By LARRY VAUGHT
Terry Barker knows he can’t control how University of Kentucky fans will remember his son, Drew Barker. He just hopes a couple of off-field incidents during his son’s freshman year will not distort what fans remember about him now that he decided to transfer after spending four years at UK.
“I hope a couple of off-field incidents will not define his legacy at Kentucky,” Terry Barker said. “People who know Drew know both of those incidents were not ones where Drew meant any harm.”
He finished his career with 57 completes in 113 attempts for 747 yards and five scores with seven interceptions. He redshirted in 2014, started the final two games of 2015 and started three games in 2016 before a back injury ended his season.
Barker and three teammates were suspended for one game and charged with disorderly conduct for having airsoft guns out on campus. Later in the year Barker was involved in a bar fight in Richmond and then sucker punched in the side of his head by an Eastern Kentucky football player in an Eastern dorm.
Terry Barker said his son and friends were “just messing around and playing on campus on a Sunday night” with the airsoft guns and never anticipated it would turn into a situation where campus would be shut down. The bar incident/fight was one Barker could have made a better choice but give him credit for owning his mistakes and maturing the next three years
Also don’t forget that he was the bellcow for UK’s 2014 recruiting class when not everyone believed in coach Mark Stoops and the Kentucky program. Barker said no to South Carolina early and never wavered in his commitment and loyalty to Stoops.
“There was no decommitment, no wavering. He was all in and tried to recruit guys to come to UK with him,” Terry Barker said. “He did his best to bring guys with him from day one and I hope fans will remember that about him. It did not work out on the field. Sometimes that happens. But he loved Kentucky.”
So why leave?
Simple, he wants to play next year. He might have been the leader to become UK’s starting quarterback next year but is looking for an offense that will fit his skills better. No, the arrival of junior college quarterback Terry Wilson did not lead to the transfer.
“We just want to find an offense that will throw the ball more and do so well that we hope Kentucky fans will say, ‘I wish we had him back,’” Terry Barker said. “He wants his collegiate career to end on a high note. He wants to play well enough to get an invitation to the NFL combine and show his arm off. The NFL is a passing league and that’s what he does best.
“But I just hope fans will always remember he was fully committed to us when we were down and low. He tried to drag kids with him to Kentucky. Drew had one foot in the door at South Carolina when Kentucky brought Mark Stoops and (offensive coordinator) Neal Brown in and that gave him renewed energy about UK. That kid was born with blue blood out of the crib.”
Stoops understood Barker’s decision. Stoops has to recruit the best players he can each year. Players have to do what it takes to give them the best chance to play. It’s just business, nothing personal.
“Mark told Drew that he still believes he has the ability to play beyond college. He said he just wished it had worked out for Drew at Kentucky and he would do anything for him and we appreciate that,” Terry Barker said.