Look at that picture. That was taken last year during fall camp as Kentucky prepared for what turned out to be one of the greatest seasons in program history. After a hard fought battle, junior college transfer Terry Wilson won the QB1 spot despite some very sluggish play during the middle of the season. The junior is now appears poised to make a big leap in his second year under offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw.
Fast forward a few nine months later and the two scholarship quarterbacks shown in the picture are to off that what they hope will be greener pastures. Gunnar Hoak is heading home to Columbus to play for the Ohio State team he cheered for growing up while Danny Clark decided to go the junior college route to continue his career. Now Kentucky is left in a bit of the bind.
Currently redshirt sophomore Walker Wood is the only scholarship quarterback remaining on the roster and the former mid-three star recruit has battled with injuries his entire career. Coming this summer will be a pair of three-star quarterbacks in Amani Gilmore and Nik Scalzo. However, there is just no way UK feels comfortable about their quarterback situation even with a starter set in stone and no quarterback controversy for us at KSR to cover this summer.
In today’s age of college football, chronic transfers are a thing all programs are having to deal with. From national title contenders to perennial cellar dwellars in the Group of Five, every school playing this sport is having to look at roster construction in a much different way. When a coach hears “transfer portal” most probably cringe, but in this case an enemy can truly be your friend at the same time.
On Monday, all signs point to UK landing their quarterback of the future in Lexington Catholic’s Beau Allen. But in 2019, UK has major depth questions at the position. Right now, the Wildcats have the guy in Terry Wilson but after that they will be leaning on three quarterbacks with a ton of inexperience. Walker Wood had dealt with injuries his entire college career, Nik Scalzo is off a major knee surgery, and Amani Gilmore has spent the spring playing baseball. Kentucky needs to test out the transfer market to see if there is an obvious fit for their quarterback siutation.
The transfer portal is up and running this offseason and seems to show no signs of slowing down. Right now there are a few players out there who could fill the void that Kentucky is currently looking to replace.
Troy’s starting quarterback was lost for the season last year and in stepped redshirt sophomore Sawyer Smith. The Pensacola, Florida native was a three-star recruit out of high school and after sitting for two years under Neal Brown, he finally got a shot to play in 2018.
The 6-foot-3 and 219-pound quarterback was a bit of dual-threat for the Trojans as he ran for 268 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry on non-sack carries. However, he did most of his damage with the deep ball. Smith hit multiple deep shots for the Trojans and had a career day in the Dollar General Bowl by tossing for 320 yards and four touchdowns. However, Smith has struggled with intermediate accuracy and if you took away the deep ball then you stopped the Trojans.
With Smith there is an obvious connection there. He played for former UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown and current UK inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall was on the staff for Smith’s first two years at Troy. Smith has two years of eligibility remaining but as of right now it is still not clear whether he will be a graduate transfer. If he is that would give UK a quarterback with two years of eligibility left, experience with the staff, and FBS starting experience. You couldn’t ask for much more.
In one of the biggest surprises of the offseason, Penn State dual-threat quarterback put his name in the transfer portal. After apparently being beat out by redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford in spring ball, Penn State’s often used wildcat quarterback is looking for a new home.
The former high three-star recruit spent his entire career as a backup to Trace McSorley and was successful in spot duty. Penn State used the 240-pound jumbo athlete in short yardage runs in addition to an H-back role. In a limited sample size, the Indianapolis native completed 58.5 percent of his passes in addition to being a dangerous runner. In quotes from his father, it seems like Stevens may want to go somewhere to start but he may be too late in the process to get somewhere enticing for that. Right now he has official visits schedule to Illinois, Miami (OH), and Mississippi State but there is time to schedule more.
There are plenty of other options available at the moment, but Kentucky is in a tricky spot. The Wildcats have found themselves in a pickle following two quarterback transfers in a matter of months. You could also make the argument that time is also on Kentucky’s side. There are only so many starting quarterback spots available and most of those holes have been filled. Time is ticking on these players that are currently sitting in the portal and they are going to have to land somewhere soon. Just maybe something will fall UK’s way here and they will find themselves a solid option for QB2.