Now that spring season is over for Kentucky, we take a look at the positive and negative areas.
Dominique Yates, Courier Journal, Louisville Courier Journal
LEXINGTON – Kentucky has apparently found its replacement for backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak.
Just more than two weeks after Hoak, the Wildcats’ No. 2 quarterback last season, announced he was transferring to Ohio State, Mark Stoops and company have added their own graduate transfer in the form of former Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith, who announced on Twitter Monday morning he would spend his final two seasons of eligibility at UK.
Smith will be eligible to play immediately for Kentucky in the fall.
As a redshirt sophomore, Smith completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions in 13 games for Troy while starting the final seven games of the season. He was coached by former UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who left Troy for the West Virginia head coaching job in January.
A Cantonment, Florida native, Smith also ran 191 yards and one touchdown on 74 carries. He was rated as a three-star recruit out of high school.
Kentucky returns 2018 starter Terry Wilson to campus but was left with just one other scholarship quarterback on its spring roster after Hoak’s transfer. With Smith in the fold, sophomore Walker Wood would likely return to No. 3 on the depth chart as he works his way back from shoulder and knee injuries.
UK will add 2019 quarterback signees Nik Scalzo and Amani Gilmore to the roster this summer. Now both freshmen will be afforded the luxury of a redshirt season to develop with Smith and Wood manning the backup positions to Wilson.
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Should Wilson struggle or be injured, Smith boasts a wealth of experience that could help Kentucky’s offense remain afloat even without its projected starter.
Smith played in 19 games across three seasons at Troy, including all 13 in 2018. He led the Trojans to five wins in their final six games after replacing injured starter Kaleb Barker. In Troy’s Dollar General Bowl win over Buffalo, Smith completed 31 of 44 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
This spring, Smith battled with Barker and three other quarterbacks for the Troy starting job under new head coach Chip Lindsey. According to a report in the Dothan Eagle, Lindsey praised Smith for his improvements in the intermediate throws, something that had held Smith back in his previous competition with Barker despite his ability to make plays with his legs and throw an accurate deep ball.
Following the offseason transfers of Hoak and last season’s No. 3 quarterback Danny Clark, experience appeared to be an issue in the Kentucky quarterback room, but now the 2019 roster will include two juniors with starting experience, a sophomore entering his third year in the offensive system and two freshmen. Kentucky recently received a commitment from four-star Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen for its 2020 recruiting class, securing the position for the foreseeable future.
Jon Hale: email@example.com; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jonh.