Kentucky is not expected to sign a quarterback in its 2015 recruiting class. Which could make Male's Davis Mattingly more important than the normal walk-on.
Mattingly, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound pocket passer, directed the offense for the team ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 6A for most of the season. Mattingly led Male (11-1) to regular season victories over traditional parochial school powers St. Xavier and Trinity in back-to-back weeks. However, the Bulldogs dropped a 38-31 heartbreaker to Trinity in the playoffs.
For the season, Mattingly threw for 2,305 yards and 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
Yet in recruiting, he drew offers primarily from NCAA Division II schools, Kentucky State and Kentucky Wesleyan, as well as Lindsey Wilson of the NAIA. Morehead State, which plays non-scholarship football in the FCS, also pursued Mattingly.
Never miss a local story.
"I wanted to play Division I football," Mattingly said Tuesday. "So I looked at my options there."
Former Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown spent a good bit of time evaluating him, Mattingly said. After Brown left UK to become head coach at Troy, Wildcats wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord stopped by Male to offer Mattingly the chance to be a preferred walk-on,
Western Kentucky and Marshall eventually offered Mattingly the same opportunity.
Mattingly grew up a Kentucky Wildcats fan. His father, David, is a UK graduate. His sister Morgan is in school at Kentucky now.
So it was hardly shocking when he accepted UK's offer to join its program.
(Mattingly said his mom, Susan, is a Louisville graduate "but she's come over as a Kentucky fan.")
The fact that Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker are the only scholarship QBs presently on the Cats' roster also played a considerable role in his decision, "That is something I looked at, that there are only three (scholarship quarterbacks)," he said.
Trying to walk-on and make an impact as a quarterback is a daunting challenge. Still, Kentucky is offering Mattingly the chance he wanted to show he can play in the FBS.
"I can't get discouraged if things don't go my way at first," he said. "I have to go in, work hard, just grind, and earn the trust of the coaches. Then, if an opportunity (to play) comes my way, I have to be ready to take advantage of it."