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The Drew Barker Dilemma

Mark Zerof | USA Today


Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

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.


Article written by Jay Winkler

Avid fan of UK Athletics, WWE, and chicken wings. Preferably at the same time.

32 Comments for The Drew Barker Dilemma

  1. winagain1
    3:08 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I think when next season kicks off.. the starting QB won’t be Johnson or Barker. But that’s just an opinion. If I’m wrong, I say Johnson would start over Barker.

  2. A_Blue_Wildcat
    3:09 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t see how after that game anyone other than Stephen Johnson starts for us next year.

    • UK Big Bored Update
      5:59 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      I agree. The kid deserves it. Busted hump for pert near the entire year – he earned it.

  3. Look Out Fireworks
    3:10 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    In my opinion, if you want to keep the momentum and the fanbase on board, the coaches must go into the offseason and looking towards 2017 with Stephen Johnson. Stoops has not had a guaranteed QB in the offseason while he’s been here, and that plays towards fans’ uncertainty and questioning the coaches. If at the Spring Game DB is miles ahead of SJ, the. You start talking about a move.

    Let DB back up SJ in 2017 and he will be a much better QB in 2018.

  4. onlyone
    3:20 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    There is now way with the experience and poise that Johnson has that he can be displaced by Barker who has 2 career starts and no wins and happy feet in the pocket. Barker also does not have that escape ability that Johnson has. The guy with the most wins at QB since Woodson and a bowl game coming up how can this even be a discussion?

    • WildcatCam
      3:33 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      (that last line) Exactly!!!

    • UK Big Bored Update
      6:06 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      It is a blessing; I am delighted that this conversation ensued. It is exciting to have a KENTUCKY Quarterback so poised and confident. He is a proven leader. He brought the lightning, the fun, and returned a forgotten happiness to KENTUCKY Football…..& proved that he is the man. It has been a journey for the fella. Kudos to E. Gran; Thank goodness they both chose the CATS!

  5. Cmart0907
    3:20 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    It gotta be Stephen Johnson. He has got better as the season progressed. And the expierence he has behind the center. Stephen Johnson should be a no brainer.

    • Rixter
      6:01 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      That’s a great point. has any UK quarterback since Woodson or Hartline actually improved the more he played? Morgan Newton didnt. Max Smith didn’t, Jalen Whitlow didn’t Towles didn’t, Barker (in limited time) didnt. SJ started off shaky, but seems to have really turned a corner the last few games. First it was the deep ball. now the underneath passing is more accurate, and his decision-making is the best I’ve seen around here in a LONG time.

  6. BlueDew
    3:24 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Here we go. I just commented on another post addressing this topic. Reports from last year was the team became really divided. Look how that turned out. Look at how we started this year. Maybe Drew was hurt, hate to see anyone hurt and not able to play. However, something was just not right with our team. The body language, making plays, confidence. The chemistry was not there.we all want out best and most talented players on the field. But, we also have to put players on the field that can win games and make plays. It appears Johnson, maybe not as tralented, has that special “it factor” to win games. We don’t need to stir this crap up trying to create a decisive issue for our football team. Shut up we have a QB for next year unless he just falls on our face or becomes injured.

  7. THOTsViews
    3:26 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    We stuck with Pat Towels for 3 years of mediocre play and now we’re talking about going away from Steven Johnson after 7 wins and a win at #11 Louisville?


    • UK Big Bored Update
      6:08 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      I was in ATHENS last fall. Miserable display. Absolutely abhorrent. Embarrasing.

  8. KYcats11
    3:30 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Look how much Johnson progressed in the 10 weeks of being a starter. Imagine how much he’s gonna progrest throughout the whole year and in to summer when he adds some weight and strength (and more accuracy/ ability to throw over the line and stop hitting the d lines hands) he will be an absolute stud next year. With that said I hope Drew Barker gets his chance after Johnson graduates (hopefully he’ll get a redshirt this year) plays like a stud for 2 years, then Danny clark comes >n and balls out for 2 years.

  9. WildcatCam
    3:35 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Jay, idk how you all decide who writes what, if you’re at liberty to write whatever….but this has got to be a joke of a post. Maybe this is something you talk about after the Florida game when he completed like 4 passes. But there is no discussion needed after yesterday’s display. Helluva performance by Mr. Johnson!

  10. jimlowe7
    3:37 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Every SEC team needs AT LEAST TWO QBs with game experience and in whom the team and coaches have confidence that each can win games with their unique strengths and weaknesses. There must be EQUALLY OR GREATER TALENTED QBs on the bench with little or no game experience.

    • BlueDew
      4:36 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      People are not discussing the talent at QB position—this post on KSR is perceived to insinuate that Barker, for the reasons by this poster, deserves a shot at QB next season if healthy. The person that penned tthis post seems unaware that the SEC is not a fair conference. Very few have opportunities to play or even start. Barker had a shot to lead this team. I wish he wasn’t injured. But, he was and Johnson stepped in and went 7-2. Enough said.

    • Rixter
      6:17 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Good point, bluedrew, why not a similar post about Matt Elam, who now finds himself at 2nd string due to lack of production? A coach can’t play favorites, it’s all about wins and losses.

  11. cdhunt
    4:15 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    An article at this point in the season with everything that has went on in the last 24 hours seems unwarranted. Maybe it should be deleted.

    • WildcatCam
      5:39 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink


    • WildcatCam
      5:40 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Especially after the ending of Freddie’s post..

  12. 4everblue
    4:30 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    If it’s not Johnson next season there is a real problem in the Stoops camp! Can’t believe we are even having this discussion…

  13. Not Dan Issel
    4:35 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Stephen Johnson without question. Barker might be the backup but I’m not sure he even has the actual talent to do that. SJ has earned the right to lead this team. I can’t imagine Stoops going any other way.

  14. BGLawdog
    4:47 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    There is no “dilemma” whatsoever. Barker might be 2nd string next year; he might be 3rd. But anyone with a brain knows what he won’t be: the starter. After an epic win, I’d think that there would be a plethora of material to write about. Making up a problem (or as you call it, a “dilemma”) when it does not exist seems silly. “Dilemma”, by definition, implies a choice between two undesirable options. I find this to be a kick in Johnson’s nuts after what he’s done this year.

  15. Booby Petrino
    4:57 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    No dilemma. Johnson is our guy, Barker is backup.

  16. Lexingtonyn
    5:41 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    When will we know if Barker gets a redshirt? He only played 1 complete game before the injury. He got yanked in the Florida game, and played 3 plays in the NM St. game. Surely to God he will get a medical redshirt. Why does Jay say more than likely Drew only has 2 years left? Am I wrong in assuming the medical redshirt is the probable outcome?

    • Brianwr112
      7:53 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

      Can’t apply for a medical redshirt until his normal eligibility is up. One of the dumbest rules the NCAA has in my opinion. Kids make real life decisions based on what the NCAA takes months to rule on

  17. BLUEsky
    5:53 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    I love KSR but I wish this article had not been written and posted for all to see. No need at all for this type of public discussion at this point.

    Chill out BBN. Enjoy the win and enjoy the season. Give some credit to these guys for the success they’ve had this year. Let next season take care of itself.

    FIRST and foremost, Drew need to take care of Drew. He has a very serious health issue for which there are no guarantees that he will even be able to play football again without serious risk to himself. I truly wish this young man a full and speedy recovery upon his medical procedure.

    I’ve no doubt that Drew and the coaches will take this one step at a time. Any speculation on the future at this point is simply that–speculation.

    I am watching the replay of the game–again–today. Just an awesome time for Kentucky football.

    Congrats to the coaches and players on a hard-fought and well-deserved victory yesterday. Pull up my previous posts and you will find my defense of the coaches and the team throughout the year. I just felt like they were going to break through at some point. I live almost 4 hours from Lexington, and I’ve been to more games this year than I ever have (total of 4) , if that tells you anything about how I feel about the state of the program.

    Coach Stoops has represented UK with the utmost class and respect throughout his time here. He has withstood the criticism of a few, and has stayed the course. My hat’s off to him for how he has handled himself through all of it I am so happy for these guys. It’s somehow more special when one overcomes all odds and comes out on top.

    On to the bowl BBN!!!!

  18. jaws2
    7:13 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Dear 502CodeRed,

    Weren’t you the one calling us ‘Slapdicks’ prior to this game? Looks like we slapped it in your face ALL DAY Saturday!!
    I’m sure you’ll spend the next 364 days pulling yours in your mommy’s basement!!

    Oh, Happy Holidays!!!!

  19. Rain1940
    9:00 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Has everyone forgotten about Gunnar Hoak? He is suppose to be a rising star at QB. My best wishes to Barker but I doubt he has a future at UK with the younger, talented QB’s on the roster and coming in.

  20. herm89
    10:41 pm November 27, 2016 Permalink

    Drew Barker looks like such a doofus in this picture.

  21. smokindave
    10:16 am November 28, 2016 Permalink

    Couple of points-I honestly think Barker got hurt in the Southern Miss game, and tried to play through it for a couple of weeks. He was too good in the first half of that game to suddenly become terrible without any other explanation. Next-it’s obviously a much more serious injury than first thought, and may keep him from ever coming back. After all-any athlete who has had a lower back injury will agree-it never, ever comes back 100%-and for a QB, that is brutal. I wish him well, but Johnson should-without any doubt-be your returning starter for his senior year, and hopefully Drew can rehab enough to get back out there at some point. By the way-a little serendipity-I watched the BC game the other night, and thought that if Patrick hadn’t transferred-he would have been the 2nd guy on the depth chart-not Stephen. Who said KY football never gets a break?