The 2019 regular season is over, but there’s still more to be handled. We’ve got two signing days to cover and a bowl trip to make, but now feels like the right time to take a look at the future of the roster. Over the next few weeks, we will be going position by position to tell you the current state of each spot. Consider this a very early preview of 2020 spring as the Wildcats enter what could be a monster season thanks to what is coming back.
To no one’s surprise, first up will be the most important position on the field. Kentucky survived disaster in its quarterback room this fall, but should feel very promising about that position moving forward. Headed into the spring and possibly for some of the bowl prep once the fall semester ends, Kentucky could have seven scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. Darin Hinshaw will have plenty of bodies to tinker with.
Terry Wilson started the first 15 games of his career in Lexington and accumulated a 12-3 record. After completing 63.5 of his passes, the dual-threat quarterback was knocked out for the season with a torn patellar tendon. The junior will enter 2020 at QB1 for the third year in a row. Mark Stoops has gone on public record stating that the Wildcats want to get the forward pass back in the offense, but that they will also use some of the hybrid option schemes they’ve been so successful with the last seven games of 2019.
It appears Sawyer Smith will enter his final year of eligibility as the top backup and he could enter spring as the first-team’s top option. Wilson will be out of the early practice session due to his ongoing recovery, but that could change if Smith needs any type of operation to help repair the wrist or shoulder he injured this season. The Troy transfer has a very live arm and would have a much better grasp of the playbook after arriving just before fall camp started in 2019.
Both Amani Gilmore and Nik Scalzo redshirted in their first season in the program, but they were for much different reasons. Camp reports told us that Scalzo was the favorite to win the QB3 job, but the Fort Lauderdale native tore his ACL in August. He’ll be out for spring ball and UK is hoping he makes a full recovery in time for fall camp. Gilmore is a lefty who throws the prettiest looking ball on the team, but he is extremely raw. The plan was originally for the Louisiana native to play baseball for Nick Mingione’s squad, but there’s no denying that he needs seasoning at the position.
Walker Wood will be back for his redshirt junior season and the veteran may be required to get a ton of first-team snaps due to injuries at the position. He will be a vital piece for the newcomers to lean on as they learn the new scheme. He’s a guy that will likely never play a meaningful snap in his career, but every program needs players like him to grow each year.
Kentucky has swung and missed on their top quarterback prospects in every recruiting haul since Drew Barker pledged to the Big Blue in the summer of 2013. After seeing commitment flips from both Mac Jones and Jarren Williams, Kentucky really needed to hit on a quarterback soon. They did that by reeling in Lexington Catholic product Beau Allen.
The high-three star prospect decided to play for Mark Stoops over Mike Leach at Washington State, David Cutcliffe at Duke, and Neal Brown at West Virginia. The 6-foot-2 pocket passer completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, tossed for over 3,000 yards in 12 games, and averaged over 10 yards per attempt in addition to leading his team in rushing. He throws the ball with great touch and has been a very accurate passer to this point in his career.
He will be headed for a redshirt season, but it was vital for Kentucky to land a big fish in this recruiting haul.
Elsewhere on the trail, Kentucky is hot after Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood and the Jacksonville, Florida native may be the next big fish landed by Vince Marrow. The former top-50 recruit and high four-star prospect figures to be a perfect fit for the new hybrid option attack that Eddie Gran developed with Lynn Bowden Jr. behind center this year. If added, it’s highly likely he’ll have to sit out the 2020 season unless a transfer waiver from the NCAA is received. If landed, he’ll be used a lot in spring ball before becoming a player to help out the scout team once fall camp ends.
Kentucky will enter next year with a ton of options behind center. There are seven scholarship quarterbacks expected to be on the roster and that’s a lot. Due to the nature of the position, you should fully expect at least one and maybe two transfers out of the program. That is the just the state of college football we are currently in. However, there are plenty of solid options.
Terry Wilson will be back for his senior season and Kentucky will be leaning on the veteran to be a playmaker in the fall after losing him this past season. UK now has more proven options at running back and should again have one of the best offensive lines in the SEC. Wide receiver could be a big question mark, but UK will need playmaking from the man behind center.
Similar to last season, this upcoming year will be Terry Touchdown’s show from the beginning. The offense will be as good as No. 3 will allow them to be. There could be issues if the injury bug strikes again, but the future of the spot has been established. Beau Allen seems like the quarterback of the program down the road and Joey Gatewood could be the immediate answer once Terry Wilson moves on. It’s been a long time since Kentucky felt this good about their quarterback room.