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May 10, 2013HEBRON, Ky. - It was arguably the most anticipated football recruiting story line in Kentucky since the Tim Couch days. The result was a huge win for the Wildcats.
Burlington (Ky.) Conner quarterback Drew Barker committed to Kentucky at a ceremony at his school on Friday, turning down offers from finalists South Carolina and Tennessee.
"This has been a very difficult decision, but I feel the university I'm choosing is the best overall fit for me academically, athletically and socially," Barker said. "So with that being said, I'll be pursuing my football career at the University of Kentucky."
Barker's decision to attend UK would have been unimaginable just six months ago. The previous coaching staff in Lexington had not made him a recruiting priority even though Barker grew up as a big Kentucky basketball fan.
The four-star quarterback had written the Wildcats off and was working on a two-year long relationship with Steve Spurrier, G.A. Mangus and the South Carolina coaching staff.
Kentucky's recruiting fortunes have drastically changed for better since Mark Stoops took over the program late last year, but Barker's commitment is undoubtedly the biggest to date. Not only is he the nation's No. 6 pro-style quarterback, but he is also connected to many of Kentucky's other top recruiting targets in Ohio and up and down the east coast.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound prospect was rated the No. 4 quarterback at all of the Rivals camp events this spring. In addition to his finalists he had accumulated offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Miami, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Purdue and Vanderbilt among others.
While other high-profile quarterbacks had expressed interest in UK, including four-star prospects D.J. Gillins from Florida and DeShone Kizer from Ohio, the Wildcats had narrowed their focus exclusively to Barker, making his decision that much more important for the program.
Barker visited the school several times in the early part of this year, most recently for the UK spring game. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown is credited with the win as he served as the Wildcats' lead recruiter throughout the process.