LEXINGTON, KY. (WDRB) - Questions, sure there are some:
Can he deal with the pressure?
Is he prepared to lead?
Can he be an effective leader?
UK head coach Mark Stoops has heard them all but he says Drew Barker has what it takes to lead the Wildcats to a great season.
“I like what I've seen so far,” said Stoops Friday at UK Media Day. “Control what you can control, take care of your business, lead by example. He's done that.”
But heading into the new season, the coaches want to see more. The redshirt sophomore said Friday he’s always been a lead by example guy on the field. Now, he’s learning to lead with his words as well.
“I’ve definitely taken a more vocal role,” said Barker who started the last two games and played in five for UK last season. “I feel once I’ve made plays it will go up even higher.”
Doing so may not be easy for Baker who is described by coaches as having a calm demeanor. Co-offensive coordinator Eddie Gran says sometimes you have to be the bad guy to be a good leader.
“If you are going to be a leader, it’s not a popularity contest,” said Gran. “I tell him all the time, if I’m a quarterback and a running back missing a protection, look what Peyton Manning does.”
Barker looked comfortable being front and center at UK media day. If he was feeling any pressure, it did not show.
“Pressure is just something you think in your mind,” said Barker. “If you go out there and you know what you are doing, you are prepared. There really isn’t any pressure.”
That might be easy to say now when things are going great but Stoops says if things get tough Barker will be fine, as long as he is able to stay focused.
“He wants to be labeled as a quality football player, as a quarterback that's going to lead this team. I think he's ready to do that. All the other stuff, that's for y'all (the media) to write and for him not to read.”
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