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UK’s Jalen Whitlow not your typical potential starting quarterback

Jalen Whitlow picks up yardage with his legs in Saturday's Blue-White game. (Victoria Graff photo)

Jalen Whitlow drops back to pass in Saturday’s Blue-White game. (Victoria Graff photo)

By ASHLEY SCOBY

Jalen Whitlow is not your average Joe.

At least that’s what he – and fans – have come to believe after spring practice concluded with the Blue-White scrimmage Saturday. Whitlow completed 17 of 28 passes for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns to show the coaching staff and fans that he is right in the thick of the three-man quarterback race.

After a freshman campaign in which he started seven games and contributed 1,007 yards and 6 touchdowns (passing and rushing), Whitlow has a gained a quiet self-confidence.

“You’ve got to carry yourself with confidence,” he said. “Players carry themselves with confidence. You would never see Peyton Manning carrying himself like a regular Joe.”

The biggest difference between last season and the beginning of spring practice for Whitlow has been “maturity.” Nearing the completion of his second semester of college, he thinks he has grown up a lot, which has, in turn, helped him on the football field.

“Last fall I was an 18-year-old pretty much trying to grasp everything,” Whitlow said. “Everything’s moving so fast but now the college life is not a big thing anymore. Just coming in here and just focusing on football and school and just being grounded is the biggest thing.”

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown thought Whitlow has used his freshman year experience to turn into the solid quarterback that has emerged during the spring.

“I think he’s learning how to prepare,” Brown said. “Getting thrown to the fire, it does one of two things for you. It really damages you or you find out what it takes and you come back stronger than ever and I think that’s what happened.”

All of that maturity and experience helped Whitlow turn in a solid spring game performance, especially compared to the other quarterbacks. Max Smith, the original starter last season before going down with an injury, was 11-18 for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Whitlow’s classmate Patrick Towles went 6-14 for 65 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Whitlow also rushed for 49 yards Saturday, showing that his speed and ability to get out of the pocket will also be factors in the quarterback race.

Running, however, isn’t something Whitlow particularly wants to do.

“I don’t like running,” he said. “I like passing plays. I want to throw the ball.”

Brown said Whitlow has “come along” as a passer so far in the spring, but that his athleticism is something the coaches will look at, if Whitlow were to be named the starter.

“At Troy…when we had a kid that was athletic, we ran the ball with the quarterback,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out who we are. What are our pieces to the puzzle? And then we’ll form a package around them.”

Forming that package is something that might be far away, but head coach Mark Stoops knows what Whitlow could potentially bring to the table.

“Jalen did a nice job,” he said. “He has that dimension to run the football and pull it down when something’s not there and create… I was impressed with the way Jalen played.”

Even if Whitlow is not named the starter come fall camp, UK knows it doesn’t just have an average Joe athlete wearing number 13.

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13 comments

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  1. RJ

    Every kid wants to play QB. IMO I think Jalen should at least consider taking the Randell Cobb route to the NFL. It’s not good enough to be “good” passer to make it to the next level and play. It’s tempting but not realistic. You have to be a superior passer. Yes he can certainly help KY at QB, but what next? College will be his last chance to shape his future.

    1. Tcat

      Not trying to sound rude at all but some of the best present day QB’s in the NFL are athletic. Nah I’m not talking Brady and Manning those types are rare and special, I’m talking Rogers, Keapernick, the kid at the Seahawks, RG3, Newton etc…

      I know all those guys have tremendous arm talent but so does this kid in case you may not be as lucky as some of us who got to watch him in the spring. I agree that he COULD be better off at WR but lets see how this true Soph develops before we say he’s a WR…

      He honestly has better fundamentals and throwing motion than Cobb had. Cobb was special but so is this kid he just hasn’t had much around him or time to showcase his ability. It’s coming though, I just can’t believe Joker and Randy both went on record saying Max would probably win the job over PT and Jalen. All three have special tools, but honestly in the Spread you want a athletic kid, not just a typical Pro Style QB. 75+% of the best College Spread Teams have athletic QB’s that can stretch the defense with the Zone Read and create…

  2. AndyP

    Horrible advice RJ.

    Pitino used to say live in the precious present. Whitlow could do wonders in the Neil Brown offense. Anyone who doubts how a duel-threat QB can thrive in a spread offense need look no further than Texas A&M and Johnny Manzel.

    Mummie said QBs are born to transfer. I’ll be surprised if Patrick Towles doesn’t look for another school when the semester ends. It looks like he is probably 4th on the depth chart at this point.

  3. Larry Pup

    I am predicting right now that Whitlow will be the starter against WKU in Sept. I think it is his to lose. My advice to him is work his tail off this summer.

    1. UKFMLY

      Ditto

  4. whit Sr

    as a father who is hours away (jalens father). i read the blogs sometimes to help keep up with whats going on in lexington..i hear some good thing and things not so good but what i saw saturday night i can say that we are excited to be a part of the wildcat nation. as for those positive comments that i read our family really thank you from the bottom of our hearts

    thanks
    W. Whitlow

    1. larryvaught

      Thanks Mr. Whitlow, got more with your son coming later today as well

  5. Ashley Scoby

    At the practice that was open to the media 2 weeks ago and at the spring game, I think Whitlow was the better QB. His passing has improved greatly since last season I think. Regardless of where he ends up, he is going to be a FUN player to watch develop throughout the years. It’s just that the chances of that being at QB have increased a lot after his performance this spring.

  6. Thorsten

    Double ditto. All Whitlow does is get the job done . His running ability makes him superior. He came in last year as odd man out. 15 Spring practices later, he is the leader of the pack. Can’t wait to get the QB situation resolved. It will be great for the entire offense.

    Whitlow was 17-28 for 182 yards, 2 TDs, and at least 4 passes were dropped. And he had some long drives. I don’t even see why the BBN is still talking about the QB situation.

  7. Georgia Blue

    Quit trying to compare this young man to Randall Cobb. This young man is QB not a receiver. If he wanted to play receiver, i am sure he would of have ask the new staff. Just remember this is a new staff and they are giving everybody a fair chance. If he win the QB battle by his performance and work. Then so be it. JALEN WHITLOW is a QB BBN. The MEDIA and FAN needs to accept it, You don’t see Louisville talking about Teddy Bridgewater should move to receiver. Hell Florida recruited him as a receiver and look what he did to them in the SUGAR BOWL. Louisville is still sending Miami and Florida flowers for letting him get out of the state of Florida. I don’t know why people still think that minority can’t play QB, because they always prove them wrong. Look at RG3, RUSSELL WILSON, CAM NEWTON, TB QB, 49ERS QB and so on

    1. John

      You are the only one who drew attention to any type of status.
      I hope all our players are BLUE.
      Whoever emerges as the starter should have all of our support.
      I want to see this team improve. I don’t care who is the QB as long as they earn it.

      PS
      whit Sr. you have raised a fine young man. Are there any younger ones that might play for BBN?

    2. larryvaught

      I meant my Cobb comparison to his demeanor, confidence. And remember, Randall believed he could play QB — and showed that he could have done that darn well, too.

  8. UKFMLY

    Thank you Mr. Whitlow for raising such a nice young man and for allowing him to be a part of the BBN. He has a special talent. His ability to just play football. He is a valuable asset to the team and will only get better. Thanks you.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

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