With four players transferring out of Kentucky Wildcats‘ program, the team will need to make some personnel changes on both sides of the ball. But, the most important decision that Mark Stoops needs to make would be the most unpopular of his short tenure in Lexington.
Despite emerging as the favorite in the three-man quarterback derby at the conclusion of spring practice, Jalen Whitlow needs to move to receiver this season.
Make no mistake about it, Whitlow would thrive as a trigger-man in the “Air Raid” offense. This was evident in the spring game, as he completed 17 of 28 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. His skills as a runner would give the Wildcat offense a completely different dimension than any of the other signal callers.
However, the Wildcats have plenty of depth under center. Sure, Whitlow started the final seven games last year, but Maxwell Smith won the job in fall camp, and turned in a couple of solid performances before an ankle injury curtailed his season. Considering how well Smith and Patrick Towles played throughout spring practice, the Wildcats have no shortage of viable options at quarterback.
The receiving corps is a completely different story. With the departures of DeMarcus Sweat and Bookie Cobbins, the Wildcats have only four receivers on scholarship. Even if — and it’s a big if — a couple of walk-ons were to emerge, UK will still find itself lacking the type of depth that it needs to effectively run the “Air Raid” offense.
That’s why using Whitlow as a wideout this fall makes so much sense. After all, he split time between quarterback and receiver during his senior year in high school, catching 12 passes for 165 yards and two TDs. While his collegiate experience as a receiver is limited to just one catch for 33 yards (on a pass from WR Demarco Robinson), he would provide the Cats with a reliable target that knows how to make opposing defenders miss.
In other words, Whitlow is just the sort of playmaker that the receiving corps will need this fall after finishing 122nd nationally, with only six passing plays longer than 30 yards.
So, what are the odds that he lines up exclusively as a wideout this fall?
Unless if one of the other quarterbacks clearly separates himself from the rest of the pack in fall camp, it doesn’t seem very likely.
However, if Stoops wants to get his best 11 athletes on the field, he’ll move Whitlow to receiver to give the ‘Cats a shot at a bowl game this season.
Terry Johnson is a college football writer for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TPJCollFootball, like him on Facebook and/or add him to your network on Google+