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Stoops names Wilson UK’s starting quarterback ahead of season opener against Central Michigan

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops has been loyal to his starting quarterbacks during his tenure at Kentucky.

That won’t change going into his sixth season at the helm after junior college transfer Terry Wilson beat out Gunnar Hoak for the starting job and will be the starter in the Wildcats’ season-opener against Central Michigan Saturday.

“Both guys earned the opportunity to play, but at some point that’s no a possibility,” he said. “I’ve been very loyal to the starting quarterbacks here. They have not been on a short leash. … I want to be loyal to the starting quarterback and give him every opportunity and not have them looking over their shoulder as well.”

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops named Terry Wilson the starting quarterback ahead of the season-opener against Central Michigan Saturday. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

Prior to fall workouts, Stoops hinted at the possibility to playing both quarterbacks, especially in the first game of the season, but Wilson won over the coaching staff with his decision-making, targets, accuracy, yards and leadership abilities he displayed since fall workouts began. Stoops complimented Hoak and the other quarterbacks for producing a competitive spirit during the past four weeks.

“It’s been an ongoing battle,” Stoops said. “They put up a great fight and done a lot of things in a lot of ways. They’ve done things to win the job and of all the things we look at, we decided on Terry. We’re very excited about Terry, but I have a lot of confidence in the other guys as well.”

Missing Young

For the second straight season, the Wildcats lost their starting offensive left tackle prior to a season-ending injury prior to the season opener. Cole Mosier went down with a season-ending injury a year ago and junior Landon Young suffered a left knee injury Friday.

“I was very disappointed for Landon,” Stoops said. “It was a non-contact injury. He was working with the (offensive) linemen … basic things. He got hit awkwardly and I’m disappointed for Landon and our football team.”

Stoops said Naasir Watkins and E.J. Price will split time at left tackle and added it will be hard to replace Young’s experience. Neither has played a snap in a collegiate contest. Price is a transfer from Southern California.

“It’s hard to take away that experience and how hard he has worked,” he said. “What a great leader he is. He’s going to be missed. Just like last year, it hurts your overall depth.”

Paschal, Schlarman update

Stoops said sophomore linebacker Josh Paschal and offensive line coach John Schlarman are undergoing cancer treatments. Paschal was diagnosed with melanoma prior to training camp and Schlarman has been dealing with an undisclosed illness but is undergoing chemotherapy.

Stoops said Paschal is having a meeting this week with his treatment team and will be “out indefinitely.” As for Schlarman, Stoops said he’s “not missed a beat” during fall workouts and has “gone through two rounds of chemotherapy.”

“He’s handling things with a very strong attitude and a very strong mindset,” he said. “He’s getting the very best treatment he can. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and he’s battling a very serious illness. … He’s been a warrior with this.”

Game tracker: Central Michigan at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: ESPNU, 98.1 FM WBUL.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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