Mark Stoops says any extra motivation is good
Sawyer Smith started at quarterback in Troy’s final seven games last season, including a 42-33 bowl-game victory over Buffalo in which he completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
Now Smith is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, and is expected to be the Wildcats’ No. 2 option behind Terry Wilson, who won 10 games as a sophomore starter last year. Smith threw for 14 TDs and nearly 1,700 yards last year under head coach Neal Brown, a Boyle County native and former UK wide receiver who left the Trojans for West Virginia University in the offseason.
Two transfers from Lexington — Danny Clark in the fall, Gunnar Hoak following spring practice — forced the need for an experienced quarterback behind Wilson heading into this season. Smith committed to UK in May and the school officially announced his enrollment this week; he has two years of eligibility remaining.
“He’s a really talented player, but he’s also played in big games. I’m a big believer at that position you don’t know exactly what you have until you get him into a game,” head coach Mark Stoops said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “And so the fact with us having some transfers leave us, we had a quarterback that was a sophomore that won 10 games, and so we had some departures, it was important to bring some experience in there until we have some of our young quarterbacks have the time to develop.”
Walker Wood, who starred at Lafayette High School, is a redshirt sophomore who’s battled injuries in his time with the Cats, and freshmen Amani Gilmore and Nik Scalzo did not go through spring practice. Kolbe Langhi, a sophomore walk-on, is the only other quarterback currently on UK’s roster.
“Sawyer’s going to be a big piece of it. How big? I don’t know,” Stoops said. “We’ll see when he gets on campus and we get to work with him. But I’m excited to have him. I’m excited to have that experience. He’s been under pressure. He’s played in big games. You’ve seen him deliver under pressure. So that’s really important to have at that position, as you know.”