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Kentucky Football Player Preview: Will Gunnar Hoak finally get his chance?

Don’t count Hoak out in the QB competition, even if he isn’t starting in Week 1.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats have yet to name starting quarterback for the 2018 season.

It’s been a tight competition between Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson throughout spring football, the summer and into fall camp.

With Week 1 almost here, is Hoak going to finally get his chance to shine under the bright lights of Kroger Field?

Gunnar Hoak

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Dublin, Ohio

Measurements: 6’4”, 206 lbs.

School: Dublin Coffman High School

Recruit Rankings: No. 37 pro-style quarterback in 2017 class

Gunnar Hoak was recruited to Kentucky by Vince Marrow, of course. He was also recruited to play under Shannon Dawson’s pro-style offense, for which he was a perfect fit.

While Eddie Gran runs an offense that is more focused on the run-pass option, Hoak has adjusted and has had two full years to learn the new style of play.

Many media members and “experts” have tabbed JUCO transfer Terry Wilson as the starter, but according to the coaching staff the competition is still very open.

Yes, Terry Touchdown is a cool nickname. But there really is not a need for a nickname when your real name is Gunnar, especially for a quarterback.

Hoak passed for 2,584 yards and 30 touchdowns with just three interceptions as a high school junior, which was followed by a senior campaign of 1,798 yards and 14 touchdowns with only six picks.

There is a lot to like about Gunnar Hoak, which is why Kentucky recruited him and why he still has a chance to lead this year’s team under center.

“Gunnar has the experience,” Mark Stoops said after the Blue-White spring game. “He’s been around. He’s very poised. He looked very good last spring. He’s been around here a while, so I like what Gunnar’s doing.”

Hoak enrolled early in the Spring of 2016 to get a jump start on adjusting to college football. He has two full years of experience in Lexington, and that gives him a leg up in many ways.

Hoak redshirted his first season, as Drew Barker was the designated started and JUCO transfer Stephen Johnson was on his way to play backup. Hoak was available in 2017, but did not see any game action as he sat at No. 3 on the depth chart.

With Eddie Gran’s offense, there is really only one question that remains for Gunnar Hoak. Can he run the football?

“He’s mobile,” quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw told the Courier-Journal about Hoak. “Yeah, he can run. Yeah, he’s fine. He can do all that kind of stuff.”

Whether or not he is named the starter, Hoak had better be ready to run when he does see the field.

“Doesn’t matter who our quarterback is, they’re going to have an opportunity to run the ball,” Eddie Gran said to the Courier-Journal. “We’ve got to keep the defense even with us. We’ve got to try to equalize it if you will. And the way you do that is with the run-pass option.”

Hoak believes he has what it takes to lead this team to where it needs to go. But you have to wonder whether all of the hype of Touchdown Terry Wilson is in the back of his mind.

For now, Wilson looks very likely to be the guy in Week 1, but if recent history has shown us anything, it’s that the guy who starts Game 1 isn’t always who finishes the season atop the depth chart.

Patrick Towles began the 2015 season as Kentucky’s starter, only to have Drew Barker finish the season.

Barker would open 2016 as the guy, but poor play and injury led to Stephen Johnson taking over and never looking back.

Even if Wilson starts the year, don’t assume Hoak is bound to the bench for all of 2018, and we should expect to see plenty of him in Week 1 vs. Central Michigan and possible Week 3 vs. Murray State.

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