Quarterback Maxwell Smith is parting ways with Kentucky and transferring to San Diego State, his father told the Herald-Leader on Friday night.
Smith graduated in December, which means he can play right away at his next destination per NCAA rules, Kentucky spokesman Tony Neely said.
The Granada Hills, Calif., native played in 21 games at Kentucky, starting 11, but was sidelined by a series of injuries.
In a post on his Instagram account, Smith wished UK farewell, thanking coaches, teammates and fans.
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"I enjoyed every minute that I spent in Lexington and wouldn't change it for anything," Smith wrote. "Although injuries kept me from being the QB I wanted to be for the University, I still enjoyed every moment I spent behind center.
"I'll always be a Wildcat and want nothing but success for my brothers and coaches there, both past and present. Thank you BBN for being the best fans in the nation."
Smith's dad, Carl, confirmed his son's plan to attend nearby San Diego State.
"He loves, loves, loves, loves Kentucky with all of his heart; he is sad," Carl Smith texted on Friday. "He's happy but sad."
Smith, who passed for more than 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in his UK career, was peripherally a part of the quarterback race leading up to last season as he tried to come back from offseason shoulder surgery, going up against redshirt freshman Reese Phillips, true freshman Drew Barker and sophomore Patrick Towles, who eventually earned the starting spot.
Off the field, coaches and teammates said Smith served as a sort of student coach for Towles once he was named the starter in August.
"The way he's handled it, the energy that he brings, the commitment that he brings to this football team, he's wonderful that way," Mark Stoops said of Smith early in the season. "He really helps us."
Coaches made Smith Towles' roommate on the road and the UK quarterback said that helped him tremendously.
"He's all about answering my questions and giving advice and giving little wrinkles that he knows that nobody else knows, because he's played the position," Towles said.
In his UK media guide bio, Smith said his dream job was to become a head coach in the Southeastern Conference, which his then-offensive coordinator said he was on his way to becoming.
"It's something he's thinking about and he's got the talent and he's got the knack," former UK coordinator Neal Brown said. "He knows how to handle people. He's got good leadership skills. He's got a good knowledge of the game."
Smith, a 6-foot-4 quarterback from California, led Kentucky in passing yards for three straight seasons despite missing extended action with various injuries.
He played in eight games as a true freshman, setting a school record for most passing yards by a true freshman (283). Smith had a promising start to his sophomore year, throwing for 975 yards and eight touchdowns in three full games before being sidelined with an ankle injury in his first series against South Carolina.
In 2013, he played in nine games with four starts and led UK in passing with 1,276 yards and nine touchdowns despite struggling with a shoulder injury.