South Carolina seemed to be in the driver's seat the entire process to land the services of four-star quarterback recruit Drew Barker.
Until he made his announcement.
Barker, who seemingly favored the Gamecocks the entire recruiting process, pulled the switch and committed to instate school Kentucky during an announcement at his high school Friday afternoon.
Barker chose between his three finalists: South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. While the Volunteers gave it a run, Kentucky and South Carolina were the two schools at the forefront for the last several months of Barker's recruitment.
It was all South Carolina for the longest time until Kentucky named Mark Stoops the new head coach of the Wildcat football program. The previous staff was resigned to the fact that Barker would never end up at UK and thus didn't make him a priority. That was not the case with Stoops and the new Wildcat coaching staff.
The relentless recruitment of Barker by the Kentucky staff and enormous instate pressure to attend Kentucky seemingly beat out all the hard work and momentum that the Gamecocks had built up until this point. In recent months, Barker started to surmount to that pressure and it opened his eyes to the Wildcats. Still, the Gamecocks did not give up the fight and continued to lead as recently as a few days ago. Quarterback coach GA Mangus spent eight hours with Barker and his family on Thursday and was reassured that there was no need to be recruiting other quarterbacks.
As it turned out...there was.
Barker made his decision on Kentucky Wednesday night before the trip by GA Mangus to visit with Barker. Mangus was instrumental in the recruitment of Barker and if this was a football decision, it's a no-brainer where Barker would have chosen. However, sometimes things can be more than just strictly playing football.
Barker will head to Kentucky as Mark Stoops cornerstone in his hopes of building a sustainable, winning program. It'll be a tough uphill battle but Barker is an extremely talented quarterback and this is quite a loss for the Gamecocks in the 2014 class.
Where does South Carolina go from here? It's tough to say. They've had Tyler Harris, another four-star quarterback, seemingly wanting that offer from the Gamecocks and have also been visited by Cole Garvin from Georgia. Those are a few names that could pop up soon with a potential offer. The Gamecocks could also skip a quarterback in the class especially with their limited amount of scholarship offers. There are options in 2015 and 2016 that South Carolina has a great shot at already so they do have a few different scenarios that could play out.
South Carolina is slowly building a stable of strong quarterbacks behind Connor Shaw with Dylan Thompson, Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch. The future is bright so the loss of Drew Barker isn't as bad as it could be since it's not a necessity.
However, you always want to win with the best and Drew Barker is one of the best quarterback prospects in this class.