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:
Hey guys! Since the Elite 11, everything kind of slowed down and now I’m back working with my team. We’re doing our 7-on-7 passing league now with other schools in the area and that’s going really well. I’m pretty excited about some of our upcoming receivers we have that not many people know about, and I think we’re going to be really good this year.
From a UK standpoint, we just had a really big recruiting weekend this past weekend, and I know all the fans are really freaking out because we only got one commitment, but just be patient. It just shows how much times have changed because people are actually freaking out over how we only got one Yahtzee in a weekend. It’s pretty funny how that goes!
Just talking with the coaches and being there with all the guys at the Friday Night Blue Lights camp was great. The commitments who came to the camp were myself, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Dorian Hendrix, Darius West, Denzel Ware, Derrick Kelly, TV Williams, and Stanley Williams. We also had some big targets in town like Matt Elam, Braxton Berrios, Brady Taylor, Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson, Moral Stephens, and Cory Johnson, who obviously committed while we were there. It was great to be with the guys again and I think the recruits liked it. We had a really good time there, showing them everything. I thought the camp was really cool too. It was a good atmosphere, under the lights and Dorian and I actually participated. It was great to get out there and work with the coaches some more with some of the potential receivers we might have.
I went to a camp at UK before Coach Stoops came in and one after, so this was my third. I think the biggest difference from the previous staff’s camp is that UK’s camp now feels like a big-time college camp. I went to Ohio State, Alabama, and other big schools’ camps, and now UK’s are starting to get that feel. The prospects coming in aren’t really paying attention to the “old Kentucky” as some people would say. This staff is really focused on the future of the program and the recruiting class we have right now is a great starting point. Everything now just feels right and you can feel something special happening.
Even being out on the field at Commonwealth Stadium just felt right. It felt like a place I needed to be. I would just look up and around and think about how I can’t wait to play here. It felt completely natural, like the perfect fit. It made me really glad I chose Kentucky and just imagining the place packed in a few years makes me really look forward to it.
I really like the family feel in UK football right now. I was telling some of the recruits that at some schools, they claim to have a big family atmosphere, but at UK, every coach is involved with you, from Coach Brown, Coach Schlarman, Coach Mainord on offense to Coach Ansley, Coach Eliot, Coach Brumbaugh and all the coaches on defense. Everyone is involved with you and they know every recruit. I think that’s pretty special because you don’t find that in many places. Usually, it’s just the position coach or offensive or defensive coordinator recruiting you at whatever position you play.
It was great to get out there and throw to some of our top targets. Three that stood out to me at the camp were Dorian Baker, Moral Stephens and Garrett Johnson. Dorian Baker is a wide receiver out of Ohio who I hadn’t really heard much about, but he came to camp and lit it up. He ran a 4.46 40-yard-dash and either a high 3.9 or 4 flat shuttle, which at his size (6’3″, 210 lbs.) is ridiculous. He’s already built like a SEC wideout. To go along with the speed, agility, and quickness, he also had great hands. He’s the guy for me that I thought had the most eye-opening performance, and the coaches definitely took notice. He told me that he’s going to come back with his mom on an official visit because she wants to see everything. Another guy who stood out was Moral Stephens, a wideout from Florida. He’s really big, like 6’5″, so that’s definitely a big target we’re looking to add on the outside as a deep threat. He had great hands too, and moved really well for a big guy. Definitely one of those targets you want to have in the red zone or to go deep. He did really well at the camp. Garrett Johnson, a slot receiver out of Florida, did very well too. He was very fast in getting in and out of his cuts. He actually really surprised me too, for how quick he was and how good his hands were.
It was also great to hang out with Matt Elam again. Matt’s one of my good friends and a great kid. To be honest, I have a really good feeling that he’ll come to Kentucky, but it’s going to be a long time until he announces at the Army All-American Game in San Antonio. I’m going to be at that game too, so I’ll be right there next to him when he makes his decision on national TV. Once again, he had a great trip to Kentucky. I think we’re all going to try to schedule our official visits together at the same time, and he lives in Kentucky too, so I’m sure I’ll see him at a couple of other games too on unofficial visits. Like I said, I feel really good about him and if he did commit to Kentucky, I think that would bring a lot more exposure to Coach Stoops and the program with him putting on UK’s hat over ones from Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State on national TV.
Braxton Berrios also came to the camp. This was Braxton’s first time visiting Kentucky. He got there during the middle of the camp on Friday night and stayed until Monday afternoon, so that was a good long visit for him. That’s good because he got to see everything and hang out, do cool things around campus, meet the coaches, etc. Basically, we just told him how he could be used in this offense. Why wouldn’t you want to come play in this offense in his role? You can come in and get early playing time. The way he is, he’s so versatile you could give him 10-15 touches a game. It would be a big offense for Braxton, and I know the coaches are really high on him. I think it was a great overall visit, and he said he’s planning to take an official visit soon, and decide sometime around September or October.
I’m sure you guys saw the pictures of the new uniforms Matt Elam tweeted out over the weekend. We were all just chilling in Coach Stoops’ office–Matt, Braxton, a couple of coaches and myself. We had seen some of the new uniforms before but did a really good job of keeping them quiet. There’s also a couple of other things that haven’t been revealed yet, but I won’t say much about that because I know they don’t want me to. Definitely some really, really cool things. Some people say if you look good, you play good, so guys like that stuff. Just to see all of the different uniform combinations was really cool, and all of the guys liked it.
Overall, I think everyone had a really good time and I think we’re going to get some big news here shortly on a couple of guys. Brady Taylor, a huge offensive lineman out of Ohio, decides on Monday. On the field, he’s really mean and tough, which is a guy you want blocking for you in the SEC. He’s a real blue collar kid, a hard worker. You’re not going to hear any bad things about him in the media because he keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. A couple of the other commitments and I sat down with him with the coaches for about an hour and gave him the reasons why we chose Kentucky and why he should come. I hope we can get him because he’s a really big time player, and he’ll be a huge get for us and the offensive line. In the SEC, the games are won in the trenches with the offensive and defensive lines, so you definitely have to have really good players in those spots.
Nick Richardson should be announcing his decision sometime next week, too. He’s also another offensive lineman out of Ohio. He’s a top 200, four-star guy, very highly recruited, so that would also be another huge get to bring him and Brady in both of the same week. It could potentially put us back to the number one recruiting class. Nick’s also a really big dude, a strong, get-in-your-face type of guy. He’s also really athletic for how big he is, so we need those kind of guys who can run with the [Jadeveon] Clowneys in the SEC.
For me, we start our team camp on August 1, so we’ll be practicing at 7 a.m. every morning during two-a-days, which leads all the way up to our first scrimmage on the 16th at Beechwood High School. They’re 1A, but they’re always a contender for the State Championship every single year, so it will be a good challenge.
I’ll check in with you guys in a few weeks! Go Cats.