Left to Right: Smith, Towles, Whitlow, Newton, Witthuhn
Returning Players: Maxwell Smith (So.), Morgan Newton (Sr.)
Newcomers: Patrick Towles (Fr., KY) Jalen Whitlow (Fr., AL) Jeff Witthuhn (Fr., KY)
Projected starter: Smith or Newton
2012 Outlook: Improved
Starter: Many know of the ongoing battle between Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith for the starting quarterback position. Regardless of who wins the job, fans can reasonably expect more production from the quarterback this season. Newton knows the offense very well and has a dozen SEC games worth of starting experience. Smith flashed some good things filling in for Newton last year and has had an entire offseason to learn the offense. He was hampered by his lack of knowledge in 2011. It’s entirely possible that Kentucky could elect to move forward with a two-QB system for this season. The freshmen are getting a shot but their elders are clearly ahead.
Maxwell Smith: The sophomore stepped in for Newton when he was injured last season and excited fans with his potential. He showed accuracy and a quick release, but also displayed poor pocket presence and a fluttering deep ball. Smith likely has a leg up in the QB battle, as he is the fan favorite and is presumably healthy. Hopefully he added some weight in the offseason to avoid injury.
Morgan Newton: Newton was a freshman phenom who stepped in for an injured Mike Hartline a few years back and many fans grumbled for him to start in 2010. When his chance came in 2011 Newton started poor and lost confidence. Due to line woes, he was hit early and often and when he did manage to get a pass off it was often dropped. Newton is more mobile than Smith, and is better running at top speed than short bursts.
Patrick Towles: Towles is the highly-touted prospects who won nearly every award possible as a senior. A dual-threat quarterback who has astonishing passing stats and accuracy, Towles is the future of Kentucky football. It appears that he will redshirt this season, which will be best for his development and give him a real chance to win the starting gig in 2013.
Jalen Whitlow: Whitlow was a late addition to the 2012 class and was considered an athlete. Over the summer reports started leaking out that Whitlow was a better passer than advertised. It appears that the staff will give him a full opportunity to stick at quarterback, however, he is unlikely to win the starting job. Whitlow does appear perfectly suited to run the Wildcat offense though. He certainly has the athleticism to be a dangerous runner and any passing he brings to the Wildcat is a bonus.
Jeff Witthuhn: Witthuhn is a big-bodied, battering ram of a quarterback from Bowling Green. A walk-on, Witthuhn has no chance of winning the starters job. He may well switch positions , having played linebacker, tight end and fullback in high school. Hopefully he could one day be used similarly to Oklahoma’s Blake Bell.