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.
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.
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.
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!