For the last three years, Kentucky has been Benny Snell’s team. For the next two, it will be Terry Wilson’s.
In likely his last regular season game as Kentucky Wildcat, Snell scored two touchdowns and posted his 18th career 100-yard game. While Benny closed in on the school’s rushing record (now 107 yards away), Terry Wilson starred.
Terry Touchdown threw three touchdowns and completed 17-of-23 passes for 261 yards. He also scored once on the ground and gained 79 yards with his legs.
“He was awesome tonight. He was slinging that thing,” C.J. Conrad said. “He looked extremely comfortable out there. That’s awesome. He’s a younger guy, coming from JuCo, only being here less than a year now, it’s going to take some time. He just feels like as the season’s gone on, he’s getting more and more confident. You saw that tonight.”
Kentucky fans saw an enlightening performance, one reminiscent of Lamar Jackson’s Governor’s Cup coming-out party. Jackson racked up 316 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Tonight Wilson had 340 yards and four touchdowns.
Comparisons aside, Wilson’s performance provided promise for a bright future.
“I was really pleased with Terry,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “That’s a tough position to play. There’s gotta be a lot of good pieces around it, but he was really comfortable. He threw some really good passes today in some tight windows. He bought some time with his legs and just really made a lot of good decisions. It’s really encouraging.”
Halfway through the season, there were uncertainties surrounding Wilson. Many called for his job after a subpar performance at Texas A&M. Wilson freely acknowledged he had to work out plenty of kinks.
“When I look back and watch film, there’s been times where I was a bit — not trusting in my reads and not letting it go and not trusting everything,” Wilson said.
Unbeknownst to fans, Wilson was playing through a knee injury and various other bumps and bruises. Still, he persisted through the criticism and led Kentucky to a game-winning drive drive at Missouri that started his resurgence.
“It’s tough, him being a transfer and coming in and not knowing the lay of the land, his teammates and just playing in general,” said Stoops. “Being a first-year starter is difficult in college football, in particular in our league. He’s really grown, stayed the course and stayed steady. He had some highs and lows. It’s tough. He has to be able to handle that and keep pushing forward.”
As his first season comes to a close, Wilson is playing his best football.
“I feel like I’ve been just playing my game, playing football and letting everything happen. I’m not trying to force too much. I’m just playing quarterback.”
Wilson is the first quarterback to lead a Kentucky football team to a nine-win season since Derrick Ramsey in 1977. It’s quite an accomplishment in his first season, but it’s only the beginning.
“It means a lot, but I feel like that’s the standard that’s being applied here. I feel like we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Wilson said. “There still is growing that we need to do but I feel like we’re coming a long way.”
Benny Snell and Kentucky’s seniors carried the Cats to new heights. Now the future is in Wilson’s hands.