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The Drew Barker Diary

The Drew Barker Diary: The Next Chapter

The Drew Barker Diary: The Next Chapter

Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker kept a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:

Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening
The New Kentucky Football
Football is Finally Here
Bringing the Winning Mentality to UK
“We know these coaches are going to win”

Hey guys. I guess you heard, but my team lost to Anderson County in the playoffs last Friday. It was a tough game. We played them in 2011 in the Regional Championship and they ended up beating us 31-30, so this year, we were still kind of mad about that game and we wanted to come out and win. We got down early by a few touchdowns and it just seemed like nothing was going our way. All year we’ve battled back, and we came back and got the score to 35-34, and on the extra point to tie it up, we decided to run a fake kick and we didn’t get it, so we lost to them by one point again. In my three playoff losses as a starter, I’ve lost by a combined five points–one my sophomore year, three my junior year, and one this year. They were all tough games. Matt Jones came out to the game, so it was good to see him on the sidelines. I know Anderson County has a lot of UK flavor, so there were a lot of UK fans there too, so I definitely want to thank everybody that came out to show their support.

Photos via Drew Barker

Photos via Drew Barker

I feel like I’ve definitely improved a lot over this season. Going to all these camps this past summer like the Elite 11 really helped. When I was there, they focused on my footwork, which was good because your accuracy starts in your feet. They also helped me with my drops and the quickness of my drops, which made my pocket presence much better, being able to sit in the pocket a little longer and deliver the throws instead of running out as quick or bailing out as quick. I also thought my release got a lot quicker over last year, when it was a little drawn out. Just from watching Coach Brown’s offense this year and at Texas Tech, those quarterbacks have really fast releases. They might not have the strongest arms, but they have a really quick release. When I went out to the Elite 11, I asked Coach (Trent) Dilfer how I can improve the speed of my release because I knew it would help me in the Air Raid offense. They were hard on me about that, but you could see a big difference between last season through the end of the summer to the end of this season, how much better it’s gotten. I’m getting the ball to the receivers a lot faster. That and my footwork are the two things I’ve really improved on.

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With high school football over, I’m not really sure what to do with myself. I’m taking a little break this week, then starting on Monday, I’m going to get back to lifting, running, throwing again and stuff to get ready for UK and the Army All-American Game in January. In high school football, there are two major all-star games: the Under Armour All-American game and the Army All-American game. You know how in basketball they have the McDonalds All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic? The Army All-American game is more like the McDonalds game. I got invited to both of them, but they’re back-to-back on January 3rd and 4th, and in the contract you can only choose one, so I chose the Army All-American Game because I thought it was for a really good cause, and there’s a lot of prestige behind it. I think almost 300 NFL players have played in the Army All-American game, including great players like Tim Tebow, Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, guys like that. Also, like I said, the cause is great. We wouldn’t be able to play football if it weren’t for the people serving our country, so that had something to do with it too.

As you know, Matt Elam’s also playing in that game, and I’m still trying to work it out so I can room with him. I called the people in charge of the game about it and they said they’d get back to me, so don’t worry, BBN, I’m on the case! I’m still not wavering at all in my prediction even though I see a lot of people getting nervous. Matt’s 247 Crystal Ball is up to 60% Alabama the last time I checked, but I think back to when I announced, and my Crystal Ball was 81% South Carolina, so those are just guesses. I’m staying strong with my feeling that he’s coming to UK. Like I said in my last diary, he’s definitely living the recruiting thing up and likes being in the spotlight, which is awesome, because he’s not going to have a bigger stage than the one at the game on January 4th. If he chooses Kentucky, it will be huge with all those viewers watching. I think I heard that there were over 2 million people watching it last year, so if had the UK, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State hats on the table and chose UK, that’d be a sign to every recruit and fan that we’re not playing around anymore. They’ve gotta start taking UK football seriously. We’ve already done that with the class we have now, but it would be an even bigger step if he committed.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the 2014 class tweeting out pictures of the letters they’re sending in. Technically, it’s not a letter of intent, it’s a financial aid agreement that guarantees the scholarship to the player. It means that the coaches can have unlimited contact, changes some of the recruiting restrictions, and they are permitted to talk about you publicly in the media. I’m planning on sending mine in tonight, and I’m really looking forward to faxing it in. Yes, even though it’s 2013, we have a fax machine, although it’s actually part of our printer. I don’t feel comfortable mailing it in because it will take two to three days, so I’ll fax it in tonight. In fact, I may have already sent it in by the time you read this.

Barker did send in his financial aid agreement today. | Photo via Barker's Twitter

Barker did send in his financial aid agreement today. | Photo via Barker’s Twitter

I plan on talking to the coaches tonight after I send my paperwork in. They all sent me messages on Twitter after my game last week, telling me I had a great high school career and they can’t wait for me to get to get down to Lexington. One of the main reasons I chose Kentucky over the other schools was I felt like I had a great connection with all the coaches, and after that loss, it was cool to have every coach on the team send me a message.

Photo via Drew Barker

Photo via Drew Barker

It’s crazy that I’ll be at UK in a little over a month. I remember committing like it was yesterday and now it’s actually about to happen. I think it will definitely be kind of weird at first not going back to school with all my classmates, but I’m really looking forward to it and getting down there to work with Coach Korem and the strength staff, who say they have some big plans for me when it comes to weightlifting and diet and stuff. I’m ready to get my body in the best shape possible and be there with all the other guys enrolling early, like Mikel Horton, TV Williams, Nick Richardson, and Thaddeus Snodgrass. We’re looking forward to getting down there and bringing the new swagger with us to Kentucky football. I’m getting really excited.

This is my last entry, so I definitely want to thank everyone for reading. Ever since I committed, all of your support just shows that there’s no better fan base than the Big Blue Nation. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they read the diary, so it means a lot. I can’t wait to go out there and represent you on the field.


The Drew Barker Diary: “We know these coaches are going to win”

The Drew Barker Diary: “We know these coaches are going to win”

Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:

Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening
The New Kentucky Football
Football is Finally Here
Bringing the Winning Mentality to UK

Hey BBN, it’s been a while. You could probably guess this, but I’ve been pretty busy with football lately. We ended the regular season 7-3 and now we’re getting ready for the playoffs. We lost early in our first district game to South Oldham, so we ended up getting the #2 seed in the playoffs. That means we play Montgomery County tonight at Conner at 7:30 p.m. We’re getting ready for that and it’ll be a good game. We played them last year in the first round and won 49-20, but they were pretty young. They’ve got some of the same guys back, so it will definitely be a tougher game than last year. I’m looking forward to playing them.

With my family on Senior Night

With my family on Senior Night

Coach Stoops and Coach Brown came to my senior night a few weeks ago. I’m not allowed to talk to them while they’re visiting, but during the game, I had a 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and I looked over and saw Coach Stoops do a fist pump, which was pretty funny. He was pretty fired up, which was really cool. Later on, they called and told me they were really excited and that I played really well. They liked my quick release, accuracy, audibles at the line, and my escapability or making something out of nothing. Overall, they said they were really impressed and can’t wait for me get there in January.

Photo by Scott Davis

Photo by Scott Davis

Of course, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Cats this season. They’ve had some unfortunate breaks at quarterback with both Jalen and Maxwell going through injuries. That definitely makes it hard not just on the quarterback, but the team as a whole since you have to be comfortable with two quarterbacks instead of just one. It’s been tough, but they’re doing the best they can and honestly, we’ve been in some tight games. The South Carolina game was just unfortunate because Jalen had a great game, we just got the offense started a little too late. The Mississippi State game was really tough, we had some tough breaks, and just a lot of things that didn’t go our way. Obviously the Alabama State game was one we should have won, and we did. I’m looking forward to watching them play Missouri this week because they’re a top-ranked team and have played very well this season. I know Jalen’s back in there as the starter, and like I said, the team is probably more comfortable knowing he’s the primary guy, so I’m looking forward to seeing the result on Saturday.

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I’ll admit, it’s tough to watch the games and not picturing myself as the quarterback. As any kid does when they’re watching the game, I wish that was me. I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to focus on getting my high school team to a State Championship. Next year, nothing’s guaranteed, so I’m gonna go in there, work hard and show them my work ethic. They’re going to play the person they think puts the team in a position to win, and if that happens to be me, that’s great, but if it doesn’t, I’m going to work hard every single day and do the best on the scout team, redshirt, whatever will make the team better.

One thing I’ve noticed about the team this season is the losing mentality is gone. It just shows recruits and fans how much respect the players have for the coaches. It shows them that they don’t want their coaches to have the disappointment of the loss and will go and fight a battle every single week for them. That’s honestly a big reason we’re having such success in recruiting, too. You can tell these coaches want a winner, and confidence breeds confidence, and they’re confident. It’s kind of like a disease. Once one person has it, it starts spreading and catches on like wildfire. I love the new attitude this coaching staff has brought to the program.

It’s great to see Coach Stoops get fired up on the sidelines, too. When he was at my game a few weeks ago, he was getting pumped up and you can tell he really loves the game. When you see him going off on the refs on the sidelines, it shows how much he cares about his players and his team and the respect he has in them. He’s putting it all on the line, and it shows the players that he has their back and won’t give up on them. Some coaches will recruit you and act completely different when you go there and start playing. You can tell Coach Stoops has that same fire and passion on the field that he does off the field. That’s just awesome to see, and very encouraging.

Photo by Scott-DavisPhotography.com

Photo by Scott-DavisPhotography.com

That’s another reason the 2014 class can’t wait to get on campus. I thought it was funny, after the first couple of games, everyone was like “Oh, they’ll have three or four decommitments by the end of the season” and we haven’t even had one. I don’t think we’re going to have one at all, because we’re all already like brothers. I saw the quote from Matt Elam when he said he has the best relationship with the UK recruits of anybody. We’re all just like a family. We don’t just talk football. If anyone’s struggling or going through something, they can count on us and we’ll be there for them. We’ve got each other’s back and it’s really unique. You don’t see that at any other schools at all. You visit some schools and there are like five or six dudes that are close, but not all 25. I think it’s just really cool. It takes a special kind of person to commit to a school coming off a two-win season. A lot of us have offers from top ten teams, but we choose to go to UK because we know that these coaches are going to win. You can already tell from this year, we’ve been in some tight games and they haven’t given up. It’s possible. Just look at Texas A&M and Missouri. They came in from the Big 12 and most thought they would be bottom feeders, but now they’re competing at the top of the SEC. Even Auburn has been down the last couple of years and they’re a top ten team right now. It can be done. It’s very encouraging, and I can’t wait until that’s us in a couple of years.

One of the guys that can really help us do that is Matt Elam. He’s visiting Alabama this weekend (so hopefully they lose to LSU, haha), but he’ll be having a good time and tweeting about it a bunch. He’s a funny guy, and likes to play games with the fans sometimes, so I’m sure he’ll let all the UK fans know he’s having fun. That’s just who he is, he’s very flamboyant. He’s taking his official to UK on December 14 with basically every other UK commitment in the class, so that will be a huge weekend. I still think we’re right there in the driver’s seat. I know he said that Notre Dame caught up to UK and Alabama, but I think we have a good, if not better, shot than any of those other teams. We’re both playing in the Army All-American game, which means we’ll be out there for a whole week to get ready. I’m trying to get it set up so I can room with him to make sure he’s got Kentucky on his mind. Don’t worry, BBN, I’m working the phones!

Aside from Matt, there’s still room for a few more players in the class. We’re finished with every other position except for offensive line. The one player I really want is Marcelys Jones. Right now he’s committed to Ohio State, but I know he’s taking his official visit to UK December 14, which is the same weekend as Matt and almost all of the 2014 commitments. He’s Ohio State right now, but he visited UK one time this summer while he was committed to Ohio State and is really close to Darius West and Coach Marrow too, so those are the two guys we’re trying to finish up the class with.

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It’s hard to believe there are only a few months until I’m at UK. Before then, I’ve got a lot to do. I’m planning on making it to the State Championship, which is the first weekend in December, and then there’s 20 days left until I graduate from school. I’m just going to hang out with my friends, enjoy my time with them, start studying for UK, and work out and stuff. It’s definitely exciting but I’m trying to wrap up my high school win with a State Championship, so that’s the main goal right now.

Talk to you guys later and Go Cats!

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The Drew Barker Diary: Bringing the Winning Mentality to UK

The Drew Barker Diary: Bringing the Winning Mentality to UK

diary-barker

Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:

Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening
The New Kentucky Football
Football is Finally Here

Hey guys, long time no talk. I’ve been pretty busy with football and school. Right now, our team is 2-1. We beat Boone County and Ryle and lost to Simon Kenton in a tough game, 32-45. They’re a really good team, rated top five in 6A, but we didn’t execute to our fullest potential in that game and it definitely cost us. But, we put that one in the books and this week, we’re getting ready for Campbell County, which is actually our homecoming, so it’ll be a pretty big game. Individually, here are my stats so far:

8/31 vs. Boone County (W, 40-7): 8/11 passing, 235 yards, 4 TDs; 4 rushes, 162 yards, 2 TDs
9/6 vs. Simon Kenton (L, 42-35): 27/44 passing, 344 yards, 4 TDs; 20 rushes, 53 yards, 1 TD
9/13 at Ryle (W, 21-7): 21/29 passing, 235 yards, 0 TDs; 15 rushes, 44 yards, 2 TDs

Our first district game is the week after next against South Oldham, but I’m actually going to have to miss some practice. My grandmother passed away on the day of the Boone County game and her funeral is next Monday in Richmond, Virginia, so my whole family will be traveling up for that.

I spent Saturday in Lexington for the Kentucky/Louisville game, which was awesome. It was crazy, definitely the best crowd I’ve ever seen at UK. When they came out at the beginning, it felt like a big-time college game, which is really good when you’re trying to sell the program to recruits. It was a tough outcome, but what I definitely took away from the game was if Louisville’s the #7 team in the country, we’re not really far off. We beat ourselves more than Louisville beat us.

The 2014 commits in town were me, Darius West, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Mike Edwards, Mikel Horton, Dorian Hendrix, Boom Williams, Adrian Middleton and Jarrett LaRubbio. Landon Young, the 2016 commit from LaFayette was there too, and he’s a beast. Recruit wise, of course Matt Elam was there. We’re still trying really hard to get him, and he got to hang out on the field before the game and talk to the coaches and stuff. He had another really good visit, which only solidifies my opinion that we’re in great position with him and I really think we have a great shot. He was really excited by how the defense played in the first half, getting to Bridgewater, and very encouraged by how the defensive line was playing under Coach Brumbaugh. I thought it helped a lot that he got to see it in person in that type of atmosphere. He’s coming back for the Alabama game, as are a lot of the guys, so that will be another big opportunity. Matt’s the main guy we’re going after, so we were really on him the whole time about joining the Big Blue Nation.

After the game, I got to hang out with the coaches and they were telling me and the other guys that were there that if you look at who made the big plays, they were all new guys and freshmen, which is a great sign of things to come. It goes to show that they’re staying true to their word that if you come to UK, you can get early playing time and we’re really going to turn it around, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Watching the game with the rest of the 2014 commits was great. We were all picturing ourselves out on the field. Right now, it’s all talk, so it doesn’t mean much, but we definitely wanted to be out there making those plays. I was itching to go out there, and I know the other guys were feeling the same way. My plan all along has been to come in and compete for the starting job. I’m going to bust my butt and work my hardest to reach my potential and definitely try to win the job. I know Max, Jalen, Patrick and Reese are going to be working hard and they already have a leg up on me right now. They’re doing a great job after getting thrown into the new system, and I’m watching them pretty closely. I’m really excited to play in that offense. Just seeing the playmakers they have at wideout and running back is really exciting and I can’t wait to practice and play with those guys.

Seeing the young guys like JoJo Kemp, Alex Montgomery, Ryan Timmons and Javess Blue doing well is really encouraging. They came to UK thinking they can play right away, and they have. The coaches are saying that after this class that’s playing now, our class (2014) and the 2015 class comes in, we will be able to compete head-to-head with anybody in the conference. It’s gonna be really fun to watch, and you can already see the difference the coaches have made. The players aren’t giving up and are playing a lot harder than they were last year. They have a sense of confidence to them, which is really a testament to Coach Stoops and the staff changing the attitude and the system. They held Teddy Bridgewater, who will probably be the first quarterback drafted this year. The defense rattled him in the first half. Everyone predicted Louisville to blow us out and we were hanging right there for the most part. Little things cost us the game, so it shows how good of a staff Coach Stoops has.

Hanging out after the game with Andrew Way, my dad, and Coach Stoops!

Hanging out after the game with Andrew Way, my dad, and Coach Stoops!

The fact that UK’s lost two games so far isn’t scaring anyone off, either. In fact, it’s the opposite. Watching the games has the commits thinking they can come in and play right away, just like the guys in the 2013 class have. I know Darius West took a visit to another school, but it was with his cousin. He’s obviously a big name and he wanted to help his cousin out. He told me he’s 100% committed, and I could see it at the UofL game. I don’t think anybody’s going anywhere. We’re all 100% committed to UK.

I haven’t done any number crunching, but I think the staff can still add three or four more recruits to the 2014 class. Obviously Elam is high on the list, and I think they’re trying to add another offensive lineman, another wide receiver, and another athlete guy on defense. Dorian Baker is a wideout they’re looking at. He was supposed to visit for the Louisville game but couldn’t make it. They’re also looking at Roger Lewis, a former Ohio State commitment; and Isaiah McKenzie, an athlete who just came on the radar. He’s from Florida and plays offense and defense, but has one of, if not the best highlight tapes I’ve seen in the whole 2014 class. He’s not really rated high at all, but is a playmaker. They’re all guys who can come in and compete right away.


Some of Isaiah McKenzie’s highlights

Just watching the guys out there makes me want to be on the field with them as soon as possible. I feel like I can get the offense moving, be a facilitator in getting the ball to the playmakers, spread the ball around, and hit first downs and third downs. I’m not really used to losing, so I want to bring the winning mentality to Kentucky. This team is a lot better than they were against Western Kentucky. Even when they were losing to Western and Louisville, those guys were still going hard to the end of the whistle and nobody quit. It’s definitely been a really big change since Stoops came in. Before, I think they kind of accepted losing, and now, these coaches refuse to do that, which is how it should be. I hate losing. I hate losing more than I like winning.

Looking ahead, one chance the team might have for an upset is against Florida. Florida’s offense hasn’t looked good at all this year, so if things go our way and we win the turnover battle, I don’t see any reason why we can’t pull off the upset. It’s at Commonwealth, so I think we have a legitimate chance.


The Drew Barker Diary: Football is finally here

The Drew Barker Diary: Football is finally here

diary-barker

Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:

Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening
The New Kentucky Football

Hey guys, how’s it going? I just started my high school season with a scrimmage against Beechwood this past weekend. I think I did pretty good (17/22 for 178 yards and one touchdown passing, 15 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns rushing), I probably could have had more yards, but it was a running clock. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from our team because we lost most of our line from last year and a big playmaker in Cameron Fogle, who’s now a walk-on at UK, but I was really happy with our performance. Our offensive and defensive lines really dominated the game, we had some other guys step up and we got the win, so that’s really good. We have another scrimmage coming up this Friday against St. Bernard out of Ohio, and then our first real game will be August 31st at Thomas Moore College at 1:00, so I’m really looking forward to that too.

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A lot of you guys might be surprised that I had so many yards on the ground, but in each of the past two seasons, I had over 1,400 yards rushing. Because of the Elite 11 and all the other passing camps I’ve been to, most people really underestimate that part of my game, but I can tuck it down and run too. Beechwood was playing three down lineman and dropping eight guys into coverage, so when I see that many guys in coverage protecting the pass, I might as well tuck it down and run it for 15 yards. That way, I can keep the defense honest and make them play 11-on-11 football. If they want to play back, then I’ll run it; if they want to play up, then I’ll throw it. Obviously, once I get to college, the speed is completely different, so I won’t be running nearly as much, but I am a threat to tuck it down and get a first down with my feet too.

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When I haven’t been on the field, I’ve been following the Cats in their fall camp, too. I went down for Fan Day on the 9th, and it was really fun. It kinda stunk that it rained for the practice, but it was really cool to be there, especially since TV Williams came too. It was fun to hang out with him and his family, and also to interact with the coaches again, sit in on the quarterback meetings, talk with the players and watch a practice live. It’s neat to see how the coaches were coaching up close and get a little preview of what the season will be like.

I felt like the guys are a lot more confidence since Coach Stoops came on board. Confidence breeds confidence, and that’s really good because you have to have that “swagger” to play against the best players and teams in the SEC. I also noticed how fast they were practicing as opposed to the past. I have some friends on the team that told me how different it was, and even though they heard it would be fast, they didn’t realize it would be this fast! I’m definitely looking forward to playing in that offense.

All of the commits are taking our official visits to UK on the same day as Matt Elam. Coach Stoops told us he doesn’t want us to take our officials during the season because you’re not able to hang out with the coaches as much because they’re so busy preparing for games. He told us it was better to take them during the off-season, when we can just hang out, go to a basketball game, chill and build better relationships. So, we’ll all be there with Matt that day, which goes back to the family atmosphere at UK right now. I always tell him that I don’t think he could go anywhere else–Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, wherever–and have that bond that he does with our class. He’s really connected to a lot of the guys, and I think that bond and trustworthiness is really important in his decision. If he comes to UK, he knows he’ll be automatically welcome, which might not the case at some of the other schools.

So, I’ll be at UK that weekend and then I’m going to San Antonio for the Army All-American game with Matt on January 4th (we’ll even be on the same team). We get back on January 5th, and then I move into UK on January 11th before classes start on the 13th. Time is flying!

Enrolling early was a big decision. High school was fun, I’m going to miss all of my friends, but why not go down to UK, start learning the offense, and get in the program instead of sitting in high school messing around for a few extra months. The way I see it, you might as well start working toward the goal you’re striving for. My main motivation is to get there early and play in the spring practice and the spring game. I’m really looking forward to it, and hopefully I can end my high school career with a state championship before I head to UK. And yes, I can still go to my prom and graduation.

I was actually planning to go to Nashville for the Western game, but since my first game is that afternoon, we’re going to have a party at my house to watch it instead. I’m planning at being at every single home game this season, and I’m really looking forward to it. I know they’re preparing really hard and had their first scrimmage this Saturday. I heard the offense started out good, but the defense ended up winning, but I’m just really looking forward to watching Coach Brown’s offense and seeing the improvements the new staff has made in the players from last year.

You guys probably remember how I teased that there was a “Yahtzee” brewing on Twitter a few weeks ago. It’s still in the making, I promise. My man Blake Bone tweeted yesterday that he was making his decision in a couple of weeks, and I feel pretty good about our chances. I’m not 100% sure he’ll commit, but I think he’d be a great fit in the Air Raid offense. We need big outside receivers, and he’s 6’5″, can run and has great hands. He’s a really cool guy too, I got to hang out with him in person earlier this summer when he and a bunch of the commits came down for the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp. He’s kind of got a bond with all the guys already, and hopefully he makes a good decision and comes on board to the Big Blue Nation.

We’re still going after Braxton Berrios, who is planning on taking his official for the Louisville game. I still feel pretty good about him. We just need to get him on campus, because then, anything can happen. He already stayed a weekend one time and really like it, so it’s good that he’s coming back.

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Right now, I’m just ready to get back on the field. There’s nothing better than football season. You’ve got four straight days of football–Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. I know my coaches and parents probably don’t like hearing this, but I like to go out there and get hit! I kind of can’t wait until the real games start and I know we have a good shot of making the state championship, where we could maybe play Matt [Elam]’s team. Conner and John Hardin are both 5A and will be on opposite sides of the bracket, so if that happened, we’d have a pretty big crowd of Kentucky fans.

Also, if you didn’t catch the Elite 11 show last night, it will be replaying all week. Having Coach Dilfer tell me I was in the Elite 11 fraternity was definitely the greatest honor of my career so far.

Talk to you guys soon!


The Drew Barker Diary: The new Kentucky Football

The Drew Barker Diary: The new Kentucky Football

diary-barker

Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:

Laying a Foundation
Keeping the momentum going
Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening

Hey guys! Since the Elite 11, everything kind of slowed down and now I’m back working with my team. We’re doing our 7-on-7 passing league now with other schools in the area and that’s going really well. I’m pretty excited about some of our upcoming receivers we have that not many people know about, and I think we’re going to be really good this year.

From a UK standpoint, we just had a really big recruiting weekend this past weekend, and I know all the fans are really freaking out because we only got one commitment, but just be patient. It just shows how much times have changed because people are actually freaking out over how we only got one Yahtzee in a weekend. It’s pretty funny how that goes!

Just talking with the coaches and being there with all the guys at the Friday Night Blue Lights camp was great. The commitments who came to the camp were myself, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Dorian Hendrix, Darius West, Denzel Ware, Derrick Kelly, TV Williams, and Stanley Williams. We also had some big targets in town like Matt Elam, Braxton Berrios, Brady Taylor, Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson, Moral Stephens, and Cory Johnson, who obviously committed while we were there. It was great to be with the guys again and I think the recruits liked it. We had a really good time there, showing them everything. I thought the camp was really cool too. It was a good atmosphere, under the lights and Dorian and I actually participated. It was great to get out there and work with the coaches some more with some of the potential receivers we might have.

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Me and Denzel Ware

I went to a camp at UK before Coach Stoops came in and one after, so this was my third. I think the biggest difference from the previous staff’s camp is that UK’s camp now feels like a big-time college camp. I went to Ohio State, Alabama, and other big schools’ camps, and now UK’s are starting to get that feel. The prospects coming in aren’t really paying attention to the “old Kentucky” as some people would say. This staff is really focused on the future of the program and the recruiting class we have right now is a great starting point. Everything now just feels right and you can feel something special happening.

Even being out on the field at Commonwealth Stadium just felt right. It felt like a place I needed to be. I would just look up and around and think about how I can’t wait to play here. It felt completely natural, like the perfect fit. It made me really glad I chose Kentucky and just imagining the place packed in a few years makes me really look forward to it.

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Me, Matt Elam, and Braxton Berrios met some fans at the mall.

I really like the family feel in UK football right now. I was telling some of the recruits that at some schools, they claim to have a big family atmosphere, but at UK, every coach is involved with you, from Coach Brown, Coach Schlarman, Coach Mainord on offense to Coach Ansley, Coach Eliot, Coach Brumbaugh and all the coaches on defense. Everyone is involved with you and they know every recruit. I think that’s pretty special because you don’t find that in many places. Usually, it’s just the position coach or offensive or defensive coordinator recruiting you at whatever position you play.

It was great to get out there and throw to some of our top targets. Three that stood out to me at the camp were Dorian Baker, Moral Stephens and Garrett Johnson. Dorian Baker is a wide receiver out of Ohio who I hadn’t really heard much about, but he came to camp and lit it up. He ran a 4.46 40-yard-dash and either a high 3.9 or 4 flat shuttle, which at his size (6’3″, 210 lbs.) is ridiculous. He’s already built like a SEC wideout. To go along with the speed, agility, and quickness, he also had great hands. He’s the guy for me that I thought had the most eye-opening performance, and the coaches definitely took notice. He told me that he’s going to come back with his mom on an official visit because she wants to see everything. Another guy who stood out was Moral Stephens, a wideout from Florida. He’s really big, like 6’5″, so that’s definitely a big target we’re looking to add on the outside as a deep threat. He had great hands too, and moved really well for a big guy. Definitely one of those targets you want to have in the red zone or to go deep. He did really well at the camp. Garrett Johnson, a slot receiver out of Florida, did very well too. He was very fast in getting in and out of his cuts. He actually really surprised me too, for how quick he was and how good his hands were.

It was also great to hang out with Matt Elam again. Matt’s one of my good friends and a great kid. To be honest, I have a really good feeling that he’ll come to Kentucky, but it’s going to be a long time until he announces at the Army All-American Game in San Antonio. I’m going to be at that game too, so I’ll be right there next to him when he makes his decision on national TV. Once again, he had a great trip to Kentucky. I think we’re all going to try to schedule our official visits together at the same time, and he lives in Kentucky too, so I’m sure I’ll see him at a couple of other games too on unofficial visits. Like I said, I feel really good about him and if he did commit to Kentucky, I think that would bring a lot more exposure to Coach Stoops and the program with him putting on UK’s hat over ones from Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State on national TV.

Braxton Berrios also came to the camp. This was Braxton’s first time visiting Kentucky. He got there during the middle of the camp on Friday night and stayed until Monday afternoon, so that was a good long visit for him. That’s good because he got to see everything and hang out, do cool things around campus, meet the coaches, etc. Basically, we just told him how he could be used in this offense. Why wouldn’t you want to come play in this offense in his role? You can come in and get early playing time. The way he is, he’s so versatile you could give him 10-15 touches a game. It would be a big offense for Braxton, and I know the coaches are really high on him. I think it was a great overall visit, and he said he’s planning to take an official visit soon, and decide sometime around September or October.

I’m sure you guys saw the pictures of the new uniforms Matt Elam tweeted out over the weekend. We were all just chilling in Coach Stoops’ office–Matt, Braxton, a couple of coaches and myself. We had seen some of the new uniforms before but did a really good job of keeping them quiet. There’s also a couple of other things that haven’t been revealed yet, but I won’t say much about that because I know they don’t want me to. Definitely some really, really cool things. Some people say if you look good, you play good, so guys like that stuff. Just to see all of the different uniform combinations was really cool, and all of the guys liked it.

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Overall, I think everyone had a really good time and I think we’re going to get some big news here shortly on a couple of guys. Brady Taylor, a huge offensive lineman out of Ohio, decides on Monday. On the field, he’s really mean and tough, which is a guy you want blocking for you in the SEC. He’s a real blue collar kid, a hard worker. You’re not going to hear any bad things about him in the media because he keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. A couple of the other commitments and I sat down with him with the coaches for about an hour and gave him the reasons why we chose Kentucky and why he should come. I hope we can get him because he’s a really big time player, and he’ll be a huge get for us and the offensive line. In the SEC, the games are won in the trenches with the offensive and defensive lines, so you definitely have to have really good players in those spots.

Nick Richardson should be announcing his decision sometime next week, too. He’s also another offensive lineman out of Ohio. He’s a top 200, four-star guy, very highly recruited, so that would also be another huge get to bring him and Brady in both of the same week. It could potentially put us back to the number one recruiting class. Nick’s also a really big dude, a strong, get-in-your-face type of guy. He’s also really athletic for how big he is, so we need those kind of guys who can run with the [Jadeveon] Clowneys in the SEC.

For me, we start our team camp on August 1, so we’ll be practicing at 7 a.m. every morning during two-a-days, which leads all the way up to our first scrimmage on the 16th at Beechwood High School. They’re 1A, but they’re always a contender for the State Championship every single year, so it will be a good challenge.

I’ll check in with you guys in a few weeks! Go Cats.


The Drew Barker Diary: Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening

The Drew Barker Diary: Recapping The Elite 11/The Opening

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Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:
The Drew Barker Diary: Laying a Foundation
The Drew Barker Diary: Keeping the Momentum Going

Hey Big Blue Nation! I’ve had a busy few weeks, but it’s great to be back in the Bluegrass. I spent last week at the Nike Headquarters in Oregon for the Elite 11 Finals and The Opening, which was a great experience. Here’s how it all went down.

I arrived out in Oregon at the Nike headquarters last Thursday morning, and they gave us a ton of sweet Nike gear and cleats, limited edition stuff, which was really cool. We had our first workout that evening, which was pretty neat because they had “college counselors” to help us out, so the top quarterbacks in the country that could make it, including Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd from Clemson, Teddy Bridgewater, and David Fales from San Jose State. It was cool to spend time with them because that’s where we all want to be in the next three or four years.

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Hanging out with Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd

Seeing Teddy Bridgewater was pretty cool. I had met him before on visits to Louisville, but I haven’t seen him since I committed to Kentucky. He was kind of teasing me about going to Kentucky, but was very courteous about the new staff. He said he’s seen all of the recruiting efforts and is glad UK is on the rise because it would be good for the rivalry and the state to not only have two really good basketball teams, but two good football teams as well. He’s a really nice guy, and pretty cool about it all.

On the second day, right before we went to bed, Coach Dilfer told us to make sure to set our alarms for 4:30 a.m., which was way before our scheduled wake up time of 7 a.m. He didn’t tell us why, so we were all wondering what the heck was going to happen. We went to bed pretty late because we had a bunch of meetings and film to watch, so all of a sudden at 4 a.m., there was a knock on our door. My roommate answered the door and the guy told us to meet down in the lobby in ten minutes. It wasn’t even 4:30 a.m. yet! I guess they were trying to catch us off guard. So, we got dressed really quick, went to the lobby, and all the quarterbacks got into these cars without any idea where we were going. All of a sudden, we started going up a really steep hill, and we saw a sign that says “Cooper Mountain.” We pulled off to the side at this restort-type area and Coach Dilfer told us we were going to be running up the mountain. I remembered from last year’s Elite 11 that the players had to go do a marine workout on the beach, so this year, we got to do a 4-mile mountain run. We ran down first, then had to run back up. It was really, really hard. Definitely one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, and a cool experience.

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Deshaun Watson (a Clemson commit) and I with our new friend Adeline.

We also worked with a charity called NEGU (Never Ever Give Up), who works with kids who are terminally ill with cancer or other diseases. The charity goes to hospitals and gives each kid a “joy jar” that’s full of toys and other stuff to raise their spirits and inspire them to never give up. They brought some of the kids out to the camp and two quarterbacks were paired with each child. The child I worked with was Adeline Lambert. She’s six years old and has already had leukemia for a year. She’s been undergoing treatments for that and we got to meet her and talk to her mom and her little sisters, which was pretty cool. Spending time with them teaches you to never take anything for granted and makes you realize how blessed we really are, because there are people out in the world who aren’t as fortunate as us. It was really cool to share that experience with them. That’s something I noticed about the Elite 11 camp. They taught us a lot about football, but also taught us there is a lot more to life than football, like giving back.

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Football wise, I kind of started off a little slow in the camp, because it was mostly drills and throwing routes and not game scenarios. When The Opening started and the skill players started reporting for the 7-on-7 drills, I really started to turn it up in real game situations. A lot of the quarterbacks weren’t really good in the 7-on-7 format, because even though a lot of those guys are super good, they’re going against the top defensive backs in the country, so even if they’re off by a second, it’s going to be a batted ball or interception. During the 7-on-7 part, I did really well and that’s what put me into the final Elite 11. Of course, the one game they put on TV was my worst game of the whole tournament! I had prided myself on having 14 or 15 touchdowns and only one interception that day, and then I had two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game on TV. But, it was still really fun and I’m grateful for the experience. It was awesome.

It was good to see Braxton Berrios at The Opening. I think we have a really good chance with him. He hasn’t visited yet, but he’s going to come down the weekend of July 19th for the Friday Night Lights camp, which all of the 2014 commits and top targets are coming to as well, like Matt Elam and Stanton Truitt. A lot of people wrote Braxton off to Miami when they offered him, but to be honest, I don’t think he’s a lock to Miami at all. He told me that he doesn’t know why everyone thinks that. He did say it was his dream school, but also that they’re going through a lot with the NCAA right now, so I still think we’ve got a really good shot. If you saw him compete at the SPARQ combine on ESPN, you saw what a pure athlete he is. He ran a 4.48 40 and had the fastest shuttle time at the camp with a 3.81. He’s a really good football player too. I watched him play and he was just carving up defenses in the slot, which would be perfect for the Air Raid offense.

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How about my man TV Williams! TV is a really big get for us. He’s not really that highly rated because of his size, but he’s lightning fast and if you watch his highlight film, you can tell he’s a playmaker in the open field. In the Air Raid offense, you need those type of guys who can dump down screens and take a one-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. It’ll be great to have TV as one of my targets. If you just throw a little bubble screen to him, he can take it to the house from any distance on the field. He’s definitely a home-run type player who can give you that big play when you really need it. It’s also big that TV’s from Texas, because it shows how UK is recruiting nationally now.

Like I told you earlier, all of the 2014 commitments and the top targets are coming down for the Friday Night Lights camp the weekend of July 19th. The guys we’ve got coming in are Matt Elam; Braxton Berrios; Stanton Truitt, an athlete from Georgia; Moral Stephens, a 4-star WR from Florida who the staff might turn into a tight end; Garrett Johnson, a slot receiver out of Florida; and a couple of lineman that we’re really going after. From the 2015 class, we’re having Damien Harris out of Madison Southern, he’s a really good player and Alex Ofodile, a top ten wide receiver. It’ll be really good to have those guys on campus and it’s definitely going to be another big weekend like we had a month ago.

I’m still hitting up guys on Twitter encouraging them to join us at UK. My list has kind of been narrowed down a little bit because of all the guys committing, but that’s made it a little easier to focus on the 10-15 guys we really want to keep in touch with. I’d say our top five targets right now are Matt Elam, Braxton Berrios, Brady Taylor, Nick Richardson, and Ray Raulerson. So, three offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, and a wide receiver. The O-Line is really important and we only have a couple of O-Line commits so far, but we’re right in there for some top of the line guys. It’s really important for us to get that foundation started.

My senior season actually starts tomorrow, when the dead period ends. We’re starting our 7-on-7s on Thursday, when we start playing local schools. Our season starts with a bye week, so our first game will be August 31 against Boone County at home. We actually thought of driving down to Nashville to see the UK/Western Kentucky game, but since our first game is on the same day because it’s part of a showcase, we’re going to have to watch it on TV instead. Thankfully, our game kicks off at 1 p.m, so I’ll be able to see all of it. I’m going to try to come to every home game, and I can’t wait to feel the excitement in Commonwealth Stadium.

I’m also going to try my hardest to make it to the KSR tour stop in Maysville on July 24th, so if you’re in the area, come on out and say hi!


The Drew Barker Diary: Keeping the momentum going

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Hey guys! A lot has happened since the last time I wrote. I’ll start with the Elite 11 Quarterback Competition in Columbus that I went to about a week and a half ago. It was the second Elite 11 I’ve been to, so I felt really prepared for this one since I already knew all the drills and stuff. I did really well and as they were naming off the names of the finalists on Twitter that night, I was really getting nervous waiting for mine to pop up. The next day, I went to the Nike football training camp at Ohio State, and at the very beginning of the camp, we were doing some stretching exercises and one of the camp guys came over, took me out of the drill and said my dad wanted to talk to me, which was pretty random. I went over to my dad on the sidelines and he asked me, “What did you do yesterday? What did you say?”. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about, and he said that the coaches were really mad at me because they overheard me saying something bad about one of them. I kept telling him I didn’t say anything and was starting to get worried. My dad told me that I needed to go talk to Coach (Trent) Dilfer about it immediately because they weren’t happy.

So, I went over to Coach Dilfer and said “Coach, I heard you overheard me saying something about a coach?” Coach Dilfer said, “Yeah, we overheard you saying that you wanted to come out to Oregon and compete in the Finals. You’re invited.” I was like, “Aww man!” They all tricked me. They have it on film and I didn’t even realize it. It was pretty funny. They told me that I was one of the first quarterbacks they picked that night but they just wanted to mess with me because I was a good kid and they knew I was coming back the next day.

I’ve always wanted to be in the Elite 11 competition because something like 28 of the current 32 NFL starters competed in it and there’s always a lot of big games to come out of it. We just got the playbook, which is about 60 plays long, and all of the plays are NFL style. It’s going to be really fun, and I just need to make sure I memorize all of the plays so I’m ready to go out there and tear it up.

At the Nike Football Training Camp, I met up with Thaddeus Snodgrass and Darryl Long. I was even able to hook up with Thaddeus for a 40-yard touchdown, which should be a good preview for you guys of what’s to come. We were all hanging out and scoring touchdowns and repping UK, which was great. This past weekend, I went to the Nike 5-Star Challenge in Chicago, where I roomed with Artavis Scott, a wide receiver from Florida. I surprised him with a shirt I had made with “Kentucky Football” on the front and his name and number on the back. He thought that was really cool and wore it around a lot. A lot of the guys up there had already committed to other schools, but I talked to Josh Mullins, a 2015 wide receiver from Tennessee and a couple of guys from Texas about UK and they seemed really interested.


“Barker to Snodgrass…TOUCHDOWN KENTUCKY!”

These past few days, I’ve really been recruiting hard. I came down to Lexington after the Rivals 5-Star Challenge on Monday and met up with the rest of the 2014 commitments. It was great to talk to guys like Matt Elam, who is probably our number one priority right now (more on him later). It was also great to see the other commits there and show our love for the program. TV Williams, a wide receiver from Texas, was there, he’s another guy that we’re working on bringing with us. He was great during workouts at camp on Tuesday. He’s really fast, good with routes, and has the speed that will work in the Air Raid offense. It’s really important to have those guys who you can get the ball to and then they’ll take it to the house. Blake Bone was also at the UK camp, and I talked to him a lot, too. Good wide receivers are definitely a priority for us right now.

During the camp, the coaches worked with us one-on-one, which was great. I was able to get Coach Brown and (UK grad assistant) Tyler Sargent’s advice and they said they really liked what they saw and can’t wait to coach me. I’ll be down there a lot for camps and hopefully I’ll be working with them some more. I wasn’t there for the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp, but they guys that were said that it was insane, with 300 to 400 campers. You’ve probably heard how they had music blaring and stuff, which is great, because that’s how most of the major camps do it and recruits really like it. It’s cool, and definitely more of a relaxed, fun environment than UK’s prior camps. The other commits said that seeing how many kids came out to a Kentucky football camp and how improved it was over a year ago was really eye-opening.

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Me and Matt Elam

We’re all recruiting really hard and it’s starting to pay off. We pulled in a lot of great guys in the last couple of days. Denzel Ware is a freak athlete. He’s 6’1″, 240 lbs. and can run a 10.9 100 (yard dash), which for those of you who don’t know track terms, would equate to like a 4.52 40, which is outrageously fast and that’s what you need on the outside rushing the quarterback in the SEC. I think he’s a really big get and a really good guy. A lot of people got on him for decommitting in the first place, but you have to remember he didn’t even visit UK when he committed the last time. I think you definitely should visit a place before you commit, and he wanted to make sure it was the right decision for him.

Mike (Edwards) is a very versatile player who can play corner or safety. He can even help out in the return game a little bit if we need him to. He’s got a really good knack for finding the ball and we need those guys in the secondary. He’s got great fundamentals. Darius (West) is really big and strong. He looks like a big time safety. He’s fast, hits really hard, and like Mike, also has a really good knack for the ball. He’s a playmaker and isn’t scared of anybody. He can go head-to-head with the best and he’ll make big plays day in and day out. Having him chose us is big, but it’s also good that he chose us over schools like Notre Dame because the national media and other recruits will see that, and realize how Kentucky football has changed.

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Hyped right after the commitments!

I wasn’t there when Denzel recommitted, but I was there when Mike and Darius committed, and it was crazy. I was right next to them, and I knew they were going to do it beforehand, even though Darius tried to pull one over on me. He said, “What would you say if I went to another school?” and told me UK was his number three school, but I knew he was just messing with me. After that, he went into the coach’s office and committed and we all celebrated. There were probably about 15-20 of us in the room when he committed, and everyone starting whooping and yelling. The coaches immediately wanted to take pictures of all of us, which are the ones I posted on Instagram. It was really exciting and we were trying to get Matt (Elam) to give us a commitment, but he’s partnering with the Army Game, so we understand why he has to wait. I’ll be at the Army Game, so I’m going to be right next to him when he announces his decision. Hopefully that decision will require him wearing blue and white! I know he got an offer from Notre Dame yesterday, but I think he had a really good time at UK and wants to stay home, so I’m not really worried.

It’s really awesome to be able to get to hang out with these guys so early on and form friendships. Kobie Walker, the outside linebacker commit, needed a ride from the Louisville airport to campus, so I drove to the airport and got him and then took him back at the end. We’re all really close. All of the 2014 commits and top targets are going to come back to UK in July for the Friday Night Blue Lights Camp, so it will be great to see everyone again.

I don’t know Nico (Firios) personally that well yet, but I know he’s ranked the number two outside linebacker in Florida. He’s really big, like 6’2″, 225, and he runs a low 4.5 almost 4.4 (40-yard dash), which is crazy for a guy that big. We really need guys with that kind of speed in the linebacking corps. They’re going to be guarding the running backs, and in the SEC, those guys run a 4.3/4.4, so that’s a big get. Thaddeus Snodgrass was the one who’s been recruiting Nico the hardest. Nico visited UK this past weekend and Thaddeus told me two days ago he was going to commit, so that was all him. I talked to Nico briefly and he said he’s going to come down with us soon. Having him come on board and push us into the Top 5 was huge because it showed other recruits that we’re not messing around and Kentucky is the hottest team on the recruiting trail right now. To be honest, I didn’t think our recruiting class would ever be ranked as high as number four, but it’s awesome. We’re still bringing in other guys, especially wideouts, who are right on the verge of committing. We’re just working hard every day to keep recruiting and try to keep this momentum going.

What’s next for me? The Elite 11 and The Opening, which is June 28th to July 3rd. Other than that, I’m just going to relax, take it easy, and work on recruiting. Thanks for reading!


The Drew Barker Diary: Laying a Foundation

The Drew Barker Diary: Laying a Foundation

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2014 UK Football commitment Drew Barker has agreed to do a biweekly diary for KSR over the summer and throughout his senior season about his life, his game, and his mission to bring the nation’s top talent with him to Lexington. Please join us in welcoming Drew to the KSR family!

 

Hey guys, I’m really excited to share my thoughts with you on KSR for the next year. The BBN has a lot to look forward to.

A lot of people have been asking me why I decided to come to Kentucky. Deciding to come to UK over the other schools was a really tough decision and there wasn’t really one deciding factor, just the fact that if I went somewhere else and saw UK doing really well, and I knew I missed the boat, that would really stink. Also, I know there are a lot of tremendous opportunities after football for Kentucky born quarterbacks, so that’s hard to pass up.

Things are really changing in Kentucky football. I felt the vibe at the Spring Game, which was really what drew it even between UK and South Carolina. I had been there earlier that week to watch practice and it was the first time I got to see the offense for myself, so I liked it, but I was still kind of wavering. I went down there again for a practice on Friday and stayed the weekend. The fan support at the Spring Game was awesome, and that’s how it should be. All of the other big time SEC schools have 80,000 there every week, and seeing how pumped up everyone was at the Cat Walk shows me the BBN can be like that and even better.

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I went on visits to games when the old staff was there my sophomore year and there was barely anyone at the Cat Walk, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but there were people around the block! It was crazy! People were yelling our names and made signs for all of us. It was unreal, definitely a new side of Kentucky football that I had never seen before. The other guys noticed it too. At the time, I wasn’t really recruiting for Kentucky, but I could tell the other recruits really enjoyed it. It’s really just the new staff. They’re awesome, and they show these guys a lot of love. I could tell by the looks on everyone’s faces that they were enjoying it.

One of the things that set UK apart in my recruitment was that all the coaches got involved. When I would go there on my visits, I literally ate lunch with every single coach on the staff both offense and defense every day, which is crazy. At the other schools, it was mostly just the offensive coaches recruiting me, so I thought it was cool that Coach Eliot, the defensive coordinator, would take the time to recruit me too.

I’m really excited about the Air Raid. On my visit, Coach Brown showed me a Power Point presentation that showed the stats from Texas Tech, Kentucky, and all of the schools that were recruiting me, like plays per game, yards per game, sacks allowed, average yards per game, first downs, every offensive stat you could think of. He had it laid out in a Power Point for me and was just going through and showing stats and after that, he showed me cut-ups from Texas Tech games and all the plays. We spent a few hours in the film room and he showed me everything there was. I’m even going down there this summer to go to camp, which will give me a pretty good head start when I go down there in February to win the starting job.

Speaking of, my goal is to graduate from high school early, go down to UK and compete in spring practice. Fans will be able to see me play in the Spring Game, and I’m going to try to win the starting job. I’m not really programmed to take a back seat, so if the coaches say I’m probably going to redshirt, that doesn’t mean I’m going to take practice lightly. I’m going to go in there working hard and busting my butt to get the starting job, and just in case I fall short and have to redshirt, that’s not a problem because it will give me a year to learn. Johnny Manziel redshirted and he won the Heisman, and if he didn’t redshirt, I’m not sure he would be in the position he is now, so there are some benefits to redshirting, too.

One of the things you may have noticed we’re doing is the @UK2014Class Twitter account. When I was getting recruited, Tennessee and Ohio State had accounts like this to DM (direct message) and tweet at me, and it’s a great way to get the fans to interact with the players. These days, the guys really love having their Twitter feed blow up with love from the fans and it also gives fans a better in-depth look at who we’re recruiting. All the kids we’re tweeting at are top targets. A lot of people think it’s just me going after these guys, but all the commits are hitting up these guys, so it’s definitely a team effort.

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Who are we going after? I’m constantly messaging guys, but the ones at the top of my list are Braxton Berrios, a receiver out of Raleigh, North Carolina; Derek Keif, a receiver out of Cincinnati; Artavis Scott, a wide receiver from Florida; Matt Elam, a defensive lineman from John Hardin; Darius West, a safety from Ohio; Stanley “Boom” Williams, an all-purpose back from Georgia…there are so many. I literally have a sheet with all the names of the guys I want to join me at UK. I took a picture for you guys of the sheet with the offensive names, which aren’t in any particular order. I’ve got one for the defensive guys too. I’ve met a lot of the guys during camps and visits, and we’ve stayed in touch. For all the guys we’re recruiting, I’ve watched their film multiple times and researched them and everything.

I try to recruit each player by their position. When I talk to a receiver, I’ll give them some of the stats Coach Brown gave me about the offense, like how many yards per game, how many yards per game we’re trying to get off. The first thing I look at in a wide receiver is a good attitude. Wide receivers kind of have the biggest egos of all the positions, so if I hit somebody up and can tell they’re really egotistical and don’t want to talk or anything, that’s the first thing I notice. Same thing goes for the intangibles, height, size, feet and speed are important too, and obviously route running and good hands. I’ve seen most of these guys we’re going after in person, so I feel pretty comfortable about who we’re recruiting. They’re also really good kids too, which is important.

Early playing time is definitely a big factor for a lot of these guys, and that’s how we can get them. Some of the high profile guys are like “oh man, that’s Kentucky,” but I tell them that I chose Kentucky and I had the same offers as them and it’s really different with the new staff. I’m really trying to push them to visit and see how different things are. I also don’t always talk about recruiting because I know how annoying that was when guys would try to recruit me. I’ll just hit them up sometimes and see what’s up and how they’re doing and things like that.

Let me tell you about the other guys who have already committed to UK. Dorian (Hendrix), the first commitment, is a really cool guy, he worked really hard to recruit me before I committed to UK and is very dedicated to the recruiting others. Thaddeus (Snodgrass) is a beast, and he had a ton of offers from big schools and we’ve been friends for quite a while. Kobie Walker is really cool and big. They’re planning on putting some weight on him and moving him to outside linebacker, but he’s a freak athlete and you can tell by the frame of his body. He’s a great pickup and he’s from Maryland, which has a lot of great players. It would be great to open up that pipeline to the Northeast. Our first O-Line commitment from Jarret LaRubbio was big because they’re the ones protecting me. I’ve been going after him for a while, so I was happy when he committed. Darryl Long, the tight end, is really cool. He’s big and has only been playing tight end for a couple of years, so he’s still learning and it’s already starting to click for him. He’s a freak, and a really good steal for us. Ty (Dubose) is huge. In the SEC, you’ve gotta have big guys like him who are a little freakish on your team, so that’s great for us. They’re all good guys and we’re really laying a foundation for really good things to come.

timmons-barker-fogle
Ryan Timmons, me and Cameron Fogle

I also talk to a lot of guys on the current team like Patrick Towles, Landon Foster, Langston Newton, Jordan Swindle, and a lot of the 2013 commits too, like Ryan Timmons, my buddy Cameron Fogle (who’s walking on at UK), Javess Blue, Jeff Badet, and Alex Mongtomery. We’re already building pretty good relationships, which is good.

One really exciting thing the 2014 commits are doing is taking a trip to Lexington in early June. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to join them until the 10th because I’m going to the Rivals 5-star Challenge at Soldier Field. They invited the top 100 players in the country and only chose four quarterbacks, so that will be a pretty neat deal. They’re flying me out for free, which is awesome. I’ll be up there from June 7-9, so I’ll be back at UK on the 10th. They’re having a Saturday Night Primetime Camp for the top targets to come visit, and all the commits are coming down. Mikel Horton is coming down on the 6th, and a bunch of the guys plan on staying the whole week. It’s going to be really cool, and a ton of big time recruits are going to be there. We’re going to have (Stanley) Boom Williams, a top 100 kid and Denzel Ware, who decommitted from UK and I’m hoping will commit back to us. There’s just going to be a ton of talent unlike anything UK’s ever seen before. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve got a lot of plans for this summer. Football related, I’m going to the 5-star camp in Chicago, and this weekend, I’m going to an Elite 11 Regional in Columbus at Ohio State. Non-football related, I really like hanging out with my friends, we basically chill. I like playing X-Box, so fans can hit me up on XBox Live, my username is D_Barker7. I like going to Reds games and hanging out with my family and normal teenage stuff.

As you guys may have heard, Darius West pushed his announcement back because he’s got some new offers. I still feel really good about our chances at getting him. I talked to him and I understand where he’s coming from. He just got offered by Ole Miss and Miami (Fl) and he wants to go check out those places. I took a lot of visits too and I’d rather him go see those places and commit to UK rather than have him commit to UK and visit other places and decommit. I feel that once you commit, you should be 100% done.

There’s still some great stuff happening. Today we’re hoping to get some good news from a guy I’ve been after for a while. He’s visiting campus today and hopefully he’s going to commit. I was hoping Darius would also commit on Thursday so we could get two back-to-back and it would put us in the top ten recruiting classes in the nation, but I think Darius will still join us anyways.

Thanks for reading my first diary entry. I’m looking forward to writing more over the next year. Go Cats!