Kentucky Wildcats: Quarterback Competition is Wide Open

By Tim Letcher

As the Kentucky Wildcats begin spring drills this weekend, there is one major question looming: who will be the starting quarterback when the season starts in the fall.

Last season, Kentucky used both Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow behind center. Smith suffered through a number of injuries, as he has since his arrival in Lexington, which forced Whitlow into action.

However, it won’t be just those two players vying for the starting spot. There are legitimately five candidates, any of whom could become Kentucky’s starter in the 2014 season opener.

Joining Smith and Whitlow as returnees are redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles and redshirt freshman Reese Phillips. Towles saw limited action as a true freshman before redshirting last season. Phillips has yet to take the field in an official game, although he had a very strong intrasquad scrimmage last spring.

The most intriguing prospect might be true freshman Drew Barker. The four-star recruit from northern Kentucky has already enrolled in school and will participate in spring practice. Barker has all of the tools to effectively run offensive coordinator Neal Brown‘s “Air Raid” offense. And while he lacks in college experience, being on campus early and participating in spring drills can only help Barker’s chances.

If Brown and head coach Mark Stoops are honest with themselves, they will see that neither Smith nor Whitlow are a long-term solution. Towles may have seen his chance go by the wayside as well.

That would seem to leave Barker and Phillips battling for the job. Either of these players would be an upgrade over last season’s signal callers. Stoops and Brown are tasked with choosing the right one to be Kentucky’s next quarterback.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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