After receiving the necessary paperwork for immediate eligibility from both the NCAA and SEC, Kentucky quarterback Joey Gatewood is now available on game days.
Will he receive game reps immediately against Ole Miss, though? That’s to be determined.
According to UK head coach Mark Stoops, true freshman quarterback Beau Allen has received the “majority” of reps as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart in recent weeks while the team awaited confirmation from the NCAA and SEC that Gatewood would be eligible. Because of the last-minute change, he doesn’t know if he will look at or adjust the rotation quite yet.
Should they call his number on Saturday, though, Stoops says the former Auburn quarterback will be ready.
“We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see,” he said during his final press conference previewing the Ole Miss game. “Beau has gotten the majority of the backup reps the past two weeks, Joey has still practiced and obviously has run plays all camp and he can step in. We’ll see.”
At this point, the focus is on starting quarterback Terry Wilson, who finished with 239 yards, one touchdown, and one interception through the air to go with 42 yards on the ground. He’ll be the first quarterback on the field, and Stoops believes he’ll continue to make progress.
“Just like any other position, we don’t really ever talk about the backups at any other spot. We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Terry is our starter, I’m excited about Terry. I know he’ll continue to improve, he always has with reps through the season. He did some really good things in the opener, and we expect him to build on that, just like the rest of our team. We were very efficient and very good at times, we just need to be good for 60 minutes.”
When asked about how Gatewood has looked specifically, Stoops said he’s done all the right things in practice both through the air as a passer and on the ground as a runner.
“He’s done a really good job,” Stoops said. “He’s a very athletic guy, as you know. He’s got a good presence about him. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s thrown the ball effectively. He’s been out there working and competing with the rest of our guys.”
The praise comes after an offseason of comparisons to former NFL MVP and current New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, a comparison he tells KSR he’s heard “since middle school” a countless number of times.
“He’s used to that comparison. People have been talking about him and Cam for a long time, but yes, he is that type of talent,” Stoops said back in August. “Obviously, being the first year in a system, he has to work through some things and that comfort level, but just pure, raw athletic ability, he has everything you look for.
“He’s a different type of quarterback than Terry in that he’s so big and strong. He’s a big, strong guy. He sits in that pocket. He can throw the heck out of the football; very talented.”
“He can throw the football very well. He’s got a cannon for an arm. His mechanics are very good but he’s definitely a dual-threat guy,” UK quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said on National Signing Day back in December. “You compare him to a Cam Newton kind of player. I know that’s a lot because Cam Newton was a heck of a player but he has that potential where he can beat you with his legs as well as with his arms. And he’s weighing about 240 right now.”
When will we see that level of impact on the field? That remains to be seen, but he’ll be ready when the opportunity comes.