Recently rumors began that the future of Kentucky football Patrick Towles was unhappy with his lack of playing time and was considering a transfer. This was backed up when Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier Journal wrote an interview with Terry Towles, Patrick’s father, confirming that the Towles’ were unhappy with the current situation. That Coach Phillips had promised a chance to start but had given Patrick very little chance to compete. Quickly after his father’s interview, Patrick tweeted that Kentucky was the only team he wanted to play football for.
So what is going on? It’s easy to believe that Patrick is unhappy with his lack of playing time, especially after the Florida game. But is he really considering a transfer? Or is this a case of a parent getting too involved? It’s hard to say, despite the tweet, because that could have just been damage control. On the other hand, people around Northern Kentucky have said that the father may have created this controversy on his own.
Since there is no way to find out who started what, all we can do is speculate on how to handle the problem. I think (and most football writers agree) that Towles is a tremendously talented player who will be one of the best quarterbacks in UK history by the time he is finished. That said, Maxwell Smith likely gives Kentucky the best chances at winning games in 2012. Despite the results, the coaching staff is trying to win games more than anything.
Also I agree with most media guys in saying that Towles should redshirt this year, because it is the best thing for his future and UK’s. Coming from a shotgun-based high school offense, it has been reported that Patrick needed some time to develop his footwork. The Kentucky playbook is difficult to grasp quickly, it would be hard for Towles to learn the entire offense without the benefit of spring practice and he was unfortunately unable to graduate early to the rules of his school district. He likely would have struggled.
There are several reasons to redshirt quarterbacks if possible, in addition to the challenges noted above. Almost unanimously a redshirt senior quarterback will contribute more and be more productive than a true freshman. Often the freshman season is practically wasted. Sometimes a bad freshman season can “ruin” a quarterback, a position that requires loads of confidence can be impossible when that confidence is broken. It would be a shame to see Patrick come out and struggle mightily, then doubt himself and never reach his vast potential. (see Newton, Morgan)
As you can see, I am of the opinion that redshirting Towles this year and letting him compete to start in the spring is the best course of action for all parties. I hope Patrick doesn’t transfer, as it would be foolish to do so. Kentucky may well have a new head football coach in 2013, often new coaches allow players to earn their spot on the new depth chart. If he were to transfer over playing time, he would have to sit out next year under NCAA transfer guidelines and wouldn’t be able to compete for a job until 2014 at the earliest. And there is obviously no guarantee he would win the job wherever he went. So at best he would be starting one year earlier than his worst case scenario at UK. I still think Jalen Whitlow changes positions down the road and is only playing this year because his running abilities somewhat make up for a lack familiarity with the playbook. I’ll say again that I hope Patrick stays in Lexington for his entire career, UK fans love a homegrown talent.