It's safe to say Kentucky has completely changed its recruiting profile in the eyes of the player who may emerge as the No. 1 prospect in the Bluegrass State for 2014.
"I had actually crossed UK off my list before the coaching change," said four-star Conner High School quarterback Drew Barker. "I grew up a fan, especially of UK basketball, but I didn't have any interest in them. Things are completely different now."
That's good news for the Wildcats, who already have some stiff competition for the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Barker. He's up to 12 scholarship offers now, an impressive list that includes major programs like Louisville, South Carolina, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Illinois, Purdue, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.
The two unofficial visits Barker has made to UK since Mark Stoops was named head coach gave him a strong impression of the new staff.
"I had a really good time at their Junior Day," he said. "It was a great day, another opportunity to meet all the coaches again and further that relationship. I also liked getting to know some of the other players from around the state, guys like Nacarius Fant and Elijah Bell and Damien Harris, Derek Kief from Cincinnati. There were a lot of good players there. It was fun being around them."
Asked what his early impressions of Stoops are, Baker said: "A great guy. A real motivated guy. You can tell he's determined to get UK where it should be."
And of new UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown?
"The same. A tireless worker. A ton of energy. You can tell he puts everything into his job. He told me that no other school is going to recruit me harder than they are and that I'm their No. 1 priority for this class. That made me feel really good."
As a junior, Barker passed for 2,072 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 1,455 yards and 18 scores. He is currently rated the No. 5 quarterback prospect in the Class of 2014 by FOX Sports and Scout.
Barker said Brown came prepared with various charts outlining what his offense has been able to do at places like Troy and Texas Tech. "It was remarkable," he said.
"He told me I was a really good fit for what they do because of my arm strength and accuracy," Barker added. "They also like my leadership skills."
What's next up for the elite prospect?
"I was planning on going down to Tennessee this coming weekend, but I'm not sure now because we have district (basketball) tournament coming up, and there's going to be practice for that," Barker said. "But I do want to get down there sometime and see what it's like."
Junior Day gives Barker new image of UK
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