By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops continued to work his magic Friday when four-star quarterback Drew Barker of Conner High School announced he would sign with the Wildcats and not South Carolina or Tennessee.
“This has been a very difficult decision but I feel the university I am choosing is the best fit academically, athletically and socially. I will pursue my football career at the University of Kentucky,” said Barker to a loud roar of applause at Conner as the UK fight son played.
Mississippi, Cincinnati, Miami, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Penn State were some of the other major teams that pursued the 6-4, 210-pound Barker.
Kentucky made him its No. 1 priority after Stoops arrived and hired offensive coordinator Neal Brown. Barker is ranked as the nation’s No. 102 junior by Scout.com.
Barker completed 140 of 225 passes for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns with just seven interceptions last season and he ran for 1,422 yards and 18 scores.
Conner coach Dave Trosper says Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told me that Barker had “the best release he’s seen since he’s been coaching” and Trosper noted that Brown didn’t have to watch Barker long before UK offered a scholarship.
“He’s got that natural ability to be able to make the people around him rise to a higher level because they see what can do. People don’t like to let him down because he works so hard to make others successful,” Trosper said.
Barker joins five Ohio commits — linebacker Dorian Hendrix, running back Mikel Horton, receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass, tight end Darryl Long and defensive end Tymere Dubose — in UK’s 2014 recruiting class but could well be the bellcow to attract more big-time talent.
He’ll join quarterbacks Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow, Patrick Towles and Reese Phillips at Kentucky.