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By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard says it’s not hard to understand why the verbal commitment Friday from four-star Conner quarterback Drew Barker is so important to Kentucky’s program.
“The significance of the commitment is yet another national recruit that coach Mark Stoops and his staff have been able to keep in Kentucky — first two being (Jason) Hatcher and (Ryan) Timmons (in the 2013 recruiting class,” said Maggard.
Barker had basically been ignored by previous UK coach Joker Phillips and his staff — they didn’t even know he attended a summer camp — yet Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown convinced him during the last five months to pick UK over South Carolina and Tennessee. Both had coaches that had been recruiting Barker much longer than Stoops and Brown.
“From the looks of his recruitment, he seems he wants to play in the SEC, which makes sense. Second is his family were UK fans going into the recruiting process. Coach Stoops was given more of a chance to catch up based on original loyalty. Either way, like Hatcher and Timmons, this staff comes in and closes,” Maggard said.
The former UK quarterback thinks Conner’s addition is huge for what it can do for the 2014 recruiting class, which now has verbal commitments from Barker and five Ohio players.
“A successful class usually has a vocal leader within its ranks,” Maggard said. “A nationally known recruit such as Barker can help sell the UK program to his peers. Today, they all talk to each other. Having an influential leader that is totally committed is like having another coach on the road recruiting.”
However, Maggard says fans should be realistic and he worries about the hype that Barker is Kentucky’s best high school quarterback since Tim Couch, a former No. 1 overall NFL draft pick.
“Those are huge shoes to fill. I do think with this coaching staff, he’ll develop into the best Drew Barker he can be. That should be good enough,” Maggard said.