Stephen Johnson will be the starting QB for Stoops as long as he doesn’t get injured prior to September 2nd. That’s my opinion but I wholeheartedly believe this to be the case. SJ had a tremendous year for the Cats last year coming in for the injured Drew Barker. The biggest game for Johnson came in Papa John’s Stadium against the dirty birds!
His confidence hasn’t wavered since arriving in Lexington. He came from the College of the Desert where he tallied some impressive stats. He completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 3,210 yards, 34 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 10 games as a sophomore. Johnson also totaled 429 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. In January of 2016 he signed with Kentucky and started classes that semester. Then all those in attendance for the Spring Game last year were treated to a show. Johnson totaled 135 yards passing on 6 of 13 passes which includes an eighty-five yard bomb to Badet. The problem Johnson has had though is ball security and it showed itself in that spring game when Johnson fumbled the ball in the 3rd quarter. If he cleans that aspect of his game up, he will be the man in Lexington all season long. If not, we may see a familiar face under center.
Drew has been an interesting character so far for Kentucky Football. He came in with the same hype as former UK starter Morgan Newton. Everyone had been clamoring to get the ball in his hands and let him lead our program since he set foot on campus. Unfortunately for Drew, a lack of maturity on his part left the coaches wanting and made their job of defending Patrick Towles a lot easier. He got in trouble as a freshman for a September 28th, 2014 incident involving an “airsoft pistol” which saw the entire campus shut down. Then, January 25th comes around and the infamous bar fight between UK and EKU players happened. The video of Drew Barker getting knocked out is scary, amazing, and a little sad. It’s posted below for your viewing pleasure.
Now, up to this point it has not been a very pleasant story for Barker, irony hadn’t played it’s hand yet. So, the hyped up fresh-faced phenom gets handed the reins coming into the season last year and it appears to all of BBN that he is finally the face of Stoops football team. That is until he suffers a back injury that takes him off the field during the third game of the season. Now, the Junior from Burlington, KY has to earn back his spot under center. He has completely changed as far as who he is off the field, can he reverse his fortune between the white lines and become a star for the Wildcats? I believe that through the hard work he’s put in over the last couple of years to battle Towles for a starting spot, beating out Johnson in the preseason last year, and recovering from his injury to get back in the picture, Drew Barker deserves the chance to showcase his talents on the field. This is one thing I’m looking for in the spring game.
Gunnar Hoak, Luke Wright, Danny Clark, and Walker Wood are listed on ukathletics.com as the other Quarterbacks on the roster. Gunnar was impressive last year in the spring game and I think Danny Clark will be huge for us going forward. Walker Wood might surprise some folks out there as well! Regardless of what happens this coming year at the signal calling position, Kentucky is set up to thrive at QB in the future.
It’s Stephen Johnson’s gig to lose. If Barker remains healthy I can see several scenarios that end up with him as the starter by the end of the year. There are few if any scenarios that I see that have any of the others starting this season. This is all being said with the memory of Stephen Johnson excelling last year when I didn’t see him playing meaningful minutes in the preseason last year.