Emotional return for Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker
Kaleb Barker led Troy to a 43-14 victory over Campbell in his first action since a torn ACL last season. Barker, a QBC Birmingham trainee, threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Barker led an offense that gained 527 yards Saturday night. He threw touchdown passes of 61 yards – a career high for him to a wide-open Reggie Todd – and 10 yards to Luke Whittemore. He completed 18 passes in 29 attempts for 282 yards.
“I think it should have been more. That’s kind of always how I’ll be,” Barker said when reminded of his numbers. “I am super thankful, though. I mean, I was pretty emotional coming over to Trojan Walk, feeling like I’m back and it’s time to go. But I’m happy that we got the win.”
The senior sounded surprised that his emotions were so high before the game. But anyone vaguely familiar with his story understands what it means for Barker to be out there.
He won the starting job last season at the end of an epic competition with Sawyer Smith. He got better and better as the first half of last season unfolded. But in the sixth game he suffered a torn ACL – the third of his career – and was lost for the season.
Another grueling rehab was followed by another competition this spring with Smith, who went 5-2 as Troy’s starting quarterback after Barker went down. Smith is now a graduate transfer at Kentucky.
Barker’s effort – and the opportunity this season he’s earned for himself – hit him hard as the Trojans got on a bus to assemble for the Trojan Walk Saturday afternoon.
“Couple tears before the game on the bus ride over,” Barker said. “… You know, it’s hard for me to describe that to y’all or explain that to y’all because it’s different for an athlete that goes down with that type of injury. It’s just a surreal moment.