UK Football

How does Kentucky QB Terry Wilson stack up against 129 other starters?

Is Terry Wilson one of college football’s 50 best quarterbacks? Pro Football Focus believes so.

The website, which specializes in the analysis of NFL and FBS college football games, rated Wilson as the 46th-best starting quarterback at the college level heading into 2019, one spot ahead of Memphis’ Brady White and right behind Boston College’s Anthony Brown. The rankings were based on a player’s final PFF grade from last season and other data sets available to the site.

“Wilson takes care of the football when needed in the passing game and can take off with it when all breaks down in front of him,” Cam Mellor, a senior college football analyst for the site, wrote of the UK junior. ”That being said, his anticipatory throws are a thing of beauty but need to come far more than they did a season ago for the Wildcats to be considered a scary aerial attack.”

UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Tuesday that in the Wildcats’ first intrasquad scrimmage of fall camp that Wilson completed 16 of his 20 pass attempts and did not throw an interception.

“I thought he managed the game really well, but out of those four (incompletions), he had two where he got himself in a bad situation instead of checking the ball down,” Gran said. “Don’t take a sack. If we can eliminate those, he would have been pretty stellar in his first scrimmage out.”

Mellor wrote that Wilson’s ability to run is “among the nation’s best.” Gran, when asked about Wilson’s ability to distinguish whether to scramble or not, said it was “night and day” from where it was a year ago.

“He’s making quicker decisions, going through his reads, getting the ball out,” Gran said. “He had one where he didn’t, and he took a sack. If we can eliminate that to zero, we’ll be in pretty good shape. But for his first scrimmage and only one like that for that mistake, is pretty good. … He’s getting a lot better, really gaining confidence each day.”

Only two Southeastern Conference quarterbacks — Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm — were more accurate passers in 2018 than Wilson, who connected on 67.2 percent of his throws as a sophomore transfer from Garden City Community College. Those two were the only SEC quarterbacks ranked inside the Pro Football Focus top 10; Tagovailoa was No. 2 behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence while Fromm clocked in at No. 9 overall.

Six other SEC quarterbacks were ranked in front of Wilson: LSU’s Joe Burrow (17th), Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano (21st), Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond (25th), Missouri’s Kelly Bryant (29th), South Carolina’s Jake Bentley (33rd) and Florida’s Feleipe Franks (43rd). He ranked ahead of Mississippi’s Matt Corral (50th), Mississippi State’s Tommy Stevens (63rd) and Auburn’s Joey Gatewood (96th).

Former St. Xavier High School quarterback Desmond Ridder, now the starter at Cincinnati, ranked No. 23 overall. PFF’s analytics are high on Ridder in part because of how he measures in “big-time throws against turnover-worthy passes.” His ratio in that department is comparable to Lawrence and Houston’s D’Eriq King, ranked fourth overall. “All this means Ridder knows when to take his shots and how to protect the football and big things are on the horizon for him and the rest of the Luke Fickell-led Bearcats,” Mellor wrote.

Based on PFF’s rankings, Eastern Michigan senior Mike Glass III is the best quarterback UK will face among its non-conference opponents this season. Glass, a proficient runner, came in at 56th on the list. “While he develops as a passer, if all else fails, he’s shown that documented ability to move the chains with his legs at ease,” Mellor wrote.

University of Louisville junior Jawon Pass was ranked 128th out of 130 total quarterbacks, ahead of only South Alabama’s Cephus Johnson (129th) and Rutgers’ Artur Sitkowski (130th). His overall grade was the second-lowest, ahead of only Sitkowski, among returning starters from last season.

Schools whose starters have not yet been decided were graded on their quarterback situation. Such was the case for two Kentucky opponents — Arkansas (102nd) and Vanderbilit (85th) — as well as Western Kentucky (100th).

Purdue starter Elijah Sindelar, a former standout at Caldwell County High School, ranked 94th overall. “He’ll have to limit the turnover-worthy plays if he’s to make any moves in 2019,” Mellor wrote.

Toledo’s Mitchell Guadagni, the first quarterback UK’s young secondary will see this fall, was No. 69 on the PFF’s list. “He’s no Logan Woodside but Guadagni has certainly shown the ability to light up the scoreboard when healthy,” Mellor wrote.

Jarren Williams, a former UK commit who on Monday was named the starter at Miami (Fla.), was ranked 77th overall.

Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.
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