By LARRY VAUGHT
Terry Towles got a text from his son, Kentucky sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles telling him that his grandfather would be “partying in heaven” Monday.
Terry Towles knew that could mean only one thing — Patrick Towles was going to be UK’s starting quarterback. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops confirmed that on Twitter a few hours later and then discussed with the media after an open practice ended why Towles, a former Kentucky Mr. Football from Highlands, had won the job over Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.
Terry Towles said his son was “on cloud nine” Monday after winning the job he could not as a true freshman in 2012 under Joker Phillips or in 2013 in Stoops’ first season when he ended up eing redshirted. Few gave Towles a chance to win the job going into spring practice even though he had spent extra time working on his own to improve his fundamentals and play.
Patrick Towles had an impressive spring, played better than any other quarterback in the spring game and then went to Caliifornia for extra work again during the summer break.
“I am extremely proud of him, but I am more proud of just his endurance and his commitment to get better,” Terry Towles said. “I told you a long time ago my proudest sports moment was that he did not give up and was out there on the scout team putting forth effort last year and never once got his head down. I am sure there were some down moments for him, but he never projected that when he was out there practicing. They say sports reveals character and that is a prime example. He knew he had work to do and he did it.”
Patrick Towles said earlier this month that his parents had been a “huge help” to him during his time at UK. He came to Kentucky after leading Highlands to three straight state championships and was perhaps Phillips’ marquee recruit.
“The parents are the people who are going to be reassuring no matter what is going on. If you are really high, they are going to bring you down a level and if you are really low, they are going to bring you back up. I had some highs and lows. My dad, mom (Amy) and my whole family, including my sister, were great about staying on me and just making sure I was alright.”
What was their best advice?
“Just keep a level head. Playing in the SEC, there is going to be a lot of great and lot not so great. They were really helpful,” he said. “I talk to my parents every day. Sometimes I don’t want to talk to them every day, but it nice them being around and just being reassuring. They never doubted me.”
Yet Terry Towles also told his son that if he didn’t win the starting job, he should not look back with any regrets.
“This (being named No. 1) was icing on cake but if it had not happened it was just never meant to be. If he had cut corners and not put in the work, he could second guess. He did all he could do. That’s why he could not have any regrets no matter how it turned out,” Terry Towles said.
Patrick Towles faced some adversity at Highlands his freshman year when he was a safety, not quarterback.
“He wanted to play quarterback. I would notice him always being the first guy to warm up the starting quarterback,” Towles said. “He’s just a team guy and very mature kid when it comes to things like that. The Kentucky thing was much tougher. He had a lot of notoriety coming in and some saw him as a bust, but he kept plugging and it worked out. But he always been a team player and was here for the first two years.
“When he won his second state championship (at Highlands), he came back to play basketball and if he was not on court he would be the one over getting guys drinks. That resonates about what a great kid is. Truly, he is a genuine good person.”
Terry Towles believes his son can relax “and just play” now that he’s been named the starter for the opening game Aug. 30 against UT-Martin.
“He will still be held accountable when he plays, but you can see a lot more bounce in his step after getting the news (about starting) and now there is not an extra worry,” Terry Towles said. “The guys competing against him were putting forth a ton of effort as well and are great competitors. We really had no idea how this would work out. But God forbid something would happen to Patrick (injury wise), Kentucky would still be in good hands with whoever they bring in next. They are great players.”
Terry Towles and his wife will have a shorter commute to watch UK home games their son will be starting. They recently moved to Paris after Amy Towles got a new job.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with the quarterback situation. It was just a unique job opportunity for my wife,” Terry Towles said. “Certainly it will be nice just to shoot down Paris Pike in 10 to 15 minutes and be at UK. It’s a nice perk of now being closer to Lexington, but we had no idea how the quarterback thing would shake out when she took this job.”