The news we have all been waiting on finally comes out just a day before a huge football recruiting weekend occurs in Lexington. Looking to put the final touches on a historic recruiting haul, Vince Marrow has reeled in one of the biggest recruits of his UK tenure in Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood. The monster quarterback (6-foot-5, 237 pounds) was a top-50 prospect per the 247 Sports Composite out of high school and instantly becomes the highest ranked recruit to play quarterback at the school since Tim Couch. Get excited, Big Blue Nation.
The Jacksonville, Florida native brings a very unique skill set to the position and Kentucky proved this season that they have the personnel to pull off the correct offensive scheme for the jumbo quarterback. The former Elite 11 participant has the size, physicality, and athletic ability to be a real force in the run game but also has the big arm to make sure defenses cannot sneak safeties into the box. He has some raw parts to his game, but there’s no denying his talent level.
Now in the KSR Film Room, we will break down some tape of Joey Gatewood and show you just what kind of player Kentucky will be adding to their quarterback room. The big guy picked the right offense to play in.
In mop up time during last year’s Music City Bowl demolishing of Purdue, Gus Malzahn decides to dial up an inverted veer run on fourth-and-long. On this play, the offensive line and running back are running your typical sweep action to the left with a pulling guard. However, the wrinkle occurs with the playside defensive end. No. 98 in white is unblocked on purpose and must make a decision. Instead of diving for the quarterback, he plays the handoff and that means read time for the quarterback. Gatewood pulls it down and heads towards the endzone.
This was a play UK had a ton of success with in the Arkansas win. The run element of Lynn Bowden Jr. allowed for UK’s backs to get outside and collect some chunk plays. They went away from it as the season wore on, but it is definitely a look they should go back to with Gatewood under center.
You want zone reads? The big guy can zone read.
Gatewood is very light on his feet when beginning to open it up on runs with the ability to sprint away from chasing defensive line players. There is no denying that he is a big time athlete.
The athletic plays are fun, but you also want to see your running quarterback’s finishing ability. There are going to be times that he is going to have to use that God given size and run through some big, bad defenders in the SEC. He flashed some of that in high school despite running with a very high pad level more times than not.
That’s enough of the running ability. With one look at his size and athletic ability, we all know what his ceiling could be as a rusher. However, at the end of the day, you have to be able to beat the defense with your arm behind center despite what Kentucky accomplished in 2019. Gatewood’s best attribute might just be the touch he delivers the football with.
You would like to see the the quarterback shift his weight forward and deliver the ball with more zip, but you really cannot complain about the result. Gatewood puts the ball right on the money by placing it on the receiver’s outside shoulder which creates a reception despite some sticky man coverage. The quarterback is not phased by the pressure and delivers a beautiful football. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a UK quarterback make a throw like this in a game.
You want a cannon? He’s got a bazooka.
Throwing against his body, the quarterback turns loose an absolute bomb and the wide receiver does not have to break stride with two defenders chasing after. This is some big league stuff.
With any quarterback, at one time or another you are going to have to be a playmaker on your own. It will be essential for you to be able to make something happen when there is a missed assignment or broken play. Gatewood flashes that ability in the red zone.
His high school tape is really fun to watch and there really is no denying the skill set that Joey Gatewood possesses. The jumbo athlete was a high four-star recruit for a reason and his film proves that. He has elite athleticism for his size to go with a powerful arm and the ability to put touch on the football. This what a big time football recruit is suppose to look like.
With all that said, there are still major parts of his game to fix. Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix are both very good quarterbacks, but there were reasons Gatewood could not beat either out. Currently he is a rough around the edges prospect and having to sit for a redshirt season could ultimately be a very good thing. He needs to sharpen up some of his short and intermediate throws from the pocket and improve his progression processing. When rushing, he is loose with the football and must tighten that up. He runs with a very high pad level and that really needs to be corrected. There’s a bunch of stuff to improve on, but man this ceiling is high.
Seeing the accuracy in the downfield passing game combined with the pocket mobility should get anyone excited. You add that in with fleet-footedness that guys his size just shouldn’t have. He has got some big league tools that will give Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw the big league quarterback they’ve sought after for a very long time. We should all be excited to see how they develop him into an offense that seems tailor-made to the skills he possesses.
We should all probably pump the brakes on the expectations, but man that is hard to do when you see some of the stuff he puts on tape.