Stoops on QB: ‘Not quite ready to name a starter’

It sounds like Kentucky’s quarterback battle is going to go into fall camp.

On the post-spring practice Southeastern Conference call, Mark Stoops sounded like a coach still waiting for a starter to emerge between Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.

“Not quite ready to name a starter,” he said on Wednesday. “We feel very good about where we’re at, we feel like we’re improving at that position.”

Stoops said he liked some things that Towles, who ran out with the first-team unit on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, did in the spring game, but also was pleased with the play of Phillips and Barker.

When asked specifically about him, the UK coach also seemed quite high on Phillips and what he had shown in the spring and said the red-shirt freshman is “very much in the hunt.”

“Reese is a guy that the coaches and our players have a lot of confidence in,” Stoops said. “That’s a great compliment. He’s a guy that we feel is always very steady.

At Saturday’s Blue-White Spring Game going back and working with the Blue Team (starters) and the White Team (reserves), Towles completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 126 yards and an interception at the line by defensive end Za’Darius Smith.

Phillips went 10-for-17 for 74 yards and two touchdowns and Barker, an early enrollee, completed seven of his 19 attempts for 74 yards and had a pretty 30-yard touchdown strike to Demarco Robinson.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he didn’t think Saturday’s scrimmage was a great day for any of his quarterbacks and said he thought their nerves might have gotten the best of them early.

While the scrimmage carries significant weight, there were other things to consider, he said.

“We’ve been keeping track of everything through the spring, from every drill we’ve done, completions, how we’ve charted drives, productivity, all those things,” he said. “So we’ll sit down and visit with those guys later in the week.”

Stoops was quite complimentary of the support around the quarterbacks in the spring game, including the running back quartet of Jojo Kemp, Braylon Heard, Josh Clemons and Mikel Horton.

“We have some guys with a little bit more pop that can make people miss in our run game and improving at the receiver position as well, which is obviously going to make the quarterbacks look a little bit better,” he said.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
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2 Responses to Stoops on QB: ‘Not quite ready to name a starter’

  1. Tom says:

    Thowing against Kentucky’s defense, who have yet heard mentioned, should make all three look like all americans. Every year we hear the same, outstanding QBs, all SEC quality. Can’t decide. When is the last year we went into the summer with a QB selected?

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