Ex-Cat Whitlow transfers to OVC champ Eastern Illinois

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMay 21, 2014 

Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow with offensive coordinator Neal Brown during the Cats' game at Vanderbilt last November. Kentucky announced Tuesday that Whitlow, who played in 22 games in his first two seasons, will transfer to another school.

PHOTO BY MARK CORNELISON | STAFF — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

After parting ways with Kentucky, quarterback Jalen Whitlow found a place to land.

Defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois announced Wednesday that Whitlow and three other transfers were joining the team.

Whitlow, who started 15 games at Kentucky and accounted for 1,502 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, will be eligible to play for the Panthers immediately.

In UK's four-quarterback race this spring, Whitlow had made progress, but not as much as Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips or Drew Barker, and coaches then asked the 6-foot-2, 217 junior-to-be to switch to wide receiver.

Whitlow chose to look for another school where he could play quarterback. The Panthers' quarterback last year, Jimmy Garoppolo, was drafted by the New England Patriots this month.

Whitlow joins an offense that saw Garoppolo break Tony Romo's school records for career passing touchdowns and yards and passing touchdowns in a season.

Garoppolo passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns last season, leading the Panthers to the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. They finished 12-2 and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the FCS poll.

Whitlow, who will have two seasons of eligibility at Eastern Illinois, is able to play immediately because he is transferring down a division from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Panthers, who have a new head coach in Kim Dameron, return 14 starters from last year's team. Dameron was the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech last year. He coached safeties at Ole Miss from 2008-10.

Andrew Manley, a red-shirt senior transfer from New Mexico State, seemed to grab the lead at quarterback after spring practice. The Panthers played four quarterbacks in the spring game.

Last year's backup, Ben Krol, a 6-foot-6, 247-pound redshirt junior who played in eight games, also returns.

Eastern Illinois opens the season at Minnesota on Aug. 28 and will play Eastern Kentucky in Richmond on Oct. 11.

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

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