Terry Wilson is entering into his second year as the starter for the Kentucky Wildcats football team. He started all 13 games last season; a season in which the Cats went 10-3 and won the Citrus Bowl.
While Wilson’s numbers weren’t staggering, he did the job and provided stability that has mostly been in flux in recent years.
Wilson’s improvement is paramount to Kentucky’s success this season and he’s been earning rave reviews in camp. He hasn’t committed one turnover in the two scrimmages and he’s been more accurate.
Wilson isn’t the only QB earning praise. Troy Transfer Sawyer Smith has a cannon for an arm and experience in addition to his talent. If that wasn’t enough, Lynn Bowden is also being utilized more in the passing game to make him even more dangerous than he already was in the first place.
John Clay from the Lexington Herald Leader had a nice summary from UK’s most recent open practice:
The quarterbacks looked good. (That’s plural for a reason.) Starter Terry Wilson was generally on target and even went beyond that with a perfect sideline throw to Josh Ali. Backup Sawyer Smith continues to show a strong arm, especially pushing the ball down the field.
“We’ve gotten so much better at the deep ball this year,” said quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw afterward.
And junior wide receiver Lynn Bowden also threw a few passes Tuesday. Not that this is any sort of surprise. Bowden was a star high school quarterback who completed three of four passes as a freshman. He threw it just once last year, but looks like he could shake off the rust.
One thing we know: offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is going to get the ball in Bowden’s hands as many ways as possible.
This is welcome news to a fan base that hasn’t had a great deal to be confident in during the Mark Stoops tenure.
When Stoops showed up, the quarterback battle was between Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith. Nothing against those guys, but that’s not an ideal situation if you’re looking for a starting QB.
Patrick Towles looked to be the next guy up. He had the recruiting numbers that look great, he was a Kentucky kid, he had the pedigree of an elite athlete (he’s the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning) and he was coached by UK legend Jared Lorenzen.
His primary backup, Drew Barker, was another big time in-state recruit. Unfortunately their QB battle left the locker room divided. Towles transferred after two lackluster years as a starter and Barker was left to be The Man at the position.
Barker’s career was seemingly snake bit as he injured his back against the Florida Gators. He would never start another game as a UK quarterback again.
Enter Stephen Johnson. The JUCO transfer was brought in as Barker’s backup but he was thrust into the spotlight. As a starter at UK, Johnson won 14 games and led the Cats to two straight bowl games. His toughness was legendary. During his two years there essentially wasn’t a backup.
After Johnson’s senior year he revealed that he had multiple injuries and had to undergo multiple surgeries as well. The lack of a serviceable backup meant that Johnson had to play through injuries.
Last season, Wilson was backed by Gunnar Hoak. While many fans thought that Hoak should have deserved a shot, every time he entered the game, he looked out of sorts and was very inaccurate.
With Hoak now at Ohio State, there won’t be rumblings from the fans to see him play. This is Wilson’s job. There’s no question marks in fall camp as to whose team this is.
But it’s good to have a QB of Smith’s caliber on the team to backup WIlson in case of injury. His ability to run the football puts him at risk therefore a quality backup is essential.
Kentucky is also set up for the future with Walker Wood, freshmen Nik Scalzo (out with an ACL injury), and Amani Gilmore. Both Gilmore and Scalzo were three star prospects according to 247.
The next generation of Kentucky quarterback is getting ready to start his senior year of high school. Beau Allen is another high profile QB that is also an instate product. Kentucky is set up for years to thrive at quarterback with a combination of talent and depth.