The quarterback competition with the Kentucky Wildcats was reduced by one as Jalen Whitlow is transferring after starting 15 games over the past two seasons, including eight last season, and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
“I appreciate the University of Kentucky and what the coaching staff and administration have done for me,” Whitlow said. “I also thank the community and the fan support I have received here. I wish the coaches and my teammates the best of luck.”
Whitlow brought a dual-threat element to the position last season finishing with 1,033 yards passing on 61.6 percent passing with five touchdowns and five interceptions. He also added 457 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground, including running for 101 in the team’s win against Alabama State.
With Whitlow gone it is expected Maxwell Smith will be the team’s starter after being in and out of the lineup due to a myriad of injuries during his career in Lexington. He is recovering from shoulder surgery and is out for the spring, but he has starting experience and has shown flashes of being a quality signal-caller.
Smith passed for 1,276 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception while appearing in nine games. In 2012, Smith averaged more than 300 yards per game in the team’s first three games with eight touchdowns before an ankle injury ended his season in Week five. He also missed the Florida game with a separated shoulder.
Sophomore Patrick Towles, who appeared in five games last season will compete with Smith for the starting job along with redshirt freshman Reese Phillips and true freshman Drew Barker, one of the lynchpin’s in Mark Stoops’ recruiting class this year.
Barker, a Connor high school product in Hebron, Ky., was a four-star recruit and the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports Composite Rankings last season when he was the top recruit in the state of Kentucky.
At 6-4, 210-pounds Barker represents the future of the quarterback position, but the present looks like it’ll be Smith’s job to lose after the transfer of Whitlow.