When the decision to start Patrick Towles at quarterback was announced, the next question out of everyone’s mouth has been in regards to the immediate future of freshman phenom Drew Barker. The four-star passer was everything the coaches expected him to be but that includes being a freshman with his head swimming. Not winning the starting job is not an indictment of his talent, it is to be expected. True freshman quarterbacks don’t fare well in general. In the SEC they are an endangered species. Matt Stafford maybe being the lone exception that comes to mind. Remember, Johnny Manziel had to take a redshirt. As did Aaron Murray. Both excelled as redshirt freshman, in part, because they had a multitude of weapons around them.
So it is that Barker should redshirt now that he has not won the starting job. There is no sense in wasting a year of eligibility while playing in mop-up duty as the backup quarterback, even if Barker outplayed Reese Phillips. (There are no indications that either separated themselves) Morgan Newton is the most recent example of a wasted year of eligibility after he spent his sophomore season sitting behind Mike Hartline but playing just enough to burn a year. If Barker redshirts this season, then he can compete again next year with a firm grasp of the playbook.
Or perhaps Towles takes the job and runs with it. That would be the best scenario to unfold for the program. In a scenario where Towles is the clear-cut starter Barker would still be in position to take the reigns as a redshirt junior and start for two years. It’s as much as anyone can ask in college football. By all accounts Barker is all-in with Kentucky, representing his state.
There has been some initial concern about Barker looking to transfer if he doesn’t win the job. A highly=touted prospect such as himself doesn’t really expect to sit for three years after all the hype that comes along with being a star. But if you look closely at the situation there is little motivation for Barker to leave Lexington. His other finalist was South Carolina, who have senior Dylan Thompson and redshirt frosh Connor Mitch on campus. A redshirt would have seemed likely there as well. At this point he is already enrolled at Kentucky, which means a redshirt year plus one burned during a transfer year would leave Barker with three seasons to play. Essentially he could buy one extra year. Unless he went to the FCS level but Barker is too talented to waste his time on that.
So, why transfer from the place that you want to be and are set up for success in the future to go somewhere else and take a shot in the dark? That doesn’t seem logical and again there has been no indication that Barker is even unhappy. Surely he is disappointed about losing the race but that’s part of college football. Losing in a fair competition isn’t something you can complain about. So let’s hope for everyone’s sake that Patrick Towles stays healthy and excels.