So, most of the Big Blue Nation seems to be in agreement that Stephen Johnson made a pretty compelling case against the Cards to be UK’s starting QB in his final year of eligibility. He outdueled the leading Heisman candidate. He helped cap off a season that, for a time, looked pretty dire with the biggest win of Mark Stoops’ tenure at Kentucky. And now, he’ll have a chance to bring a bowl game victory back to the Bluegrass. All of these things are great and wonderful…
But where do they leave Drew Barker?
In the wake of an injury that even Coach Stoops has seemed uncertain about, Barker has had to give up the mantle as UK’s go-to guy over to Johnson. He just had surgery on his back, which makes it impossible to predict how well he’ll rebound from his injury. And with the potential for another red-shirt year still murky, the situation becomes even more complicated.
This is a kid who was legitimately sought after by high-profile schools. An Elite 11 caliber QB. Somebody that grew up and made his name in Kentucky, and instead of venturing elsewhere, opted to stay home and help rebuild a program that desperately needed it. He was one of the champions of recruiting among the players, trying his best to pull in other top guys to help him in his quest of revitalizing his home state program. There were some moments of immaturity that I’m sure most of the BBN can recall, but I don’t think anyone ever doubted Drew’s commitment to the program. Hopefully, you still don’t.
But he’s got, at best, 3 years left in the program. At this point, it seems more likely that he’ll only have 2. And I’m sure that a player that was as highly touted as Barker still has aspirations of playing on Sundays. He’s definitely got the physical traits. The arm, the size. He just hasn’t really had the time to develop into a poised, confident quarterback yet.
Hopefully, he will be given enough opportunities in Lexington to really showcase himself to a national audience. The program is gaining momentum. Most of the fans who jumped ship post-Southern Miss are surely back on board by now. The team is young, with plenty of future studs. There seems to finally be some cohesion between the players and the coaches. And Drew will be given all the time he needs to make it back to 100 percent. The program he comes back to will be in much better shape than the one he came into.
The atmosphere around the Bluegrass is ripe for a great comeback story.
For now, let’s keep enjoying our Cats’ rise back to prominence. If all goes well, when Drew is ready to make his return, we’ll all be more than ready to cheer him on.