Kentucky Wildcats' Quarterback Race Coming Into Focus

By Tim Letcher

Earlier in the week, the Kentucky Wildcats announced that quarterback Jalen Whitlow would be leaving the school via transfer.

Whitlow had been one of the five candidates to be the starting quarterback for the Wildcats this fall, but he was told that he was no longer in the mix. Head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown asked Whitlow to consider moving to wide receiver, but Whitlow was not interested in that scenario.

Brown said that Whitlow’s inconsistency was a big problem, especially in Kentucky’s “Air Raid” offense. Being able to make the throws on a regular basis was not something Whitlow had shown during the spring.

Whitlow started 15 games in two seasons as a Wildcat. As a freshman, he passed for 801 yards and five touchdowns, and also rushed for three scores. Last season, Whitlow started eight games and passed for 1,033 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 457 yards and six touchdowns.

With Whitlow no longer in the picture, the quarterback race is down to four, although it seems realistic that Maxwell Smith may miss some time in 2014. That leaves redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles, redshirt freshman Reese Phillips and true freshman Drew Barker to compete for the job.

Reports out of spring practice seem to favor Barker and Towles. Both are home-grown talent, both were four-star quarterbacks in high school, and both, at one point or another, have been labeled as the “quarterback of the future” for Kentucky.

Stoops and Brown face a tough decision as spring practice nears its end. Kentucky needs to bounce back from last season’s 2-10 record, and improved play at the quarterback position could be a big part of the improvement.

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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