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.
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.
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!