There is some speculation going around as to whether the Kentucky coaching staff intends to sign a quarterback during this 2015 recruiting cycle. We currently have a loaded quarterback roster going into the spring game:
Maxwell Smith (2011) signed as a Rivals (5.5) 3* out of California. Smith has suffered injuries throughout his stay at Kentucky and is unlikely to be able to play this year. He took a redshirt his freshman year. He may wind up as a graduate assistant coach.
Jalen Whitlow (2012) signed as a Rivals (5.5) 3* out of Alabama. He signed as an Athlete and was expected to play as a wide receiver or slot back. He became the quarterback when Newton and Smith went down with injuries. He will begin spring practice at the top of the depth chart and I don't believe he will willingly give up that spot without a fight.
Patrick Towles (2012) signed as a Rivals (5.8) 4* out of Ft. Thomas Highlands. Towles was a participant in Nike's Elite 11. He took a redshirt last year. He hasn't quite performed well enough to see much action. In order to compete, he's going to a quarterback camp during spring break.
Reece Phillips (2013) signed as a Rivals (5.5) 3* out of Tennessee. He was redshirted last season, but is expected to compete for the starting position.
Drew Barker (2014) signed as a Rivals (5.9) 4* out of Connor HS. He was a participant in Nike's Elite 11 and finished 7th in the finals. He is expected to compete immediately for the starting position.
So, with five quarterbacks on the roster and no seniors, there is a log jam which begs the question about taking a quarterback in the 2015 signing class. It is my understanding that the coaching staff wants to sign one. Here's the list of who has a Kentucky offer:
Jarrett Stidham is a Rivals (6.0) 4* and is ranked by Rivals as the #1 Dual Threat QB in the nation and the nation's 48th best overall player. He was born in Kentucky and moved to Texas at a young age. He's committed to Texas Tech. He's on the Nike Elite 11 watch list. Before committing to the Red Raiders, Stidham had offers from Alabama, Arizona St., Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Kentucky, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn St., TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M and Washington St.
Elijah Sindelar is a Rivals (5.6) 3* out of Caldwell County (Princeton) and is ranked 19th nationally as a pro style QB by Rivals. He has committed to Purdue. Sindelar is on Nike's Elite 11 watch list. Before committing to Purdue, Sindelar also had offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Toledo and WKU.
Deandre Francois is a Rivals (5.5) 3* out of Orlando, FL and is unranked by Rivals. He is on Nike's watch list for The Opening. The Orlando Sentinel ranks Francois as the 57th best player in Florida. He has offers from Florida, Florida St., Miami, Ohio St., Tennessee, Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Florida, and Wake Forest. He's likely to commit to either Florida or Florida State. Francois was named the overall best QB at Nike's Elite 11 camp in Orlando. Francois has received an invitation to the Elite 11 finals at the Nike campus. Francois hasn't shown much interest in the Wildcats.
Andre Brown is listed by Rivals as an (5.5) 3* unranked Athlete. 247 Sports, however, shows him as a QB. He's from Decatur, GA. Brown is on the Elite 11 watch list. Brown has offers from Duke, Kennesaw St., Kentucky, Marshall and NC State.
Lorenzo Nunez is a dual threat Rivals (5.9) 4* QB out of Kennesaw, Ga. He's on Nike's Elite 11 watch list. Nunez has offers from Ohio St., Clemson, Miami, Tennessee, Boston, (UNC) Charlotte, Kentucky, Maryland, NC State, Nebraska, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Central Florida. He projected to commit to Ohio St.
Drew Lock is a pro style QB from Lee's Summit, MO and is ranked 5th nationally at his position by Rivals who rates him as a (5.8) 4*. He's on Nike's Elite 11 watch list. Lock was offered by UK on Feb. ?? He has offers from Missouri, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Virginia and West Virginia. 247 Sports projects him to sign with Missouri.
Tucker Israel is a Rivals (5.6) 3* from Lake Nona, FL which is a suburb of Orlando and holds several Florida passing records. He is unranked as a QB by Rivals. He committed to Clemson, but has solicited Twitter followers from the BBN. Israel is on Nike's Elite 11 watch list. He is ranked at # 60 in the Orlando Sentinel's top 100 players in Florida. In 2012, Israel was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 5A Player of the Year. On January 17th this year, he was offered by Florida and Clemson. He attended Clemson's Junior Day on February 1st and committed on the 3rd. In addition to Clemson and Florida, he has offers from Ole Miss, East Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Northern Illinois, Texas Tech and UCLA. Here's his highlight video. Israel came in 7th in the Orlando Elite 11 camp.
Why would Israel flip from Clemson to Kentucky? It might happen because Clemson has offered 15 quarterbacks. Six have committed elsewhere which leaves nine on the table. Of those nine, Israel is the lowest rated, so you know he is smart enough to know Clemson is going to take the best available and they've offered several QBs in the Rivals Top 100. Kentucky could be nice Plan B for Israel.
Brady White was the latest offer on Tuesday, March 19th. He's a California (Gardena) kid who is ranked #78 in Nike's top 100. He sits as Nike's 6th highest ranked QB behind #10 Ricky Town, # 11 Josh Rosen, #50 Kyler Murray, and #68 Brandon Wimbush. Rivals has him as a (5.9) 4*.
Here's his video.
Kentucky has also shown some interest (no offer yet) in Alex Hornibrook out of Malvern, PA., according to Wildcat Blue Nation. Hornibrook is a Rivals (5.5) 3*. He's another pro style QB. "One other guy I want to introduce to you today is Alex Hornibrook, a 5.5 3 - star pro-style QB from Malvern, Pennsylvania. I don't know a lot about him yet but he has nice measurables standing at 6' 4" and weighting 200 lbs. The coaching staff recently contacted him and is planning on visiting him to watch him throw."
He isn't the only QB that the staff is interested in looking at. According to 247 Sports, the Staff is looking at the following quarterbacks (in no particular order): (Note: Player's linked names in Bold means that they are on the Elite 11 watch list) Payton Veraldi, Dalton, GA; Jacob Hamilton, Russellville, AL; Mitchell Guadagni, Hudson, OH; Brenton Martin, Marietta, GA; Brandon Butts, Blountsville, OH; Matt Williams, Smyrna, TN; Daniel David, Hoschton, GA; Nathan Elliott, Celina, TX; Brandon Battle, Waldorf, MD; Tommy Stevens, Indianapolis, IN; Reese Ryan, Lexington, KY; Blake Hawkins, Luka, MS; and Lamar Jackson, Boyton Beach, FL. Interest doesn't translate into an offer.
Kentucky has not offered the quarterback big dog in Florida, consensus 5* Torrance Gibson who has offers from just about everyone (around 50 offers). Nike ranks him as an Athlete (#30 in the Nike top 100). It appears the Ft. Lauderdale American Heritage QB is going to commit to either Ohio State or Miami, according to the 247 Sports experts. However, he also is showing interest in Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Tennessee and UCF. Our staff has also not offered 5* Josh Rosen or 5* Ricky Town, both from California.
I believe that the staff's main (for now) interest is in flipping Tucker Israel. That is just my opinion and I have no facts to support my opinion other than a tweet from Israel soliciting followers from the BBN. He is not as big as Drew Barker, but he reminds me of Barker. He has excellent fundamentals and knows the spread whether from the shotgun or pistol. Neal Brown has been quoted as saying he wants to run an offense similar to Oklahoma State's which is a legacy offense run by Dana Holgerson while serving as the OC at Oklahoma State, which means this offense comes from the Hal Mumme/ Mike Leach coaching tree.
The offense isn't the old school Mumme Air Raid of constant dinks and doinks supplemented by a minimal run game to keep the D honest. The Holgerson/Brown offense is more balanced because it has a running game which we saw some of last season. In other words, it is the offense that Neal Brown ran at Texas Tech and tried to run last year at UK: an Air Raid passing game with a Zone Read (option) running game out of the shotgun and the pistol.
With our depth at quarterback, Neal Brown can choose to sign one or not without hurting our future at the position. That depth may be the reason why Stidham and Sindelar committed elsewhere and it could also be the reason why the QBs we've offered haven't shown a lot of interest so far.
So, does UK sign a quarterback or not? Or, is it just too early to tell?