Kentucky Wildcat Football: The Barker Effect

In case you live under a rock or in some kind of vacuum, you will be happy to learn that 4* QB Drew Barker picked Kentucky over South Carolina yesterday. I was one of about 200 onlookers that packed the tiny Conner High School auditorium and it was a great experience. (Mostly because Barker chose the Cats) A lot of people will say that nobody knew what Drew would do until he announced and that’s technically true of all announcements, but most of the writers that follow the Kentucky beat knew what the decision would be. There were three hats on the table, each with the bill bent carefully to suggest use, and when Barker pulled a hat from under the table with “CATS” emblazoned upon it, the crowd erupted. (Including one blogger who forgot he was there on business…)

So besides quickly trending on Twitter, what does it all mean? Barker becomes the third 4* commit in the 2014 class for Mark Stoops and could earn a coveted fifth star at the upcoming Rivals camp. He is the top-rated prospect in the class so far. It keeps Kentucky’s momentum moving forward and adds a significant boost. And it potentially sends recruiting into the stratosphere.

Following his announcement yesterday Barker named Blake Bone, Braxton Berrios, Derek Kief, Matt Elam and Nick Glass, all 4* prospects, as guys that he would immediately begin recruiting because he knew them. Those are just the ones he named off of what he said is a long list. If the young man has his own list and the coaches give him the same message other commits have gotten about recruiting that next guy to commit, it could pay big dividends. Every year we see a quarterback who commits early and helps an unexpected team draw in a big class and there is every reason to believe that can/will happen here.

Beyond the five Drew named, local talents that must be impressed at this point would include Mike Edwards, Darius West, Jarett Larubbio, Nacarius Fant, and Daniel Cage. It also puts Kentucky in the heads of 2015 talents George Brown, Damien Harris and Eli Brown. Barker will be invited to all kinds of national events and showcases, like the upcoming 5-Star Challenge and the US Army All-American Bowl. Maybe the Elite 11. Recruits talk, and recruit each other, at these events. You best believe that Barker didn’t turn down South Carolina’s talented roster to play without tools around him. He will be in some guys’ ears whenever he can about the advantages of joining Big Blue Nation. With the coaches’ approval, of course. Kentucky plans on signing around 20 players this year so they will be very selective when it comes to whose commitment they accept.

Drew isn’t likely to play until 2015 or 2016, but his commitment could pay immediate dividends as soon as 2014. The impact of him choosing Kentucky cannot be overstated. That’s why you hear all of that chatter from opposing fan bases. Nobody thinks Kentucky will become world-beaters overnight, but they are putting some fear into people. All this “sleeping giant” talk has to have a few worried.

Tags: Football Kentucky Wildcats

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