he gave up AAU basketball last summer to focus on football.
“He wants to graduate in December and get on to college to start earning his degree and learning the playbook,” Terry Barker said. “But this whole thing has just been magical. We are so blessed to have gone through this great journey with him. I don’t want to use a cliche, but he is the son every father dreams of. He’s respectful, humble. He gets it done in the classroom and on the field. I have never have to make him get up. He’s up at 5:30 to go work out almost every day. He’s a self starter. He’s just a unique kid that loves to work hard.”
Terry Barker has always told his son this saying: “There is no traffic on the extra mile.” He says his son took that motto to heart.
“He gets out there and feels he will go that extra mile and then nobody else will be working as hard as he is,” Terry Barker said. “It just seems like everything he touches turns to gold.”
His father says he has the “special personality” needed to play quarterback. His numbers indicate that. The 6-4, 210-pound Conner star was 140-for-225 passing for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2012 when he also ran for 1,422 yards and 18 scores. As a sophomore, he completed 93 of 181 passes for 1,009 yards and four scores and ran for 1,371 yards and 22 touchdowns. That’s 2,793 yards and 40 touchdowns rushing the last two years and 3,076 yards and 26 touchdowns passing.
“Quarterback is such a demanding position. There are so many things coming at you and you have so many split-second decisions to make that the whole team depends on you making right,” Terry Barker said. “He’s real even keel. He never gets real high or real low. He stays steady. He won’t get rattled. He stays calm.
“I think his personality benefitted him during his recruitment. He takes everything in stride and stays humble. He gets the message from me to keep everything real and in perspective. His personality fits that. A lot of kids cannot handle the pressure and it gets to them, but he has handled it well.”
His father says Drew Barker has always believed in his ability. He’s young enough to actually have eligibility for two more years of high school, but because of his size — he was almost a 10-pound baby — he’s always played with and against older players.
“That gave him confidence. He did not always win or beat them, but he competed against older kids always,” Terry Barker said. “That just made him better and stronger and gave him confidence in himself that he could compete.”