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Kentucky Wildcats Musings: Terry Wilson, Season Outlook, and Basketball Recruiting

Coach Cal is keeping his options open in 2019. Stoops is going all in with Touchdown Terry.

Kentucky Wildcats athletics is about to ramp up to full steam ahead in the coming weeks. Football season is kicking off on Saturday and John Calipari has a slew of recruits getting ready to take official visits.

There’s a lot to cover so let’s get to it.

Terry Touchdown Gets the Nod

Oregon Ducks transfer and former JUCO QB Terry Wilson was named the starting quarterback by head coach Mark Stoops in a press conference on Monday. The dual threat player will give the Kentucky offense a dimension that Gunnar Hoak or Danny Clark can’t.

I am of the belief that this was Wilson’s job to lose from the moment he got to campus. I don’t think Eddie Gran and Stoops would have brought him in unless they planned on starting him from the jump, especially if you already have two quarterbacks that have already been in the system for a prolonged period of time.

While Wilson is a dynamic runner and athlete, his throwing ability is being undervalued. Word out of fall camp is that he is a much better thrower than he is given credit for and that his passing ability is on par with Hoak’s and Clark’s. Maybe even a little more advanced.

With the loss of starting left tackle Landon Young, Wilson’s escapability will be crucial for the success of the offense. His ability to run away from trouble will come in handy as the offensive line works to shuffle it’s pieces until John Schlarman is happy with a specific unit.

Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran got this one right. I think Wilson is the best option for the Cats and for the type of offense that Gran has been running for the past two seasons with Stephen Johnson.

That doesn’t mean we won’t see Gunnar Hoak at some point on Saturday. If UK can get a healthy lead and sustain it, then Hoak will be put in the game. Hopefully that’s the scenario. The other is that Wilson is stinking it up and the coaches have to make a change.

Better Team, Same Record?

The Kentucky depth chart is about as deep and as talented as I can remember. Both sides of the ball are filled with Juniors and Seniors as well as three/four star talent. Mark Stoops finally has the team that he has been striving to build since he got here six years ago.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, once again, the schedule is a beast.

With road games at Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Louisville, and Missouri, there isn’t much room for error. And the home games aren’t lightwork either with games against top 25 caliber teams South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Georgia.

I believe that the football team that will take the field this season is better than the football team that took the field in 2017. I also believe that their records will be the same.

It will be a tough pill to swallow if Kentucky just treads water as most football experts think they will this season. The outlook for 2019 isn’t necessarily that of a rebuilding year as it will be a transition year. The talent will still be there but the depth and the experience will not.

UK is fortunate enough to have individuals that could have been NFL draft picks return. UK is fortunate enough to have the most talented running back in the SEC return. And UK is fortunate enough to have a quarterback that can not only pick up where the previous one left off but perhaps elevate the position.

It will take a Herculean effort to finish the season 8-4 or better. The Cats are going to have to win games they never win. Like at Florida or at Tennessee. They’re going to have to beat multiple top 25 teams.

Can they overcome getting in their own way and do it?

John Calipari is Keeping his options Open

The way John Calipari recruits is changing. He used to hone in on a specific number of players and focus on them as his primary targets. But in recent years Cal has been left scrambling more often than he would have liked.

With James Wiseman and Vernon Carey likely going to Memphis and Duke respectively, Calipari has had to shift his focus to Oscar Tshiebwe and Aidan Igiehon.

Tshiebwe is a five star 6-9 center/forward and Igiehon is a four star 6-10 center/forward. Both players are starting to reel in big time offers and they are turning heads in recruiting circles.

While these players aren’t the usual top ten can’t miss prospects, they have a high ceiling. Calipari really adopted this new approach last season with the situations with Trey Young and Mo Bamba.

Young was Cal’s top point guard prospect and Bamba was his top center. But with both opting to wait to pledge, Cal focused on Quade Green and Nick Richards, securing both commitments early in the process.

While Young and Bamba opted for Oklahoma and Texas, Cal wasn’t left standing at the altar as he had been in the past with players like Marques Bolden.

While Green had a decent freshman year and Richards struggled, both have returned to Kentucky much improved. They are key components of a team that can compete for a national title.

So is this the new norm in Kentucky recruiting? There is no doubt that John Calipari will still target the cream of the crop; but now his horizons are broadened and the future seasons brighter.

More information being released about Louisville coaching staff’s role in Brian Bowen scandal

While it is difficult to track which Louisville scandal the NCAA is currently investigating, court documents were released this week that contained more information about violations committed by the coaching staff during Brian Bowen’s visit to campus.

Former assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair have both been implicated in wrong-doing by tampering with forms necessary for documenting the official visit. Allegedly, Johnson sent a text message to ensure that the name of Christian Dawkins, the agent who is accused of arranging a payment to Bowen, was left off of forms meant to document everyone present for the visit.

Fair also completed some paperwork about the visit, leaving Dawkins’ name off as well.

These documents were provided to the court by Rick Pitino’s attorneys as part of his lawsuit against the University of Louisville. This information and more will likely be included in Pitino’s “tell all” book that will be released on Tuesday.