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By LARRY VAUGHT

If Patrick Towles is not happy at Kentucky, he’s certainly kept it to himself — something that is normally not easy for a quarterback who thought he would be playing to do.

Towles was Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2011 when he led Highlands to another state championship. He was the bellcow in then UK coach Joker Phillips’ final recruiting class and was viewed as the savior of UK football. Instead, he got to play sparingly in 2012 only because other quarterbacks were hurt — and then got injured himself.

This season he was redshirted as he tried to cope and learn new offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s pass-friendly offense.

But with starter Jalen Whitlow returning, redshirt freshman Reese Phillips ahead of Towles on the season-ending depth chart, the possible return of part-time starter Max Smith and the arrival of Conner quarterback Drew Barker at UK in January, many have speculated that Towles will transfer.

Don’t count on it based on two messages he posted on Twitter after UK’s season ending loss to Tennessee.

“Big thanks to the seniors for giving all they had day in and day out and for helping in this programs transformation!!! Always #family #BBN,” Towles posted. Then he added, “Can’t wait for Spring Ball in Lexington! All improvement until then!”

Walk-on linebacker Tre Dunn of Mercer County has seen no signs of unhappiness from Towles, who was not available to the media after the season started.

“Me and Towles are really good friends. I always heard about him and (freshman walk-on receiver) Ozzie (Sheehan) both at Highlands. We have been pretty good pals. I am close to all the K-Y (Kentucky) kids. We have to stick together,” Dunn said. “I think Patrick is an extremely hard working individual and adversity is nothing new to him. He has handled everything well. He will continue to work hard because that is what he does best.”

Towles never pouted on the sideline during a game. He was usually one of the first to cheer for teammates. When Jalen Whitlow was injured at Georgia, Towles put on his helmet and was ready to play if needed even though it would have burned his redshirt year.

“He is definitely someone regardless of what his position is on the team, he knows everyone has a role,” Dunn said. “He is someone to bring guys up with him and encourage everybody to keep optimistic on the sideline. He is awesome. That is a trait everyone respects because he’s awesome like that.

“He loves it here from what I can tell. I don’t know all the details, but Patrick is an awesome teammate and I love having him around. He’s great to be with.”

Former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen is a Towles fan. He coached Towles at Highlands, where he also played, and understands the rigors of playing quarterback in the SEC. He’s never asked Towles about his future plans, but knows he’s heard no transfer talk from those closest to him.

“He always kind of grew up wanting to play for UK. He finally got his wish and he’s on full scholarship,” Lorenzen said. “He got to play (last year), throw touchdowns. I have not heard anything about transferring. He could light it up in the spring (practice). Not anyone is just going to be given the job. Someone has to take it. Maybe he just needs another year for that to be him.”

Some have speculated maybe Towles would stay at UK and change positions. Lorenzen says no way to that.

“He is a quarterback. It’s hard if you have never played another position to switch and do it. It just takes  certain mentality to play quarterback,” Lorenzen said.

But what about Danville’s Chase Harp? He was recruited by UK coach Hal Mumme at quarterback, didn’t win the job and eventually became a productive, starting tight end.

“What I love about Chase is that he was a dirty, mean player, and I mean that as a compliment,” Lorenzen said. “I wish I had had more of that in me. Chase loved the weight room. He was going to fight you. That was him. Moving him was fine.

“But at Highlands, if you play quarterback, you don’t play any other position. He did not play much defense in Pee Wee football. It’s just too hard at 21 years old to make a change like that.”

But could he cope with not playing another year if Whitlow, Phillips or Barker wins the No. 1 job over him?

“That’s person by person. He’s one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever been around,” Lorenzen said. “He wants to win and be the quarterback. All quarterbacks do. But a lot of backup quarterbacks realize they are getting school paid for, he’s there with his friends on a team and Pat could be part of teams that turn UK football around. There’s a lot to be said for that. On the opposite side, he could say I’ve given this long enough and I want to go where I can play. Everybody’s different.”

Lorenzen said the “mental maturity” is different for every player and for some, it takes longer.

“Everybody grows up at a different time mentally,” Lorenzen said. “Physically, the kid is a beast. But it’s really different playing quarterback in the SEC compared to the Big Ten, ACC or American whatever. This is where the cream is.”

16 Responses to What will QB Patrick Towles do? Teammates says “he loves it here from what I can tell”

  • Ira says:

    Realize it was a different offense, but Mike Hartline didn’t start to hit his stride till he was a JR then got hurt against USCjr. Came back a SR and was a very good QB for us. Same thing may happen for Towles. Plus our WR’s will be a little more experienced and we get some more help on the OL coming this spring as well. All of it will factor in. PT may suddenly jump ahead of everyone and be the guy we’ve all been waiting for.

    Myself would love to have a JR QB out there leading this team next year. Kid has a cannon of an arm. Give him decent WR’s and an OL that can hold up to the pass rush more than 1/2 second and we might have a QB that can go thru their progressions.

  • Will says:

    Honestly I think it would be best if Towles just goes to another school and tries to play ball there. I mean really the writing is on the wall. It is Jalen then Max, next Reese and now the “great” Drew Barker ( unless he is another player that the recruiters got wrong ). But they are all in line ahead of him. I can’t imagine anyone being happy standing on the sidelines cheering on the other players and never getting to play. Unless you are one of those walk ons that never get in and you are kind of expecting that. But with Towles he expected to come and play immediately, he was supposed to be the “savior” or the “saving grace” of UK football. We’ll that didn’t happen! I’m sure there are some D2 or NAIA schools out there that would take him. Start looking around, it’s time to move on Patrick….

  • RJ says:

    Will:

    I disagree. IMO Whitlow does not have a lock on #1 next year. Far from it. He was too inconsistent in passing and making his reads. My money is on Philips coming out of the blocks next spring. I think it will surprise everyone just how strong Towles emerges next spring as well and I believe that Philips and Towles have a real dog fight on getting the #1 spot. Like I said my money is on Philips.

    This year’s red shirt for Towles was payback for how badly Joker Philips screwed his initial redshirt year so I don’t think Towles figured into the playing rotation at all much less #3.

    Barker is almost a certain redshirt next year. Assuming that either Philips or Towles wins the #1 nod, the Barker redshirt falls pretty neatly into the future QB rotation. To play his freshman year, Barker would almost certainly have to come in at #1 and then you might see one or more of the QB’s transfer. I think there is little chance of this; at least initially. The college game and high school game is just too different.

  • Fort Thomas Junior Football league coach says:

    Proud of how tight lipped Highlands kids are. They were taught to have class. Maybe think outside of the box. Coming from four state championships, never losing a game and then going to exactly the opposite, with little participation the past two years. Does not sound like such a good feeling when you are established winners. Doesn’t meet the definition of success in Fort Thomas. Two straight 2 win and 10 loss seasons, there was no good reason why my guys have not seen the field. That being said, if you play at Highlands, you get known and followed by some serious football coaches. Some secrets stay in the huddle.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was one good reason, a RS year and saving a year of eligibility for him in a season that went south in a hurry. I am not saying that progress was not made. He will get his chance. There were guys ahead of him who had paid their dues dude.

  • Larry Pup says:

    Let the kid make up his own mind. He is for sure not out of the competition IMO. He could be the starter. Things happen, people get hurt, etc. He might just have a whale of a spring. I’m just glad Patrick is a “Wildcat” and UK has some depth at that position. I sure don’t want to see him leave the program.

  • Ira says:

    Will,

    I disagree with you as well. Refer to my Hartline comment above.

    RJ, With Reese Phillips named No 2 on the depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t become the starter out of spring. But like I said above, Everything could start to click for PT in his Jr year. Be fun to see.

    I don’t think we are going to have 5 scholarship QB’s though. Be my guess when Coach Stoops has those frank conversations with players, Max Smith will be asked to transfer. His shoulder isn’t the same. He passed on shoulder surgery and has never been the same. Could be totally wrong, but will be really surprised if he is with us fall camp next yr.

    • RJ says:

      Agreed. But I think Smith will be allowed to finish his schooling at UK if he wishes. I think he’ll be an academic senior next year. If Stoops let rule breakers participate in senior day, it’s not likely that he’ll pull the rug out from a guy that has paid his dues and stuck by the team when the going was rough in Stoops’ first year as HC; if for no other reason than his experience for the young QBs. I truly hope that I am not wrong on this one. Smith is a decent guy and never once bitched about playing second fiddle. I think you have a hard time throwing a kid like that overboard. Not good politics if you still want to recruit QB’s. Parents would look at that and say, “wow, if my kid gets hurt at UK, they make dog meat of him and throw him out with the trash”…

      I do think Whitlow will be asked to learn a new position, al la Cobb. He’s a good athlete and can be productive at the right position and the occasional Wildcat… That would get the Cats to three scholarship QB’s + one redshirt and Smith graduates in the spring of ’15.

  • Little Baron says:

    Towles is a class act… His actions on the sideline and posts like this say a lot…
    “Big thanks to the seniors for giving all they had day in and day out and for helping in this programs transformation!!! Always #family #BBN,” Towles posted. Then he added, “Can’t wait for Spring Ball in Lexington! All improvement until then!”

    I hope he stays. Anyone who had to play for Joker & that staff paid a dear price, especially a QB. It was like target practice for opposing lineman and linebackers to go after UK QBs the past couple years due to non-competitive recruiting of OLs and WRs.

    I remian fully supportive of Stoops and this entire staff. However, if Whitlow is anywhere on the depth chart as a QB, then I will lose all respect and confidence in them. Next year there will be some new Offensive Linemen and depth at the position. Tbere will no longer be any excuse not to play our passing QBs. with Towles, Reese, Smith and incoming Barker all capable passers.

  • Ira says:

    RJ,

    I think if Phillips or Towles is named the starter bet Whitlow does get moved to a new position. But I would think they would keep him as the Wildcat QB at the very least. Be crazy not to. Fast, tough runner, and he is an accurate enough thrower he would play merry heck with defenses coming in as a Wildcat QB.

    Most a Wildcat formations is a run, and to have Whitlow back there where we could literally run & pass. Defenses couldn’t load the box up when the wildcat formation came in, they would have to spread out to defend both. With him in, you could take Phillips out for a play or 2 allowing him to talk with the OC. Plus this would Allow another playmaker on the field the D would have to defend, while Whitlow was eating them up in the run/pass and let him read it his choice. UK could have a very explosive offense with the Wildcat being used right. Just my thought on it.

  • Seymour says:

    Just who among you thought that we had a SEC competent QB last season? Whitlow could not throw the ball into the ocean if he were in a row boat. Smith Had a few good days, but still could not be counted on to get the job done. Phillips is a totally unproven redshirt freshman with no reason to believe he will be better, or worse, than Barker. Towles has had plenty of time to develop his game and still looks like he is in high school. Barker, like Phillips, has no experience at all.

    All I can say is that the coaching staff has a task that I would not wish on anyone. We will be lucky to field a QB that can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.

    As to Patrick transferring, if he cannot be the starter at UK, why would one believe that he could be the starter anywhere else. Its not like the competition here was to strong.

    • Larry Pup says:

      Seymour, cut em some slack. The young QB’s may surprise you. It could be any of them. A RS year makes a big difference. I look for Barker to RS however.

    • RJ says:

      Seymour:

      A good O-line can make a pedestrian QB look like the next Heisman winner. Whereas a struggling O-Line will make an All American QB look worse than a bush league QB. Add to that receives who drop a lot of passes, and you get Max Smith. Yeah, Smith has shoulder problems this year but it wasn’t all on him.

  • Ira says:

    Seymour,

    Apparently you have forgotten Hartline’s RS Sophmore year. The year that just about every fan was about willing to run him out of town. He made bone headed mistakes. Threw in double triple coverage on occasion got picked off, misread his progressions missed wide open WR’s and tried to force it in on covered ones.

    Everyone grumbled how he looked, wanted one of the new guys, 1 of the other RS JR’s to play the following yr, then it all clicked in the USCjr game. He was having a really good game you could tell. Spurrier’s D was having a hard time with our O, and then he gets injured on a dead whistled play.

    Funny no one wants to remember Hartline. Funny no one wants to remember Hartline who in his SR year absolutely lit it up. Guess it doesn’t fit anyone’s agenda. The point being Hartline who turned out to be a very good QB for us, the lights didn’t turn on till his JR year and that was cut short by a season ending injury.

    The same could work out for Towles. It also just face it, is repaying Towles his RS back. He got robbed of it by Joker. He played in 2 meaningless games and lost his freshmen RS because of it. He asked the coaching staff if he could have that year back. They agreed.

    2 things are working out, it balances the QB situation out some by his RS. Adds a little separation between 3 QB’s now that we’d have lost to graduation in one year otherwise. Also it allowed PT to not stress the playing time or depth, get better on the play book, get better on S&C. So hopefully the coaches are gambling in the spring they get a much improved QB in PT that will fight for the starting position.

  • rebel4life (off-season) says:

    Hard Truth. Fry me if you like!

    Unless Barker is Super Man, he will redshirt next year. (Conner HS is a long way off from SEC ball, but I hope he is the real deal!) Many people don’t like the way this staff has used the redshirts, but I love it!!! Why expose a Towles or Phillips with a weak OL and surrounding skill positions?… Please admit, Stoops and Co. chalked this year up in exchange for future success. Towles was obviously shaken in 2012, thrown in to the fire by the Joke and not ready. Who knows what he’s got? (Besides a strong arm and average accuracy) As evidenced by his RS year this year.

    My opinions don’t mean squat, but I can see the future and Whitlow and Smith aren’t there. I love ‘em, but Whitlow needs to be a RB, TE, or WR, and Smith needs to transfer to UC-Davis.

    Reese Phillips is the most accurate and capable QB in 2014. Hey…Towles and Barker…prove me wrong, please.

    I understand we are still a few years away, but I would still like to see wins against UT-Martin, Vandy, and UT next year, and maybe a couple of other surprises. (Please beat the Cards!)

    Note to Stoops: You need to run up the score on Vandy ASAP. Franklin is a major DoucheBag! Do not ever feel guilty for dropping 80 on that jackA$$ in the future!

    On On UofK!!!!

  • Glenn Fohr says:

    I think this kid is a gem that just needed time to get some polish on to shine. I can’t wait to see this kid’s improvement in the spring and I do think he will get the starting nod after a huge spring.

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