The buzz on campus has been all about leaving- and no, not graduation. Around this time every year UK fans get spring fever- who is declaring for the NBA and who will be spending another year at THE University of Kentucky.
While we tend to expect some (most) of our basketball players to leave around this time of year, Mark Stoops blindsided us with the news that Jalen Whitlow will not be returning to the football team. Whitlow will finish his semester at UK and transfer after the spring.. This came as a bit of a surprise as just last week Stoops said that if they were playing a game that day Whitlow would be their guy. With Max Smith sidelined due to a shoulder surgery, this was a 4-man race for the starting spot.. Whitlow clearly had the most experience with Towles used sparingly his true freshman season and Phillips and Barker both have none. Though they all have the ability to run the ball and did so in high school, I would call Whitlow the only true dual threat quarterback of this group. Going into spring I thought 1.) Whitlow 2.) Phillips 3.) Barker 4.) Towles and I thought that Towles would be the one to transfer and Drew would red shirt. Boy was I wrong.
Whitlow played WR in high school and as I once predicted, he was asked to move out to receiver this season. Whitlow told the coaches his heart was at that QB spot and he didn’t want to switch positions. I truly believe he can play quarterback at this level, but he needs the right offense surrounding him and unfortunately an air-raid offense is not the right offense for a running quarterback. At Saturday’s scrimmage Barker and Towles took off and played very well which could have been the difference-maker for the staff. I still don’t think they pick the #1 guy until fall camp to keep a competitive spirit and so no one gets too discouraged but I think Barker and Towles are in the 1 and 2 spots going into the spring game. Towles does have 2 years and a little game experience on Barker, but Barker was recruited specifically for Brown’s offense. The game changer for Towles is he will be spending time with George Whitfield Jr.- the quarterback guru currently working with Johnny Manziel once school is out. My prediction for the first game, which is a long way away leaving plenty to change, is 1.) Towles 2.) Phillips 3.) Smith 4.) Barker (RS).
But back to basketball. I was on the money with my WCS prediction. I still think the twins and Poythress stay, Randle and Young declare and I really am 50/50 spilt on Dakari Johnson. I think these guys are waiting for Calipari to return from his book tour and to sit down with him and talk it out one last time. He returns to the bluegrass tomorrow to continue his book tour throughout the state, but Lexington is tomorrow, and he wraps up the media tour by appearing on the Colbert Report on April 23. So say Cal returns the 24th, the deadline to declare is the 27th so I’m almost expecting a 2012-esque press conference where everyone says their decision all at once on the 25th or 26th. Only time will tell, however.
Keep an eye out for more basketball news, I hear reports that Poythress is returning home this weekend to talk it over with his parents and he may not be the only one. As we near the spring football game, could we see more transfer news as these guys begin to see what next year’s depth chart is shaping up to look like? I wouldn’t be surprised. Football players leaving and basketball players staying- what a strange year of sports.
I want to wish all these players the best of luck regardless of what team and league they end up in, #BBN for life.
Tags: Aaron Harrison Alex Poythress Andrew Harrison Dakari Johnson Drew Barker Jalen Whitlow John Calipari Julius Randle Kentucky Wildcats Mark Stoops Max Smith Maxwell Smith NBA Draft Patrick Towles Reese Phillips Transfer UK Basketball UK Football