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By LARRY VAUGHT
Andy Murray was a fierce competitor when he played fullback at the University of Kentucky and remains a hard-core UK fan. That’s why he’s become a huge Mark Stoops’ fan already and believes that Conner quarterback Drew Barker will pick the Wildcats over South Carolina and Tennessee Friday when he announces his college choice.
“He is a lock in my opinion. Kid is a blue blood,” said Murray.
Because Murray’s son plays at Simon Kenton, he’s not been able to get out in northern Kentucky to see Barker play. However, he knows something about South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s quarterback knowledge.
“I would think Spurrier knows what he is looking for in a QB and you can take that to the bank,” Murray said.
Barker’s number could break the bank. He 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.
“His commitment will send our recruiting into another gear and it amazes me what this staff is capable of doing with these recruits,” Murray said.
Stoops did do the unthinkable after getting the job when he persuaded Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons and Trinity linebacker Jason Hatcher to reverse their thinking about UK and sign with the Wildcats. Landing the two four-star Kentucky players at the last minute proved that Stoops and his staff would be relevant with the state’s best players — like Barker.
“I think the state of Kentucky will depend on wins and losses, and they must take control of the Louisville series. The Hatcher kid will go down as one of the turning points in this area. I think Timmons was a matter of timing and the right coach (offensive coordinator Neal Brown),” Murray said. “The state will be ours if we win.
“Let’s face it, we have not had a desirable product and these guys want to play in the spotlight. There will not be a better spotlight than UK when this thing turns … and it will turn. We have never been in a better spot. Stoops is the man. I have never been more impressed with a guy than this one. My favorite thing about him is his demeanor and upbringing. He is awesome.”
Barker and his father seem to feel the same after being ignored by former UK coach Joker Phillips.
When Barker made a visit to UK, Stoops had a video showing former in-state UK quarterbacks Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen and Andre Woodson on a video — and then Barker’s highlights were included.
“We are Kentucky fans. I love the Big Blue Nation,” Terry Barker said. “I think coach Stoops and his staff knew Drew had a sour taste in his mouth, so they went the extra mile to show how much they’d love to have him. That has impressed him.”