UK Football

UK quarterback Terry Wilson to miss rest of 2019 season with a torn patellar tendon

Josh Moore, John Clay share thoughts on UK’s win over Eastern Michigan

Lexington Herald-Leader sports columnist John Clay and beat writer Josh Moore share their impressions from Kentucky football's 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan on September 7, 2019, at Kroger Field.
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Lexington Herald-Leader sports columnist John Clay and beat writer Josh Moore share their impressions from Kentucky football's 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan on September 7, 2019, at Kroger Field.

Terry Wilson, the University of Kentucky’s starting quarterback during its entire 2018 campaign and the first two games this year, will miss the remainder of the season.

An MRI on Sunday showed the severity of Wilson’s injury, suffered Saturday late in the third quarter of UK’s 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in his left knee that will require surgery.

“I’m very sorry about Terry’s injury,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a news release from the school. “He has done so much for our program over the last two seasons, both in leadership and his production on the field. As a team captain, he will continue to be an important part of our team and we look forward to him returning to the field when he has recovered.”

Kentucky defeated Penn State in the Citrus Bowl to finish 10-3 last season, the first time the program won double-digit games in more than 40 years. Wilson, an Oklahoma City native who transferred from Garden City Community College in January 2018, started every game as a sophomore. He finished as the third-most accurate passer in the Southeastern Conference last year (67.2%), threw for 1,889 yards and rushed for 547 yards.

Wilson’s touchdown-to-interception ratio last season — 11 to 8 — was an area of improvement that, through two games, appeared to be headed in the right direction. Against Toledo and Eastern Michigan, Wilson combined to go 33 of 52 (63.5%) for 360 yards, two TDs and no picks. He’d also rushed for 44 yards and a TD prior to his injury.

Wilson is the third player that UK has lost to a season-ending injury in 2019. Junior safety Davonte Robinson suffered a torn quad prior to the start of fall camp and during camp Nik Scalzo, a true freshman quarterback, tore the ACL in his right knee for the second time in less than a year.

University of Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson was removed from Kroger Field on a cart after injuring his left knee during Saturday's 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan.

Sawyer Smith, a graduate transfer from Troy who joined the program in the offseason, will start in Wilson’s absence. He was the backup there last season before an injury forced him to start the final seven games, including Troy’s win over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl.

Smith has two years of eligibility. He completed the Eastern Michigan game Saturday night, throwing for 76 yards and two TDs on 5-for-9 passing in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve seen a lot of our players get hurt and miss a season,” Stoops said. “… But the guys believe in Sawyer and we’re going to play to win no matter who is playing. Everybody better get that straight right now. We’re sad for Terry and it stinks because it’s part of our game, but believe me, we’re going back to work with the intent to win a football game next week, and that’s the way we’re going to approach it every week.”

Kentucky backup quarterback Sawyer Smith talks to the media after UK’s 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan. A grad transfer from Troy, Smith could be the team’s starter after Terry Wilson was injured Saturday night.

The injuries to Scalzo and Wilson leave UK with three potential backups to Smith with no live-game experience: Walker Wood, a Lafayette graduate, is a sophomore who’s undergone multiple surgeries in his UK tenure and has never seen the field; Amani Gilmore is a true freshman; and Kolbe Langhi, a Christian County graduate, is a walk-on.

Lynn Bowden took multiple snaps at quarterback during fall camp and threw a pass — a 32-yard completion to Wilson — during Saturday’s game.

“If it was to come down to it, I’m a workhorse,” Bowden said Saturday. “If I’ve got to put the team on my back, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops discusses the injury to quarterback Terry Wilson, who left UK’s 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan in the third quarter with a leg injury. He left the field via a cart.

Wilson, who has another year of eligibility following this season, could at some point apply for a medical hardship waiver to gain eligibility for the 2021 season. Wilson played in two games for UK this season, which is below the maximum of three contests/30 percent of contests that the NCAA permits when considering those waivers.

Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar, a graduate of Caldwell County High School, is the most notable recent example of a player who was granted a medical hardship waiver. Sindelar redshirted in 2015, played in 2016 and 2017, then missed most of Purdue’s 2018 season with multiple injuries. The NCAA granted Sinderlar’s request for an additional year of eligibility, which would occur in the 2020 season if he chooses to use it.


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