LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Drew Barker knew it was bad, but he didn't want anyone else to know.
"It is tough for you, just because there is only one quarterback that can go out there," Barker said. "Especially since you were named the starting quarterback. You were going to be the leader of the team."
He says his back started to bother him after a third quarter hit in the season opening loss to Southern Miss. He didn't tell the coaches until it became unbearable during the New Mexico State game in week three.
"I probably should have gotten it checked out then, but you know, this is your shot, you don't want to give it up, but I tried to play through it and eventually in the New Mexico State game, my leg went completely numb and I was like alright, this is not good, so I finally said something and then had to go through the surgery and all that," he recalls.
Barker had back surgery in November and after limited activity this spring is ready to compete for his former job.
"We had a competition last year, I won it. I got hurt, so I feel like I need to come back out here and just show the coaches I'm ready, I'm healthy. College football is pretty much a what have you done for me lately, and lately I've been hurt and not been able to perform, so I just need to go out there and show them I'm ready," Barker said.
He spent much of the offseason playing golf with teammates, shooting in the high 80s and low 90s, evidence, he says, that his back is fine.
"You wanted to take them to a bowl game and I think every quarterback would say, to watch another guy do it, you're like, dang, but you're also happy at the same time for the team," Barker said. "You can't be a bad teammate. We call them energy vampires."
The layoff did present a chance for him to impress his dad.
"During the Louisville game, I had just had my back surgery two or three days before that, so I was just laying on the couch. Before I left they gave me the play sheet for the game, they scripted out the first 10 or 15 plays," Barker said. "I was like, they're about to throw a touchdown right here. You could see the coverages and everything and Stephen (Johnson) obviously threw a great pass to Garrett (Johnson) for the touchdown and they were looking at me like, what? How did you know that?"
Now he'll see if he can get back on the field to make those plays himself.
The Cats season opener is September 2, at Southern Miss.