The summer is here and before you know it the quarterback competition will be hot and heavy in Lexington.
Earlier this week, Penn State transfer Will Levis arrived on campus to get settled in before fall camp while the other two front runners- Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen finished up install this spring. There’s going to be a lot of questions speculating over the months to come, so here’s what to expect as the BBN shifts through one of the most consequential quarterback battles in Kentucky Football history.
Will Levis is far and away the most intriguing quarterback going into fall camp. To Kentucky fans, he is truly an unknown entity (just like Gatewood last year), but all signs point to Levis being a legitimate talent at the quarterback position.
Levis followed Coen to Kentucky once he found out the former Rams coach was headed to the college ranks and with that northeastern tie-in, I can’t imagine Coen would welcome Levis with open arms if he didn’t think the former three-star didn’t have some untapped potential. At 6’4 222, Levis has the measurables perfect for a quarterback stepping into a presumed profile offense.
His elite-arm talent will lend its hand as well. After some practice videos of Levis surfaced online, fans quickly fell in love with his arm, then to make things better, Levis started working with biomechanics expert Rob Williams to put more zip on those throws.
To sum it up, I feel like there’s a lot of optimism in Lexington that Levis is legit, but we’ve just got to wait and see.
To judge Joey Gatewood on any kind of scale right now would be extremely unfair. Last season the only true sample size we got from Gatewood was a home date with that nasty Georgia defense. Gatewood wasn’t able to put the ‘Cats in the endzone, and he didn’t quite have the speed to run that mobile-QB-centric offense that Eddie Gran was running last year- or whatever it was.
That doesn’t mean Gatewood can’t ball. I’m sure those Cam Newton comparisons were there for a reason, there just hasn’t been enough tape for the BBN to be sold on Gatewood.
It is a bit concerning he couldn’t take over the job from Bo Nix or Terry Wilson the last two seasons, but in the right system, Gatewood can thrive. From what little we saw and heard from this spring it feels like Gatewood made a lot of strides towards being QB1, including this attention-grabbing throw to Wan’Dale Robinson.
Albeit a shaky ball-flight, that was an absolute bomb from Gatewood, something Liam Coen praised on KSR a couple of weeks ago.
“Intriguing prospect. Huge. Big. Works at it. Really has a strong arm. Can push the ball vertically down the field. Really works at the game, loves it. Has been with numerous different coordinators and offenses over the years, so just creating some stability for him will be huge for his development.”
If Gatewood can extend the field and bring just a smidge of mobility to Kentucky’s offense, he could finally be the quarterback to put Kentucky over the hump.
Then there’s Lexington native, Beau Allen. Allen received a lot of buzz throughout 2020- tabbed to be Kentucky’s future during his recruitment, Mark Stoops praised how quick Allen was improving during Camp last year. Throw in the fact that Beau Allen was the first quarterback named out of Coen’s mouth at his introductory press conference back in December and it felt like Allen had a real shot of being ahead of schedule.
As the months went on some of the expectations tapered off a bit. Still a Freshman, Allen does have some room to improve, but it’s apparent he’s got the intangibles to be the starter at his hometown school.
Let’s be clear about this right away: There is no true clubhouse leader- the job is still WIDE open. Liam Coen emphasized we are a long way from finding out who will be taking snaps for the Kentucky Wildcats in 2021, but it’s the offseason so let’s speculate.
Here’s what I guess the quarterback depth chart looks like as of today:
1A. Joey Gatewood
1B. Will Levis
2. Beau Allen
Joey Gatewood was the clear leader out of the spring. Taking first-team reps and hearing from sources that he was the man in the chair this spring leads me to think he had the job if the NCAA threw a surprise football game on folks tomorrow. However, it’s far from over.
Will Levis will absolutely shake things up in Lexington this fall and it appears Coen is in love with his game, it’s just a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together. Just because he missed out on installation, doesn’t mean he’s in the back of this quarterback battle. Remember Gatewood and Allen are learning a completely new system as well, and the separation between the three is every bit thin.
An Early Announcement
As KSR’s Adam Luckett pointed out on the latest edition of 11 Personel, we will know who Kentucky’s starter is before September 4th. It may come down to the week of, but the BBN will not walk into Kroger Field not knowing who the starter is.
That alone gives me a little peace of mind for a program that feels like it’s had an uncertain quarterback every year outside of 2017.
Fall camp can’t come soon enough.