A New System And New Man Under Center
Last time out here at Last Word On College Football we gave you an overview of Kentucky spring football. Now, over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to dive deeper looking at specific positions. In the first installment it’s straight to the one getting the most attention. Over the last three years the Kentucky Wildcats have headed into the season knowing who their quarterback was. However with Terry Wilson announcing he was transferring to play one more year there’s an honest to goodness quarterback competition in 2021. Not only will the Cats have a new man under center but someone new calling the plays. Former L.A Rams assistant quarterback coach Liam Coen is the new offensive coordinator. Let’s look at all five candidates with our 2021 Kentucky Spring Preview: Quarterbacks.
A Two Horse Race
In the state of Kentucky thoroughbred racing is huge. That analogy can be used in describing the quarterback race. As UK goes through spring practice Beau Allen and Joey Gatewood are battling down the stretch for the starting job.
A Top 50 prospect coming out of high school Gatewood originally committed to Auburn. However after losing the starting job to Bo Nix Gatewood hit the transfer portal ending up at Kentucky. Appearing in six games in 2020 the sophomore completed 17 of 35 passes for 109 yards and one interception. In addition gained 62 yards on the ground.
As a freshman a season ago Allen appeared in two games, mostly in a relief role. In limited time he completed three of seven passes for 40 yards. All of the completions came in the Cats 38-35 win over Vanderbilt. The highly touted local product out of Lexington Catholic High School won the Paul Hornung Award as the best player in Kentucky in 2019.
While Allen and Gatewood are the perceived leaders for the quarterback job there’s more than just those two vying for the job. As we continue with our 2021 Kentucky Spring Preview: Quarterbacks, let’s look at two more players hoping to impress the coaching staff this spring.
In addition to Allen and Gatewood there are two other players hoping to impress the coaching staff this spring. Sophomore Nik Scalzo rose to fame after appearing in season three of Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond The Lights” alongside Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. His time at Kentucky has been hampered by injury. After suffering an inury during his senior year of high school Scalzo tore his ACL in 2019 and did not see game action last year. He originally entered the transfer portal however ultimately decided to stay in Lexington.
Kentucky’s final quarterback currently in camp is freshman Kaiya Sheron. The early enrollee out of Somerset High School led his team to a state title in 2019. Sheron chose the Cats over Marshall and West Virginia. In addition he drew interest from Louisville and Purdue. While he remains the longest shot on the board as an early enrollee he has a chance to make a strong first impression.
We finish up our 2021 Kentucky Spring Preview: Quarterbacks with a look at the wild card in the battle.
Dark Horse Candidate
Once Kentucky gets through the Spring, the quarterback competition is likely to be wide open again in the fall. Following a two year stint at Penn State Will Levis announced he was leaving Happy Valley and transferring. Levis announced he was Lexington bound on February 5th.
— Will Levis (@will_levis) February 5, 2021
During his two years at Penn State Levis appeared in 14 games completing 60% of his passes for 644 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, he ran for 473 yards and six scores. Levis had his best game in a 30-23 loss to Nebraska rushing for 61 yards and throwing for 219. Much like Gatewood he’s a dual threat quarterback who keeps defenses honest with the run and pass.
Wait Until September
Under former offensive coordinator Eddie Gran quarterbacks like Gatewood and Levis would have an edge over Allen as he liked the dual threat players. However Coen’s pro-style attack may suit Allen better. Unfortunately for the BBN we probably won’t know until close to the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe on September 4th. In addition after playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun the quarterbacks are now going back under center in Coen’s offense. When asked if it was a big difference Gatewood had a very funny answer.
I'm still laughing at Joey Gatewood's answer to @RoushKSR's question about taking snaps under center.
— Curtis Burch (@curtisburch) March 22, 2021
For a second straight year Kentucky won’t have a Spring game so fans won’t get the see the guys in action. Kroger Field is being used as a COVID testing and vaccination site and they don’t want to interrupt that. With practices being closed to the media and public fans have to rely on what the coaches and players tell us about what’s going on.
Thanks for checking out our 2021 Kentucky Spring Preview: Quarterbacks here at Last Word On College Football. Next time out we’ll look a position where there are no questions, running back. In addition we’ll look at the wide receiver group whose undergone a major overhaul since January. As if that wasn’t enough we’ll recap pro day on Wednesday.