Kentucky Wildcats Football Position Preview: Quarterback

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September 2, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Maxwell Smith (11) throws a pass during the second half of play agains the the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John

#11 Maxwell Smith

Smith got off to a great start at UK in what was turning into a disastrous 2011 season. He took over for the injured Morgan Newton in the middle of the year and won his first collegiate start, leading UK to a 30-10 come-from-behind win over Ole Miss. In his first start, he completed 19 of 36 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, which set a school record for most passing yards by a true freshman

He finished his first season in blue completing 84-of-153 passes for 819 yards and four TDs.

Smith was the clear-cut #1 QB by the time the 2012 season began, and his play only solidified that belief. Smith started in all four games he played while completing 103 of 150 passes (68.7 percent) for 975 yards and eight touchdowns. Most of that was unfortunately in just three games, as Smith sustained an ankle injury on the first series against South Carolina (Game 5) and missed the remainder of the season.

In the three full games he did play in, he averaged 322 yards while looking like an All-SEC performer and the QB of the future for UK. His best game came in UK’s biggest win of the season when they hammered Kent State (who went 11-3 in ’12) as he completed 30 of 39 for a career-best 354 yards and four TDs. The next week, he completed a career-high 37 passes in an overtime loss vs. WKU. During that game, he suffered a shoulder injury that would cause him to miss the following week vs Florida. He returned the following week vs. USC, only to see his season end on the very first series of the game.

The Cats enter the summer with a three-headed quarterback competition on their hands, but it will likely come down to Smith or Jalen Whitlow, as they both have the most experience and looked good in spring ball.

Smith was 11 of 18 passing with 108 yards and a 47-yard touchdown pass. he and Whitlow figure to be neck-and-neck for the QB race all the way up until the final weeks of preparation for Western Kentucky.

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