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Kentucky Football: Patrick Towles Took The Road Less Traveled

Towles decided to buck the societal trend of choosing the easier path and for it, he has been named the starting QB for UK.

Andy Lyons

Coach Mark Stoops has announced his starting Quarterback for the 2014 season and it comes in the form of Sophomore Patrick Towles.

One year ago, the Big Blue Nation was just a few weeks away from opening day in Nashville against Bobby Petrino's Hilltoppers.  The question was; would the quarterback be Jalen Whitlow and his running ability or Maxwell Smith and the much-anticipated rebirth of the pass-first Air Raid.  Patrick Towles was nowhere to be found unless you scrolled down on the depth chart.

As the season wore on and the losses mounted, it was evident there would be change in 2014 and the vast majority of people thought it would be in the form of 4-star QB and Kentucky boy Drew Barker.  Barker had not only committed to UK in the spring before the season started, he had quickly become one of UK's most important recruiters.  The writing on the wall could not have been clearer that 2014 was going to be the beginning of a new era, specifically at the QB position with prized recruit Drew Barker.

A decorated past and a promising future:

Not so long ago, Towles was the Kentucky boy that was going to rescue his state's school and be the next Tim Couch.  Patrick Towles' senior year at Highlands was one of legend, only it actually happened.















2011 (Sr.)












The per game average is 40 yards rushing and 1 rushing TD, 12-18 passing for 255 yards and 3 TDs.  All of that with only ONE total interception all year, in 279 pass attempts.  I am not sure I could have done much better on a video game.  Towles led Highlands to the state championship that year, which was their third consecutive one with him under center.

Towles would go on to earn Parade All-American honors, Kentucky Mr. Football, Gatorade player of the year in Kentucky, and the Paul Hornung award for the player of the year in Kentucky.  Towles was also ranked as the #1 high school prospect in the state and a top 10 Pro-Style QB in America.

Bucking the trend of the easy way out:

In the age of instant gratification among fans and entitlement among players, it is a modern miracle that we are where we are today with Towles.  A few injuries into his freshman year and Towles faded into the background of 2012.  He seemingly faded out of the UK picture altogether when he was not even considered a threat to Maxwell Smith or Jalen Whitlow last year as the starter for 2013, leading to his redshirt last year.

The reason Towles did not beat out or even compete with Whitlow or Smith last season was mostly due to his long throwing motion and lack of consistency in the short passing game.  To be in Neal Brown's version of the Air Raid offense, have a slow release and an inconsistent short passing game is a career death sentence.  By the end of 2013, Towles had even fallen to fourth on the depth chart behind freshman Reese Phillips.

Would anyone have blamed Towles if he had packed up after last year and moved on to another school?  Not only would they have not blamed him, it is unlikely much of a fuss would have been made of it.  Towles had gone from a high school phenom to injured freshman to being buried on a depth chart behind other underclassmen.

There was also the fact that Towles was not even a Stoops guy; he had committed to Joker Phillips.  That is not to say Stoops would not have recruited him, but rather that Coach Stoops had landed his prize recruit in Barker and Towles was simply a holdover from a regime everyone would rather forget ever happened.

So here was Towles, a highly decorated former savior of the program being told he lacked all necessary skills for the new regime while staring up at three players ahead of him.  He could have easily taken his ball and gone home.  After all, Towles was a parade all-American and considered next in line of what has been one heck of a run of quarterbacks from the state of Kentucky to help lead their home state school to prominence. Why should he adjust to the program... Shouldn't the program adjust to him?

Towles got to work.  He improved his work ethic and off the field focus.  He hired private trainers to adjust his motion to what it would take for him to win the job.  He did not blame anyone, he did not wallow in self-pity wondering why he was not being given a fair shake.  The resolve Towles has shown by buckling down, taking responsibility for his shortcomings and doing what he had to do is rare in today's world.

"What he did - and it took him a little bit to get to this point - is he basically looked himself in the mirror," Brown said Monday.  "(He) said, 'What I'm doing off the field, what I'm doing on the field, is not good enough for me to be the starting quarterback at the University of Kentucky.  So what can I do to change that?'"

So here we are; Towles is the starter of an upstart football team with a vigor that has not been seen in years.  He took the road less traveled, worked his butt off and earned his spot instead of running away to a lesser team where it would have been easier.  Coach Stoops and Coach Brown have also taken the road less traveled and gone with the guy who earned his spot over the fan favorite (myself included) and prized recruit.  It is a great story; I look forward to seeing it play out and look forward to Towles' evolution on the field in front of us.

Below is the video of Stoops and Brown discussing the decision.