BY LARRY VAUGHT
During his first season at Kentucky, Drew Barker had a few off-field moments he would rather forget — and he did put them behind him with his work on and off the field.
Now the junior quarterback is coming off back surgery and competing for playing time with Stephen Johnson as UK gets set to open the season. However, his maturity as a person is even more obvious than his improved play on the field coaches and teammates have been talking about.
“I try to hang out with younger guys and show them we do this, we don’t do that. Stay after practice with them and just show them the ropes a little bit. Maybe take them under my wings. I have really developed some good relationships,” Barker said.
“Once you see the opportunity you are being given and see regular students talk about how much student loans are, you really got to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. I have been trying to tell that to these young guys. Sometimes you just come in and get caught up with all football and SEC and all that stuff. But you need to take advantage of academics, too.”
Barker’s parent, Ellie and Terry, certainly have noticed the transformation since he arrived at UK at age 17 after graduating early from Conner High School in December to enroll early in college.
“The change that has taken place in him watching him grow as a person and become a man in front of our eyes has been something. It has been neat,” Barker’s father, Terry, said. “He seems more relaxed, more confident right now. He had a heck of a struggle with his back.”
Terry Barker said the back issues started last summer before preseason practice. Some days were worse than others. His father said the mental stress at times wore on Barker as much as the physical pain.
Now he’s fine. His father knew that when they were playing golf this summer and his son “crushed the ball 300 yards” off the tee.
“All the torque you have to use is about the same as football,” Terry Barker said. “People kept asking him how he felt and he said he didn’t have one twinge of pain. Kudos to his doctor that did a wonderful job relocating the nerve that was causing down his left left. I am just so happy for him. He’s winning in life now and that’s what really counts.”