Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke with reporters with Athletic director Mitch Barnhart (left) and University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto (right) at the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football Recruiting: Mark Stoops Makes Drew Barker No. 1 Priority

Drew Barker once sent so many messages on Facebook to recruiters and analysts trying to get his name out there that his account was banned for spam. Now, as a highly touted four-star quarterback prospect, Barker is on the receiving end of the spam letters.

The No. 108 player in the country according to 247Sports has amassed over 20 offers, and being a Kentucky native, he’s become the No. 1 priority in the 2014 recruiting class for new Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops. As a matter of fact, the Kentucky staff famously sent 115 handwritten letters earlier this spring and then sent another 100 letters with different reasons to commit to UK last month.

Barker is set to make his college decision on Friday afternoon. He’ll choose between the Wildcats, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Tennessee Volunteers. Kentucky and South Carolina figure to be the favorites for his commitment with Tennessee bringing up the rear, but there’s no question that Kentucky has recruited Barker the hardest and Stoops and the rest of the staff really hope that pays dividends tomorrow.

And regardless of whether he takes the leap,Barker’s recruitment has certainly been audacious. It isn’t the only example we’ve seen of Mark Stoops’ recruiting prowess in his first few months at Kentucky, either.

Last season, on a shortened timetable, Stoops was able to ink the No. 29 recruiting class in the country. It was unquestionably one of the best recruiting classes in the modern era of recruiting for the Kentucky Wildcats, although it sadly ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC.

So far in 2014, Mark Stoops has used his ties in Ohio to pull in five commitments in the current recruiting class. All five are Ohio prospects and they provide a solid base to the class, but a commitment from Barker would be a significant feather in the cap for the youngest of the coaching Stoopses.

Barker is both highly-rated and an in-state prospect, and he plays the most important position in all of sports, and as Kentucky tries to amass talent to be competitive in the SEC, a commitment from a big-time quarterback is something you can build an entire recruiting class around. What it boils down to for Barker, is does he want to be the face of his home state program?

If the answer is yes, then I suppose we’ll see Barker in a certain obnoxious shade of blue tomorrow (sorry, Kentucky fans, I couldn’t help myself). If not, then its probably because the allure of playing for a legendary head coach like Steve Spurrier on a team that already figures to be major players in the SEC East for the next few years is too much.

Kentucky fans will certainly be watching this one closely tomorrow afternoon, and whether its justifiable or not, plenty of folks in Big Blue Nation will be pinning their hopes on this talented teenager. What Drew Barker represents to Kentucky football is hope.

On the field, what Barker brings to the table is a big arm and the sort of football acumen that we all crave in a quarterback. In this Courier-Journal feature, Barker’s head coach at Conner High School said the signal caller will have the freedom to make checks at the line on roughly 85 to 90 percent of the snaps this fall.

If Drew Barker decides to take the plunge with Kentucky, he’ll likely have an opportunity to showcase those skills immediately. Kentucky has a pair of sophomore quarterbacks on their roster and junior Maxwell Smith, but a kid as highly-touted as Barker figures to immediately be in the mix in 2014.

Who knows, tomorrow could be the start of something special in BBN. It could be the start of “Big Barker Nation.”

Tags: College Football Recruiting Drew Barker Kentucky Wildcats Mark Stoops SEC

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