Aug 5, 2011; Lexington, KY USA; Kentucky Wildcats helmet and football sit on the field during media day at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football Recruiting: Drew Barker Decision Looms


Believe it or not, Drew Barker will announce his college choice this Friday. One of the names that has been talked about non-stop since Mark Stoops was hired is finally going to make public his choice and then everyone can go home. So to celebrate, others to move on to the next guy. But for two more days, Barker-themed pandemonium will still exist. South Carolina fans think he’s theirs. Kentucky fans are split. And Tennessee fans are desperately working some last minute Twitter recruiting and praying that they are in the race.

The message boards are a mess right now, lousy with Barker threads, half of which were started by USCjr. fans and all of which they have taken the time to comment on. See the Gamecock fans think Barker will commit to them and they can’t fathom how or why he might choose Kentucky over the mighty University of South Carolina. They apparently feel so secure that they need to troll UK boards all week.

Well I have a pretty good idea of where Barker is going to commit this week and I just want to look at his choice. So why would Drew Barker, or anyone for that matter, choose the Wildcats over USCe? It’s just a “no-brainer”, right?

I see the appeal of Carolina, they have a legendary coach, they have been recruiting Drew longer and they will undoubtedly win more games than Kentucky will this season. And probably next season. Their stadium holds about 10k more fans than Commonwealth does and they have little trouble filling it. Football is second to nothing in Columbia. He will be part of a Top 25 recruiting class. And let’s be honest, if you are a decent quarterback, you can get in soooo much trouble and still start.

Now let’s look at the flip side of all of that. Their legendary coach is pretty old, assuming a redshirt year for Barker he will be 70 years old by the time Drew might get to play. How many years does he have left in the tank? He is a touted quarterback and passing game guru, yet has never mentored a successful NFL quarterback. His offense at South Carolina has shifted to a power-running style in recent years. He is also prone to bench his QBs at any given moment.  Spurrier is also pretty loyal to his upper-classmen like most old-school coaches. So with Dylan Thompson and then Connor Mitch ahead of him, Barker may not see the field until his redshirt junior season.

As far as the stadium size and football support, there is no argument. Commonwealth will be renovated right around the time Drew would suit up for the Cats but they are actually planning to reduce the seating a little. As far as fans…Kentucky basketball will always be important. It would likely take a national championship in football to unseat it. But Kentucky fans love Kentucky football, and they are dying to have a reason to cheer. When it comes to recruiting, Barker would be the reason Kentucky got a Top 25 class. His commitment would likely start a domino effect amongst the area prospects who are all high on UK as is. So he can stay home and be a hero, and do it with all of his friends. (Speaking of friends, his best friend Cameron Fogle will be a walk-on at Kentucky) And finally when it comes to wins, Carolina certainly has the advantage for the immediate future, but three years from now (when Barker would likely be coming off a redshirt at either school) things could be very different. I believe that they will, but three years is a long time and anything could happen. Like Coach Marrow mentioned in a recent interview, schools are recruiting against Kentucky using the lack of wins in the last few years.  But that has nothing to do with these new coaches, they only know winning from their various stops and they don’t plan on changing that.

There are good reasons to go to both schools and there are downsides to both decisions. I can see why Gamecock fans are confident and the national recruiting guys are picking them, how many times have they seen a top recruit pick UK over a good team like SC? But the idea that it makes no sense to pick the Wildcats is galling. Perhaps the garnet and black crowd have forgotten where they were not so long ago. Perhaps they have forgotten a guy like Alshon Jeffrey who was a huge recruit who spurned the prestigious USC for the other one and helped build their program. Play with Matt Barkley or Stephen Garcia? That choice seemed to have a logical conclusion attached too. Since Barker invited everyone in Kentucky to come see his decision, I’ll be there Friday to find out just how illogical he is.

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