UK Football

New QB crisscrossed the country looking for a home. Here’s why he chose Kentucky.

'Getting that bond together.' New QB talks about how he's settling in at Kentucky.

Junior-college transfer Terry Wilson met with the media on Tuesday, along with four other mid-year enrollees on the UK football team.
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Junior-college transfer Terry Wilson met with the media on Tuesday, along with four other mid-year enrollees on the UK football team.

There’s no Google Maps for the college selection process.

There’s no confident female voice emanating from your phone telling you that this is the best way to get from Point A to Point B.

Terry Wilson’s route to get to Kentucky, where he hopes to be the starting quarterback come September, didn’t go exactly as planned, but he’s happy with where he has landed.

“It’s heaven here,” the 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore from Oklahoma City said as one of UK’s five mid-year enrollees made available to the media on Tuesday. “I call it heaven. It’s great.”

That path to get to Kentucky wasn’t always heavenly.

Originally signed by Oregon out of Del City High School, Wilson redshirted a season with the Ducks. Then he spent six months as quarterback for Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he threw for 2,133 yards and 26 touchdowns and ran for 518 yards and five additional scores.

After that season in the junior-college ranks, Wilson was pulled in many different directions.

There were offers from Florida and Nebraska. Coaches he had connections with beckoning him to turn right or turn left. Rumors and reports surfaced about him taking a visit at one place and then another.

“He was getting pulled a million different directions,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said on the early signing day of the Cats’ newest signal caller, who is expected to compete for the starting spot with sophomore Gunnar Hoak.

The coach decided to have “a very direct conversation” about his intentions with Wilson.

“He was unbelievable,” Stoops recalled. “You saw the maturity in him. When he talked to me he said, ‘I never really looked at it that way.’ He said, ‘I hear you, Coach.’”

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Quarterback Terry Wilson was one of five UK football mid-year enrollees who spoke with the media on Tuesday. Mark Mahan

After that chat, Wilson took some time to talk things over with his family, then called Stoops back and made plans for the visit that ultimately would swing him toward the Cats.

“There was a lot of guys that I was talking to, lot of people in my ear,” Wilson recalled of that talk with Stoops. “But after I talked to him, we agreed on things and everything and just had to get my visits set in order.

“Once I did that, everything fell into place, obviously. That’s really how that went. It wasn’t really bad conversation, a lot of agreement and maturity on my end and everything, and on his end. So, we got the job done.”

That maturity is what could make Wilson a quick difference-maker for Kentucky, which returns several key offensive playmakers like running back Benny Snell, tight end C.J. Conrad, wide receiver Dorian Baker and a number of offensive line veterans.

But with the graduation of quarterback Stephen Johnson and the departure of backup Drew Barker, Kentucky’s offense will be in new hands come September.

“The nice thing about Terry is he’s a year older, played a year of college football, he’s already been at a Power Five school for a year, so he knows what he’s getting into,” Stoops said.

While the journey hasn’t always been easy, the transition to UK has been for Wilson, who already has thrown passes with wide receivers at Kroger Field and played pickup basketball with other teammates.

Building “camaraderie with the team” has been his top goal since he arrived on campus two weeks ago.

“You’ve gotta come in and get the respect for those guys,” Wilson said. “You’ve gotta be a guy they can trust. You can’t be coming in and making the wrong decisions and stuff like that. My part, I just had to come in and get close with the guys.”

The quarterback, who has three years of eligibility remaining after one season at a junior college, is learning his third playbook in as many years.

Wilson, who earned the nickname “Touchdown” from the student section at his high school where he passed for 2,406 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior while rushing for 709 yards and 11 scores, said he models his game most after Robert Griffin III at Baylor.

The newcomer has been studying sections of the UK playbook, doing some install every day or two while watching old footage of the offense under Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw.

“Clicking pretty fast, getting used to everything, getting used to the terminology,” Wilson explained. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing as a quarterback, especially transferring from two other schools. I feel like just learning the terminology is the biggest part.”

A smiling, focused Wilson is happy with where he landed, even if there was some misdirection along the way.

“It’s been a long road,” he acknowledged.

But he’s learned from the journey.

“Keeping my head strong, keeping my vision tight — tunnel vision — and just keeping that focus on what I need to do, what the goal is for me and this team, for the guys out there so we can get the job done.”

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks about the process of signing junior-college quarterback Terry Wilson.

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader