A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK QB race heats up as Wilson, Hoak battling for starting job

Transfer Terry Wilson smiles during a photo shoot during the team’s Media Day last week at Kroger Field. Wilson is battling to become the team’s starting signal caller. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops may play two quarterbacks this season. He may stick to one signal caller depending on who emerges as the top quarterback during fall workouts.

Five days into camp, the question as to who will be the Wildcats’ starting quarterback remains up in the air. Kentucky offfensive coordinator Eddie Gran offered no insights as to who is leading the race for the starting job. It remains a close call.

“They’re both battling,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said following practice Tuesday. “The other two are battling, too.”

Hoak worked his way into the competition last spring even though junior college transfer Terry Wilson was considered the heavy favorite to replace graduate Stephen Johnson, who led the Wildcats to consecutive bowl appearance during the past two seasons. Hoak is looking to continue that momentum this fall.

“My mindset right now coming is to compete, obviously, and go every play like it’s your last,” said Hoak, a 6-foot-4, 206-pound product of Dublin, Ohio, who came to UK in 2016 as one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation. “I just want to go out and have fun with these guys, see what happens.”

Hoak isn’t anxious and simply plans to be himself during the competition.

“Not really pressure,” he said. “It’s just coming out here doing what you’re supposed to do and trying to have fun with it. Just compete.”

Wilson is taking a day-by-day approach to the competition and isn’t putting too much pressure on himself and added that Hoak is taking the same approach.

“We’re taking it day by day,” Wilson said. “We can’t dwell on the bad plays, they’e going to happen. I’ve only been here for about six or seven months, so I feel like as much as I get in the film room, work and stuff like that, all I have to do is to rely on my (game). That’s the thing about football, you can overthink.

“We have a lot of playmakers on the field,” Wilson added. “If you are a baller, you’re a baller.”

Prior to the first practice following Media Day festivities last Friday, Wilson was anxious to get started. The Wildcats have spent the first five days of workouts finalizing the inner details of the offense. An experienced offensive line has proven to be effective and made things easier on both players.

“Whatever we can do to win,” he said. “I’m ready to just get on it and just go. We’ve been in the weight room for 12 to 14 weeks. We’re ready to get after it and showcase what we can do.”

Since arriving on campus, Wilson said his biggest adjustment has been “learning the offense” and getting used to his new teammates.

“(I’ve been) getting comfortable and building relationships with the guys,” he said. “That has been the biggest thing really. “

Although known as more of a rusher in the pocket, Wilson also has a knack for throwing the football and isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield.

“The guys know I can throw the ball around,” he said. “It comes along with the game. If the pocket collapses on me, I’m going to take off running and try to get the first down. That’s just a big part of my game. That’s what I rely on, especially in the pocket.”

Getting more comfortable in the pocket, coupled with Gran simplifying the offense has helped Wilson make aa quicker adjustment.

“Him doing that (simplifying) the offense has helped me a lot,” he said.

Every little bit helps, especially when following the precedent set by Johnson.

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

Related Posts

Leave a Comment