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Mark Stoops updates UK’s quarterback battle

Mark Stoops has made it clear that he’s staying patient and letting it play out.

Jason Marcum

Kentucky has a chance to put together an exciting 2018 football season, but it’ll largely depend on how much the winner of the quarterback battle—Gunnar Hoak or Terry Wilson—lives up to expectations.

Hoak is a redshirt sophomore who hasn’t yet seen a snap because he’s been behind Stephen Johnson and Drew Barker on the depth chart. Wilson is also a sophomore who was once an Oregon Ducks signee. He wound up going the junior college route and was a top-five JUCO player.

Head coach Mark Stoops gave his thoughts on the battle at SEC Media Days on Monday.

“I like the quarterback situation. I like where we’re at. I felt very confident with it,” said Stoops.

“Gunnar Hoak, he’s been in our system. He hasn’t played a college snap yet. He’s been in our system. He practiced a bunch. He knows what we are doing. He’s poised. He has always been poised since he stepped on campus. He’s poised. He is accurate. He knows where to go with the football. He can make all the throws. I like what Gunnar’s doing. I look forward to watching him this summer.

“With Terry, he’s a dynamic guy. I don’t know if I’ve seen it all yet. Until you get live, you really cannot see all his skill sets. Obviously you can see the way he can run. He makes all of the throws. He’s an unbelievable worker, but he’s dynamic. He’s a big, strong guy. And he’s dynamic with the ball in his hands, too. So I feel good about our options.”

Wilson redshirted his freshman year at Oregon, preserving his eligibility. Thanks to that, he’ll now have three years at Kentucky.

Hoak has emerged as a dark horse in this battle, and could legitimately surpass Wilson to be the day-one starter.

When asked on a timetable for making a decision, Stoops emphasized patience and letting the battle play out as long as it needs to.

“No, I really don’t (have a timetable),” said Stoops. “I think it would be reckless just to make the decision until it plays out. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Senior tight end C.J. Conrad also weighed in, saying regardless of who wins the battle, they’ll be comfortable, and the team will be able to help them become a leader.

“I think the thing with the quarterbacks, because it’s been asked about a lot, we see these guys in practice on a daily basis, so these guys are comfortable throwing to us,” said Conrad. “Just because they haven’t played in a game doesn’t mean they can’t. We respect those guys. We think all those guys are really talented.”

Kentucky opens up the season against Central Michigan on Sept. 1. We will know who the starting quarterback is on that day, but we might not know it prior to that.