UK quarterback competition trimmed to two

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 19, 2013 

Kentucky coaches are closer to determining who will start at quarterback against Western Kentucky in less than two weeks.

Coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the position has been narrowed from three candidates to two.

"We're down to two," Brown said on Monday afternoon. "I'm not really going to discuss who those two are until (Stoops) does. ... We gave two guys the majority of the reps today and we'll continue with that. I think if one of them jumps up and takes it, then that will be our guy and if not, we'll get used to playing two."

After practice, Brown huddled with quarterbacks Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith. Asked whether it could be assumed those sophomores were the final two, Brown smiled.

"You know what they say about assuming," he said.

Stoops said redshirting the third quarterback is "a good option." That means Smith, who used his redshirt last year after suffering a season-ending ankle injury, is one of the finalists.

Stoops also was mum about when he will name a starter.

"We're working through that right now," the coach said. "We'll keep that in house here for a little bit. A starter has not been named, but we're getting in order."

'We're thinking about him'

Kentucky is looking for ways it can best offer condolences to the family of DeAntre Turman, the high school cornerback in Georgia who died unexpectedly after getting hurt in practice over the weekend.

UK isn't technically allowed to send a formal scholarship offer to Turman because he was only a junior, but Stoops said it's one of many ideas the team is pondering to honor the recruit.

"We're asking for some options on things that we're allowed to do, whether we could just send — you know, we're not normally allowed to mail an offer letter to somebody that age," Stoops said. "We'd like to do that. Maybe the father would like to have that as a memento. I think we were the first one to offer him, so we're looking into some of those things that we're allowed to do. We're asking for a waiver in that situation where we could just send it and send some flowers and just let him know we're thinking about him."

The 16-year-old was hurt in a scrimmage in Atlanta on Friday night. Several media outlets reported that Turman suffered a broken neck while making a tackle, fracturing his third cervical vertebra.

Turman went to Kentucky's first camp this summer and had developed a relationship with Cats cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley, Stoops said.

"(I) met him briefly and we offered him, and we were just getting started to recruit him for the next couple years," Stoops said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, with his dad."

Starting center unclear

Offensive coordinator Brown threw some for a loop on Saturday when he said Max Godby had taken a majority of the first-team reps at center in the scrimmage.

Zach Myers, who is out with a foot injury, and Zach West, who started every game at left guard last season, were thought to be the leading contenders for the job.

On Monday, Stoops said West isn't out of the center battle: "No, we're working all options right now. But Max is in there and Max is doing a good job at center as well."

Offensive line coach John Schlarman said the competition "is between Zach Myers and Max Godby. We've kind of got it down to those two. Those two guys have gotten more reps at that position than anybody since the spring."

Schlarman also said Jon Toth played center during the scrimmage. "He brings a little bit to the table, he provides depth at that position. I feel like he could go in and do a good job for us if called upon," Schlarman said.

Myers did not practice Monday. Schlarman said he is "still on his way back."

The heat is on

The mild weather at training camp has been a welcome reprieve for Brown after three seasons at Texas Tech.

"I've been used to about 120 (degrees) and a hair dryer the last three years," he said. "Lubbock, Texas, is about 110 with a 20-mile per hour wind. Dry heat. The wind blew, it was like a hair dryer."

The hot weather returned, even if briefly, on Monday to UK training camp. Stoops said it will remind his players about how hot the game could be on Aug. 31 in Nashville.

"It was very good to be hot this morning, and we had a good, long physical practice in full pads so it was good," Stoops said. "We needed that."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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