UK Football

Can Walker Wood give UK a Johnny Manziel-like ‘gunslinger’ at QB?

Walker Wood gives update on rehab

Former Lafayette quarterback Walker Wood, an early enrollee at UK, talks about the rehab process after undergoing knee surgery in December.
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Former Lafayette quarterback Walker Wood, an early enrollee at UK, talks about the rehab process after undergoing knee surgery in December.

When star Lafayette quarterback Walker Wood committed to Kentucky in 2015 during his junior season of high school, Shannon Dawson was the UK offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Dawson and UK parted ways after the 2015 season, of course. Yet Wood, a 2017 Kentucky signee, will still be playing at UK for a QB coach who liked him as a prospect enough to offer a scholarship.

Louisville and Cincinnati were the first two schools that offered the dual-threat Lafayette QB. The UC quarterbacks coach at the time was Darin Hinshaw — the same Darin Hinshaw who is now the co-offensive coordinator and QB coach for Kentucky.

“I went to the Cincinnati camp the summer going into my junior year,” Wood said. “That’s when I met Coach Hinshaw. ... We did quarterback drills and stuff.

“I loved Coach Dawson, too. I thought he was a good guy and a good coach. But when I found out (Hinshaw) had been hired at Kentucky, I was excited and it was a good thing we already had a prior relationship.”

There’s been speculation that Wood’s lack of height — 6-foot, 189 pounds — coupled with his toughness and athleticism could lead to a college position change. On a recent appearance on WLAP radio’s Big Blue Insider program with host Dick Gabriel, Hinshaw said he was comfortable with Wood as a quarterback.

“He’s shorter, about 6-foot tall, but that’s fine. Drew Brees is 6-foot tall,” Hinshaw said of the New Orleans Saints star.

As a Lafayette senior, Wood threw for 3,047 yards and 30 touchdowns and ran for 1,321 yards and 31 TDs. He will miss Kentucky’s spring practice while he rehabilitates following surgery on a knee he injured in the Class 6A state championship against Trinity.

The scrambling style Wood displayed while leading Lafayette to back-to-back appearances in the 6A title game caused Hinshaw to compare him — strictly in an on-the-field capacity — to another 6-foot QB of recent vintage.

“He’s a gunslinger-type quarterback, a lot like Johnny Manziel,” Hinshaw said of Texas A&M’s 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. “(Wood’s) release is very, very fast. He’s done a great job at quarterback.”

National signing day

Today’s features on UK recruits Clevan Thomas and Walker Wood are the first of several we’ll be publishing in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com over the next two days. Stay with Kentucky.com for live updates throughout signing day on Wednesday and pick up Thursday’s Herald-Leader for additional special coverage of the class of 2017.

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