Everyone, meet the newest member of Mark Stoops’s army: Drew Barker. I’ll be honest, I fell asleep on the Barker story, so I had no idea how big of a deal his signing was for Kentucky. That was of course, until I watched the film on this kid. Barker has it all, plain and simple. He is a true double threat at the quarterback position, with the ability to stretch a defense with both his arm and his legs. After watching the highlight tapes, here are my notes on Barker:
-The first thing you have to notice is Barker’s surprising athleticism and strength. At multiple times on the tape you can see him literally tossing off would be tacklers and it seems as though Barker isn’t afraid of contact. When he decides to tuck and run, Barker runs behind his pads and gets North and South as quickly as possible.
-While he doesn’t have that “break-away” speed (I’ll put him at a high 4.6 or low 4.7, in pads) he makes up for that with his vision. When he does decide to run the ball, he makes one cut and gets vertical. His running is efficient, with little wasted movement.
-Barker is elusive, and rarely takes a hit head on. He just has a feel for where the defenders are at all times.
-Barker’s ability to carry out a play fake in the Read Option game will do wonders for Coach Brown and company.
-Barker’s running game will require opposing defenses to leave a LB or a Nickel Back (gross…) in the box to account for the scramble. This will open holes in the defense and allow for big plays down the field.
-Barker shows the ability to read a defense pre-snap and will find the holes in coverage. Once he finds the weak point in the defense, he throws his receiver open and hits the correct shoulder.
-The very first play shown on the highlight reel demonstrates Barker’s arm strength. Barker released the ball around his own 15 yard line and hit a nearly 50 yard post route over the middle, in stride. Even more impressive, he did so from his back foot.
-Has the ability to sense pressure and evade defenders while keeping his eyes down field. Can extend a play and create something out of nothing.
-Accurate passer with a quick release. He reads the defense, finds match-ups, and delivers an accurate ball to a play-maker on the outside. Looking at his game, his release mechanics and speed remind me of Justin Burke when he played for Lexington Catholic. Anyone who watched or played against Burke will agree that it was “one one-thousand, two one-thousand… Ball’s gone.” Barker has this same kind of decision making process.
-The only knock I can find on him is that his footwork can get sloppy at times. When he’s not being pressured, his feet can sometimes get dead in the pocket and this will make a passer less accurate. Also, he gets limited depth on his three and five step drops. He might be listed at 6’3”, but I think that’s giving him a few inches, so in order to be able to view the whole field he will have to get deeper on his drops.
-Barker has mentioned that one of the selling points that locked him in to Kentucky was that Neal Brown plans on throwing the ball around 40 or 50 times a game. The offense that Barker ran in high school (which I’m pretty sure might be a version of the Tony Franklin system) is very similar to Brown’s Air Raid 2.0. This experience should help ease the transition into Division 1 ball.
Barker is the real deal, and is a huge signing for Kentucky. There were 6 other SEC schools that either expressed interest or offered Barker, and Stoops won out. Yes, he’s an in-state prospect, but landing a recruit of this caliber (6th rated QB according to Rivals) is something that can’t be over emphasized. And just for fun, look at the 2:27 mark of the highlight tape and look at the score board. Barker’s Conner High School came to Frankfort to take on future teammate Ryan Timmons and Franklin County. Apparently the defenses just didn’t show up.
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