Guest post: One door closes and another one opens

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)


It’s funny how things work out. Not comically funny but ironic.

Sometimes I find myself anxious because of a day that is jam packed with appointments and I don’t know how I will fit them all in. Then, miraculously, someone calls to cancel a two-hour block of time and I am back on schedule.

Or I am Christmas shopping and needing a specific item for that special person and it just so happens that it’s sold out. Completely. So, worried and somewhat depressed, I pick up this year’s sweater and head to the checkout line when I see the item I needed buried under a stack of flannel shirts. I drop the sweater and viola, I am back in business. All the worry and anxiety have vanished.

That’s kind of how I felt about this year’s football team. Specifically our quarterback situation. Coming into the season it seemed like we were in an “iffy” situation. We had lost two quarterbacks that had decided to transfer and play at another school. Patrick Towles went to Boston College as a graduate transfer. Reese Phillips left to compete for the starting job at the University of Montana. In both cases the players were looking to better themselves through more playing time and a fresh start.

Unfortunately that left UK with a bare cupboard. We had one highly rated quarterback that appeared to have all the physical tools but little to no experience, another that was a true freshman with no experience and a walk-on quarterback with no game experience.

Not a good situation for a team playing in the Southeastern Conference.

But then, in walks Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw. A few weeks later in walks Stephen Johnson, a juco quarterback, who was slated to be the backup. Now after 12 weeks of football (and an unfortunate injury to Drew Barker) we have a 7-5 record, second place in the SEC East, a win over a highly rated UofL team on the road and a bowl game in the future.

Who would have dreamed after seeing that two of our three quarterbacks were leaving the program after last season that an anxiety filled situation would have paved the way for a winning season and all that goes along with it. No offense to Patrick or Reese but by them leaving the program it opened the door for Stephen Johnson to walk in and become the quarterback the program desperately needed. I truly believe if they had both stayed Stephen Johnson would not be on the UK roster today.

So we all owe a huge thank you to Patrick and Reese for taking their talents elsewhere and allowing Stephen Johnson to walk through that door into the starting lineup. Also we should send out a note of congratulations to Patrick Towles for getting Boston College to a bowl game this year after suffering through a difficult season last year; good luck to Reese Phillips and the Montana Grizzlies next season; “get well soon” wishes to Drew Barker and most important of all …. Welcome Home, Stephen Johnson!


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  1. Truly a story book ending to a season that started off a disaster. The cherry on top will be UK winning big in the TaxSlayer bowl, or Music City bowl, and an 8-5 finish. Stephen Johnson has been the difference in many ways. He should only get better. UK football has something to crow about now.

    1. Feels great, doesn’t it LP? I think this may be one of the most beloved teams this school has fielded in 40 years. Finish 2nd in the east and we only lose a few starters to graduation? WOW. This success story is epic. Glad to have you back in the canoe.

      1. Norman it is great to see. A great early Christmas present wrapped up for all UK football crazies. Something we have all wanted for so long. Good to be back on board too my friend. The future looks bright, with so much youth and talent coming back, with a proven QB under center. The QB position is something UK has lacked for so long. Johnson got it done and in a big way. I am anxious to see the next recruiting class also.

  2. Very nice read, Thanks!!!

    It is “funny” how things tend to work out in the end.

    “Ain’t Life Funny” is a song by an obscure writer, Robert Hutto. The focus of the song is slightly different than how things work out for a sports team, but the message is right on.


    Robert Hutto: Ain’t Life Funny for those who enjoy original music that you will never hear on commercial radio.

  4. Great article Keith. Stoops has built a program designed for the long haul, recruiting young men of character with a blue collar work ethic. Players who believe in personal glory taking a back seat to “team first”. A branding to be proud of.
    While I admit to wavering at the end of September (in reality, I flinched pretty badly… sorry Coach), I always believed we had the right man for the job. This is an incredible “feel good story”. This team has exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own and that is the perfect recipe for a winning program.

    So happy for these young men and absolutely ecstatic knowing that the rebuild was completed in time for the seniors to participate in reaping the rewards. KY football has turned the corner and the future is bright.

    This old fan has already received his Christmas present. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    GO CATS !!!!!!!!

  5. Stoops won my loyalty when his team beat the Cards in their house as a 28 point underdog. That has to go down as the win that sealed his future at Kentucky.

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