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By ASHLEY SCOBY
For the rest of the football offseason, I’m going to be doing some previews here on Vaught’s Views for the UK football season – incoming players, position battles, etc. Want to learn more about a particular signee or want a preview of the long snappers next year? Shoot me an email with any ideas/suggestions at email@example.com. Until then…
For these previews, I’m going to start with a write-up about who I think will end up being one of the most important football recruits Kentucky has had in quite some time. If Patrick Towles shakes out to be everything he has the potential to be, UK could be looking at another streak of success. What makes Towles such a special QB prospect? Let’s break it down:
Size: The guy is listed as 6’5, 232 pounds, on his Rivals page, but some reports say he’s grown another inch to 6’6. The importance of a quarterback’s size is underestimated by some, overestimated by others. But the fact that Towles will easily be able to see over his line is great because it’s one less thing he has to worry about. Also, a 230-pound quarterback is harder to bring down than some scrawny kid with a good arm.
Proven success: During his senior year, Towles went for 57 total TD’s (42 passing) and threw only one interception on the whole season. Throwing only one interception in 15 games played is bizarre, but it’s the kind of bizarre Kentucky would love to see lining up behind center in the fall. He also rushed for nearly 600 yards and for 15 touchdowns. While he’s primarily a pro-style quarterback, Towles isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and go for it. Not to mention he’s harder to bring down than other quarterbacks may be.
Attitude: Towles has got that kind of competitive spirit that is rare to find in a true freshman, especially a quarterback. Most quarterbacks coming into their college situation talk about wanting to learn the playbook, get to know the offense better and maybe redshirt a season. Towles comes in talking about how he wants to compete for the starting position. He wants to be the starter for the season-opener against Louisville, and that’s a gutsy statement coming from an 18- or 19-year-old kid. Even if Max Smith (the projected starter) is able to beat out the true freshman, Towles won’t mope about it.
“I’m going to go in and compete for the starting quarterback job and if I don’t get it, then I don’t get it and I will do whatever Coach Phillips tells me to do.”
That selfless, team-first attitude is getting rarer and rarer these days, with kids wanting to do everything they can to promote themselves to the NFL teams constantly watching. Towles is more concerned with showing his own coach, Joker, that he is ready to compete at the SEC level, and that even if he’s not, he will be happy with whatever role on the team he fits into.
Kentucky roots: This is always cited as being important with basketball recruiting – being a “Kentucky” boy playing Kentucky basketball. But it doesn’t get mentioned as much in football. Maybe it’s because the football program gets quite a few recruits from the home state, and the possibility of a Kentucky boy playing football at UK isn’t all that rare. But for the quarterback position, that kind of heritage is important. Look at Andre’ Woodson: He came from Kentucky, and gave his absolute heart and soul to the program. Kids from the state of Kentucky understand what the expectations are like for the football program. You’re probably saying, “What expectations?”
Exactly. Anyone who has lived in Kentucky for the last few years, as Towles has, understands that expectations are at a low once again. (I won’t say at an all-time low, simply because I think anybody reading this understands the history of Kentucky football well enough to know that expectations have historically been pretty low). A quarterback from Kentucky coming to play at UK would undeniably want to change that attitude about Kentucky football. Someone coming from another state might not understand that situation as well, and wouldn’t be as motivated to raise the bar of the program.
So what can we expect from Towles during his freshman year? There has been a lot of talk about Towles being allowed to compete for the starting quarterback job. Mostly anyone following the team believes that Max Smith will be the starter come September, but if an injury or other situation were to happen where Smith couldn’t strap on his helmet, maybe Towles will step up to the plate. Count me as one who hopes he is redshirted. If Towles is redshirted (as Woodson and many other successful UK quarterbacks have been), it gives him a chance to really get to know the offense and build relationships with his receivers and tight ends. Also, a year off this year would give Towles two full years of eligibility after Smith has graduated. If he can translate his immense potential to the field at Commonwealth Stadium, the future looks much brighter for Kentucky football.