Drew Barker is the starter at Kentucky after a strong performance in spring practices, and coach Mark Stoops says that the sophomore has made a significant jump since the end of the 2015 season.
“I’ve seen a big change in Drew and I want to continue to see that,” Stoops said during a teleconference call on Wednesday. “I’ve seen a maturity in him. He’s much more composed on and off the field. I see a guy much more hungry to learn.”
Barker played in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2015, starting the last two games of the season. He finished the year with 364 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
With Barker earning the starting job, it means junior college transfer Stephen Johnson II has an uphill climb to earn playing time in his two years of eligibility.
“Any junior college player that we recruit, certainly we would not be recruiting that position if we didn’t think there was a great opportunity for that player to be a starter,” Stoops said. “At the position, we have a lot of confidence in Stephen and he’s done a great job … but Stephen knew exactly where he stood when he came to the program.”
Stoops named Barker the starter after the Blue-White Spring Game in April, where the sophomore quarterback completed 12 of 18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson completed six of his 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown in the scrimmage, but also added 69 rushing yards on eight carries.