Oct 6, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles (14) during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Commonwealth Stadium. Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Football: Handicapping the quarterback race for the Wildcats

Mark Stoops needs to see more out of his quarterbacks before naming a starter for the Kentucky Wildcats after a trio of Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker showed the second-year coach that plenty of work still remains before the season opener.

“We’re not ready at this point for me to release a starter,” Stoops said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference’s post-spring teleconference. “I feel like we’re improved at that position. I feel like we’re improved around them, as you saw. … I felt like Patrick did some really good things throughout the spring, played well in the spring game, but I was also pleased with the other two. Not quite ready to name a starter.”

Jalen Whitlow transferring to Eastern Illinois and Maxwell Smith out with another injury, the leader in the clubhouse is Towles who completed 11 of 15 passes for 126 yards, while Phillips was 10 of 17 for 74 yards and two touchdowns and looks to be the clear-cut candidate as the biggest challenger to Towles

Highly-touted recruit freshman recruit out of Hebron, Ky. and Connor high school, Barker had a 30-yard touchdown pass late, but completed only 6 of 18 passes for 44 yards and could be in line for a redshirt season.

Smith is an intriguing name to watch when he returns to practice in August after being sidelined with a shoulder surgery and has started when healthy in the past three years.

However, Towles has the edge by a nose over Phillips with Stoops taking the patient route with Barker so to not throw him to the fire that is SEC defenses and risk stunting his development, a very smart move as Kentucky needs him to be the face of the program for 2015 and beyond.

Tags: Drew Barker Kentucky Wildcats Maxwell Smith

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