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By LARRY VAUGHT
What did freshman Jalen Whitlow of Alabama do to elevate himself above Patrick Towles, the record-setting freshman quarterback from Highlands who was Kentucky’s Mr. Football last year when his team won a third straight state championship?
“It’s different. Different quarterback. Again, we have to get the third guy ready, and I just think a guy (Whitlow) that can win with his legs and some of our passing game, I just thought he would be the guy we’d go with,” Phillips said of the decision to make Whitlow No. 3 on the depth chart. “It has nothing to do with the future, but we just thought we had to make a decision, and we made the decision to go with Whitlow.”
Whitlow says there are no problems between him and Towles — who Phillips says likely will be redshirted — even though they are competing for the same position.
“We get along fine. We talk just like regular teammates,” Whitlow said. “He can throw the ball well. He has a strong arm.”
Stronger than you?
“I don’t know. We have never really had a contest, but I know he can throw the ball pretty far and is really a good quarterback and teammate,” Whitlow said.
Towles was touted as being better than just a quarterback. He was the marquee player in UK’s 2012 recruiting class and helped persuade other players to come to UK as well. He also indicated at the time that he would accept a redshirt year — something former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen of Highlands — hoped would happen.
But Towles also expected to compete for the starting job, not the No. 3 spot. Perhaps Phillips should have been a bit stronger with his reasons for redshirting Towles — like not wanting to waste a year of eligibility by using him sparingly as a backup.
Quarterback is not an easy position in the SEC. Not only is it hard to learn, but in most games only one quarterback gets to play. And Towles is not used to not being on the field. Same with Whitlow. He would like to be playing as well — which is what a coach should want from his players.
Kentucky is deeper at quarterback than perhaps it has ever been and that’s going to make for some interesting scenarios in the years ahead.