Mum remains the word.
Kentucky opened its third week of fall camp Monday, and the biggest question facing the Wildcats – Who will start at quarterback? – remains a mystery.
The UK staff has appeared to genuinely enjoy the cat-and-mouse game with local and state media thirsting for the answer, but is now indicating the chase may be coming to a conclusion this week.
“We’re working through that right now,” Stoops said after the first of two workouts on Monday. “We’ll keep that in-house here for a little bit. A starter has not been named, but we’re getting it in order.
“Respect that for a couple more days, and we’ll let you know what’s going on.”
Stoops did concede that the competition had been narrowed from four to two. It had previously included sophomores Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles as well as freshman Reese Phillips.
Smith and Whitlow appear to have emerged as the main options under center. They could be seen spending some additional time with offensive coordinator Neal Brown following Monday’s practice.
Smith started four games last year before suffering a severe ankle injury that cost him the rest of his season. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound California native played well in those games, completing 69 percent of his passes for 975 yards and eight touchdowns.
Whitlow, meanwhile, started seven games last season after Smith went down and progressively got better with time. He completed 77 percent of his passes against Samford and 64 percent against Tennessee in the final two games of the season. The 6-2, 220-pound Alabama product carried that momentum over into the spring, when it appeared he had emerged as the top candidate for the starting job thanks to his improved passing accuracy and dangerous running ability.
Regardless of who emerges as the starter, Brown has indicated that he expects both Smith and Whitlow to see action in the Wildcats' opener on Aug. 31 in Nashville against Western Kentucky.
Asked if he would expect the odd men out in the quarterback competition to redshirt -- most likely Towles and Phillips -- Stoops indicated that is the current plan.
The staff was in a much better mood Monday than when they left the field at Commonwealth Stadium following Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Good practice,” Stoops said. “Got a lot of good work in today. We were by no means perfect on either side of the ball, but got a lot of work done. Much better enthusiasm. A good, physical practice. Got some situation work, offensively, defensively, special teams – just a lot of good work. Long practice.”
Brown echoed those sentiments, saying “Offensively, we had probably one of our best practices overall. I thought we really competed on offense… Our kids really bounced back from not playing well the second half of that scrimmage Saturday.”
Asked what the film of Saturday’s disappointing scrimmage revealed, Stoops said: “A lot like I thought. The offense did some good things early, then leveled off. A critical drop or interception stalls everything. We can’t afford that right now.”
Cats Seek To Honor Fallen Recruit:
Deantre Turman, a Georgia football player who was set to begin his junior season at Creekside High School, died during a recent preseason scrimmage after suffering a broken vertebra in his neck while making what was described as an otherwise routine tackle.
A talented defensive back prospect, Turman had camped with UK in June and landed his first scholarship offer from the Wildcats.
“Just like everybody else, just very sad to hear that news. That’s tragic,” Stoops said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his dad.”
Stoops said the UK program is looking into options to honor Turman.
“We’re asking for some options on what we can do,” he said. “We’re not normally able to mail an offer letter to somebody that age, but we’d like to do that. Maybe his father would like to have as a momento. I think we were the first one to offer him (a scholarship). We’re looking into some of those things that we’re allowed to do and asking (the NCAA) for a waiver in that situation where we can just send (the letter) with some flowers and just let them know we’re thinking about them.”