Sorting Out Kentucky’s Quarterback Situation

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LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 30: Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Jeremiah Harris (#90) strips the ball from Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson (#15) during a regular season college football game between the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Kentucky Wildcats on September 30, 2017, at Kroger Field in Lexington, KY. (Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Sorting Out Kentucky’s Quarterback Situation

Heading into 2018, Mark Stoops knew he was going to have to replace the graduating Stephen Johnson. However, the Wildcats find themselves in a unique situation at the quarterback position. Find out what that is and meet the players vying for the job as we begin Sorting Out Kentucky’s Quarterback Situation.

An Unexpected Transfer

Heading into spring camp, the quarterback race was expected to be between incumbent Drew Barker and newcomer Terry Wilson. However, Barker surprised many when the redshirt senior announced he was transferring.

Many in the Big Blue Nation thought Barker would be the starter heading into the spring. As a result of his departure, the Cats find themselves in the unique situation of having a quarterback never having thrown a pass in a game. With Barker’s departure, let’s look at the four candidates competing for the job.

Two years ago, Kentucky needed a quarterback when Patrick Towles transferred to Boston College. They plucked Johnson from the junior college ranks and that worked out well for all involved. The Kentucky coaching staff is hoping for the same result with Wilson.

Wilson comes to Kentucky from Garden City Community College in Kansas. He originally committed to Nebraska but changed his mind and ended up at Oregon. In 2017, Wilson threw for 2,113 yards and 26 touchdowns. In addition, he ran for 518 yards and five more scores. He ranks as the second-best dual threat quarterback in the JUCO ranks. Last Word did a profile on him when he signed back in December which you can read here. 

Redshirt sophomore Gunnar Hoak is Wilson’s main competition for the job. Coming out of high school, the Dublin, Ohio native ranked as a four star prospect by ESPN. Many thought Hoak would be the one to transfer, but he remained in Lexington and is now in the mix for the job.

While he has never seen game action, he was one of the stars of the 2017 spring game, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, he completely outplayed Johnson in the contest. 

Hoak’s biggest advantage is he has been in the Kentucky system for two years where Wilson is starting from scratch.

The Darkhorses

As we continue sorting out Kentucky’s quarterback situation, we take a look at two other players also in contention. However, their chances of landing the starting job seem to be slim.

Danny Clark, a three-star player from Ohio, is a redshirt freshman. He originally committed to Urban Meyer and Ohio State. He was a Buckeye pledge for three years before reopening his recruitment before his senior season. Clark said he was “forced to believe he didn’t fit in with the Buckeye offense.” Presumably that means he was recruited over by OSU.

Coming out of high school, Clark rated as the 18th best pro-style quarterback by 24/7 Sports. The lefty quickly committed to the Wildcats and is expected to have a role in the offense sometime in the future.

The fourth player in the mix for the quarterback job is Walker Wood. The local product from Lexington Lafayette is another redshirt freshman. Wood has yet to see much action even in practice due to injuries. He hurt his knee in the 2016 state championship game, then had shoulder surgery during last season.

Though he is still listed as a quarterback, the coaching staff has had discussions of moving him to a different position. Should that happen, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran would only have three signal callers on scholarship.

Who Has The Edge?

Heading into the spring, the quarterback battle is certainly going to be one to watch. Hoak appears to have the advantage for now because of his familiarity with the Kentucky system. However let’s face it, Wilson didn’t sign with Kentucky to sit on the bench.

A run-pass option offense with Wilson and Benny Snell Jr. would get True Blue Fans excited about 2018. Either way, the quarterback battle is going to be one to watch during spring practice.

Thanks for Sorting Out Kentucky’s Quarterback Situation with us here at Last Word On College Football. February Signing Day is approaching rapidly and Last Word has you covered with updates leading up to February 7th.

Main Photo Credit:

LEXINGTON, KY – SEPTEMBER 30: Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Jeremiah Harris (#90) strips the ball from Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson (#15) during a game between the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Kentucky Wildcats. (Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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