Future UK Quarterback Drew Barker will be writing a diary for KSR throughout his senior season to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in recruiting and the changes in the UK football program. Check out his earlier entries:
The Drew Barker Diary: Laying a Foundation
The Drew Barker Diary: Keeping the Momentum Going
Hey Big Blue Nation! I’ve had a busy few weeks, but it’s great to be back in the Bluegrass. I spent last week at the Nike Headquarters in Oregon for the Elite 11 Finals and The Opening, which was a great experience. Here’s how it all went down.
I arrived out in Oregon at the Nike headquarters last Thursday morning, and they gave us a ton of sweet Nike gear and cleats, limited edition stuff, which was really cool. We had our first workout that evening, which was pretty neat because they had “college counselors” to help us out, so the top quarterbacks in the country that could make it, including Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd from Clemson, Teddy Bridgewater, and David Fales from San Jose State. It was cool to spend time with them because that’s where we all want to be in the next three or four years.
Seeing Teddy Bridgewater was pretty cool. I had met him before on visits to Louisville, but I haven’t seen him since I committed to Kentucky. He was kind of teasing me about going to Kentucky, but was very courteous about the new staff. He said he’s seen all of the recruiting efforts and is glad UK is on the rise because it would be good for the rivalry and the state to not only have two really good basketball teams, but two good football teams as well. He’s a really nice guy, and pretty cool about it all.
On the second day, right before we went to bed, Coach Dilfer told us to make sure to set our alarms for 4:30 a.m., which was way before our scheduled wake up time of 7 a.m. He didn’t tell us why, so we were all wondering what the heck was going to happen. We went to bed pretty late because we had a bunch of meetings and film to watch, so all of a sudden at 4 a.m., there was a knock on our door. My roommate answered the door and the guy told us to meet down in the lobby in ten minutes. It wasn’t even 4:30 a.m. yet! I guess they were trying to catch us off guard. So, we got dressed really quick, went to the lobby, and all the quarterbacks got into these cars without any idea where we were going. All of a sudden, we started going up a really steep hill, and we saw a sign that says “Cooper Mountain.” We pulled off to the side at this restort-type area and Coach Dilfer told us we were going to be running up the mountain. I remembered from last year’s Elite 11 that the players had to go do a marine workout on the beach, so this year, we got to do a 4-mile mountain run. We ran down first, then had to run back up. It was really, really hard. Definitely one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, and a cool experience.
We also worked with a charity called NEGU (Never Ever Give Up), who works with kids who are terminally ill with cancer or other diseases. The charity goes to hospitals and gives each kid a “joy jar” that’s full of toys and other stuff to raise their spirits and inspire them to never give up. They brought some of the kids out to the camp and two quarterbacks were paired with each child. The child I worked with was Adeline Lambert. She’s six years old and has already had leukemia for a year. She’s been undergoing treatments for that and we got to meet her and talk to her mom and her little sisters, which was pretty cool. Spending time with them teaches you to never take anything for granted and makes you realize how blessed we really are, because there are people out in the world who aren’t as fortunate as us. It was really cool to share that experience with them. That’s something I noticed about the Elite 11 camp. They taught us a lot about football, but also taught us there is a lot more to life than football, like giving back.
Football wise, I kind of started off a little slow in the camp, because it was mostly drills and throwing routes and not game scenarios. When The Opening started and the skill players started reporting for the 7-on-7 drills, I really started to turn it up in real game situations. A lot of the quarterbacks weren’t really good in the 7-on-7 format, because even though a lot of those guys are super good, they’re going against the top defensive backs in the country, so even if they’re off by a second, it’s going to be a batted ball or interception. During the 7-on-7 part, I did really well and that’s what put me into the final Elite 11. Of course, the one game they put on TV was my worst game of the whole tournament! I had prided myself on having 14 or 15 touchdowns and only one interception that day, and then I had two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game on TV. But, it was still really fun and I’m grateful for the experience. It was awesome.
It was good to see Braxton Berrios at The Opening. I think we have a really good chance with him. He hasn’t visited yet, but he’s going to come down the weekend of July 19th for the Friday Night Lights camp, which all of the 2014 commits and top targets are coming to as well, like Matt Elam and Stanton Truitt. A lot of people wrote Braxton off to Miami when they offered him, but to be honest, I don’t think he’s a lock to Miami at all. He told me that he doesn’t know why everyone thinks that. He did say it was his dream school, but also that they’re going through a lot with the NCAA right now, so I still think we’ve got a really good shot. If you saw him compete at the SPARQ combine on ESPN, you saw what a pure athlete he is. He ran a 4.48 40 and had the fastest shuttle time at the camp with a 3.81. He’s a really good football player too. I watched him play and he was just carving up defenses in the slot, which would be perfect for the Air Raid offense.
How about my man TV Williams! TV is a really big get for us. He’s not really that highly rated because of his size, but he’s lightning fast and if you watch his highlight film, you can tell he’s a playmaker in the open field. In the Air Raid offense, you need those type of guys who can dump down screens and take a one-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. It’ll be great to have TV as one of my targets. If you just throw a little bubble screen to him, he can take it to the house from any distance on the field. He’s definitely a home-run type player who can give you that big play when you really need it. It’s also big that TV’s from Texas, because it shows how UK is recruiting nationally now.
Like I told you earlier, all of the 2014 commitments and the top targets are coming down for the Friday Night Lights camp the weekend of July 19th. The guys we’ve got coming in are Matt Elam; Braxton Berrios; Stanton Truitt, an athlete from Georgia; Moral Stephens, a 4-star WR from Florida who the staff might turn into a tight end; Garrett Johnson, a slot receiver out of Florida; and a couple of lineman that we’re really going after. From the 2015 class, we’re having Damien Harris out of Madison Southern, he’s a really good player and Alex Ofodile, a top ten wide receiver. It’ll be really good to have those guys on campus and it’s definitely going to be another big weekend like we had a month ago.
I’m still hitting up guys on Twitter encouraging them to join us at UK. My list has kind of been narrowed down a little bit because of all the guys committing, but that’s made it a little easier to focus on the 10-15 guys we really want to keep in touch with. I’d say our top five targets right now are Matt Elam, Braxton Berrios, Brady Taylor, Nick Richardson, and Ray Raulerson. So, three offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, and a wide receiver. The O-Line is really important and we only have a couple of O-Line commits so far, but we’re right in there for some top of the line guys. It’s really important for us to get that foundation started.
My senior season actually starts tomorrow, when the dead period ends. We’re starting our 7-on-7s on Thursday, when we start playing local schools. Our season starts with a bye week, so our first game will be August 31 against Boone County at home. We actually thought of driving down to Nashville to see the UK/Western Kentucky game, but since our first game is on the same day because it’s part of a showcase, we’re going to have to watch it on TV instead. Thankfully, our game kicks off at 1 p.m, so I’ll be able to see all of it. I’m going to try to come to every home game, and I can’t wait to feel the excitement in Commonwealth Stadium.
I’m also going to try my hardest to make it to the KSR tour stop in Maysville on July 24th, so if you’re in the area, come on out and say hi!