Not long ago, I wrote about the possibility of Kentucky pulling the redshirt off of sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles following Jalen Whitlow’s injury. The logic at the time was that the staff needs to win games now to keep this team and recruiting class together. Additionally, with highly-touted Drew Barker coming in January, it was time to find out what Towles has as a quarterback before the Barker hype machine gets revved up any more than it is. The truth is that Neal Brown hand-picked Barker and he will be given every opportunity to take the starting job if no one else shows out during the season.
The coaches revealed last week that they did, indeed, have a contingency plan for someone to play should Maxwell Smith get injured and Jalen Whitlow not be able to go. Which really only makes sense, somebody has to take snaps back there. Except I may have been wrong about who was next in line. Following the Mississippi State loss in which poor quarterback play quite possibly cost Kentucky the game, it has been rumored that true freshman Reese Phillips will get some first team reps this week in advance of Alabama State.
Phillips was the darling of the spring game, turning in a very efficient performance against mostly backup players. But he did display good decision-making skills and accuracy with his throws. Both attributes have been lacking from that position this season. While it isn’t enviable to throw a true freshman to the wolves of the SEC, Phillips is in roughly the position as Towles. He would be a redshirt senior in 2017 and it is very hard to believe that he would be starting over Drew Barker or whichever quarterback Kentucky signs in the 2015 class (expected to be highly-rated, regardless). If Phillips is going to have a real shot at the job, there may not be a better time than now to show the coaches what he’s got.
The matchup with Alabama State is one that could prove valuable to a player seeing his first college game action and the long week of practice following a Thursday game would add a little extra preparation. The only way it should be considered is if Phillips will get extensive playing time the rest of the year. He only has five games and Jalen Whitlow will be healthy again at some point. It may seem too late to try him out but Mark Stoops realizes that he needs to win games, as many as possible in 2013. That’s what he is paid to do and if Reese Phillips playing the rest of the year gives the Cats a better chance to win, then it’s the right decision for the team.