There is an odd dynamic about the 2021 Kentucky quarterback competition

·4 min read

Quick hitters from the Brooklyn Nets wake:

21. Liam Coen. Job one for the former Los Angeles Rams assistant quarterbacks coach now that he is running the Kentucky Wildcats offense is to get a consistent passing game going to complement UK’s punishing ground attack.

20. The quarterback battle. Obviously, the biggest question in Coen’s quest to reignite what had become a dormant Kentucky passing attack will be who claims the open Cats QB position.

19. The scuttlebutt. Take it for what it is worth, but the “word” on the street this summer is that Penn State transfer Will Levis and Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood, in that order, are the most likely to start under center for Mark Stoops’ troops in 2021.

18. The odd dynamic. What makes it fascinating if the transfers actually do have a leg up in the UK QB battle is that both Levis and Gatewood, at their former schools, were used as situational “running quarterbacks.”

17. Will Levis. In his two seasons playing at Penn State (2019 and 2020), the 6-foot-3, 222-pound product of Madison, Conn., rushed the football 133 times while making 102 pass attempts.

16. Penn State’s ‘bulldozer.’ When Levis announced his decision to leave Penn State, sportswriter Parth Upadhyaya, then of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., wrote of the QB that “oftentimes, he’d only enter games to bulldoze his way past the first-down marker in short-yardage situations.”

15. ‘I can make ... throws.’ In explaining why he left Penn State in the same article, Levis said, “I would have really liked to throw the ball more because I know I can. I know I can make all the throws.”

14. Joey Gatewood. In his two seasons (2018 and 2019) playing at Auburn (2018 and 2019), the 6-5, 221-pound product of Jacksonville, Fla., rushed the football 32 times while making only five pass attempts.

13. Auburn’s ‘short-yardage’ guy. When Gatewood announced his decision to leave Auburn, sportswriter Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports wrote of the QB: “(his) role in the offense has come in short-yardage and red-zone package formations.”

12. Limited sample size. After getting a transfer waiver for immediate eligibility last season at Kentucky, Gatewood ran the ball 25 times (gaining 62 net yards) and threw it 35 times (completing 17).

11. Kentucky’s hope. UK is banking that, with different coaching and more opportunity to demonstrate their arm talent, at least one of the transfer “running QBs” can be developed into a proficient passing quarterback by Coen and Co.

10. Corey Fipps. The University of Pikeville last week announced that it had hired Fipps, for four seasons the head football coach at Kentucky Christian, to run the Bears’ pigskin program.

9. A Hal Mumme tie. In 2014, Fipps served as the co-offensive coordinator at Belhaven University under Mumme, the ex-Kentucky coach known for his risk-taking style — and disdain for punting the football.

8. A fan assurance. In spite of his Mumme background, Fipps assured Pikeville fans at his introductory news conference last Tuesday that “I do punt.”

7. Ronnie Baker. The former Ballard High School sprint star qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics by finishing second in the 100-meters dash (9.85 seconds) Sunday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

6. An upset of Henry Clay. Baker drew statewide attention in 2011 as a high school junior when he upset two-time defending state champion Brandon Nichols of Henry Clay to win the 400 meters in the Kentucky High School 3A State Championship Meet.

5. Two unusual ‘doubles.’ In both the 2011 and 2012 Class 3A State Championship Meets, Baker won the 100-meter dash and the 400-meter dash — yet the same runner beat him both years in the 200 meters.

4. James Quick. The then-Trinity High School football star and future Louisville Cardinals wide receiver outran Baker in the Class 3A State Championship Meet at 200 meters in both 2011 and 2012.

3. Kendra Harrison. After a crushing disappointment in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, the former Kentucky Wildcats track star is bound for her first Olympics after winning the 100-meter hurdles (12.47 seconds) Sunday at this year’s trials.

The family of former Kentucky Wildcats track star Kendra Harrison as it appeared in 2012. Front row, from left: Bo, Eimy (daughter-in-law), Kara, Gabi and Victor. Middle row: Parents Gary and Karon; Casey, Mike (son-in-law) and Tasha. Back row: JoJo, Cory, Hyung, Kipp and Kendra. (Photo submitted).
The family of former Kentucky Wildcats track star Kendra Harrison as it appeared in 2012. Front row, from left: Bo, Eimy (daughter-in-law), Kara, Gabi and Victor. Middle row: Parents Gary and Karon; Casey, Mike (son-in-law) and Tasha. Back row: JoJo, Cory, Hyung, Kipp and Kendra. (Photo submitted).

2. The pain of 2016. Harrison had been a medal-favorite in the 100 hurdles in the run-up to the Rio Olympics only to fail to qualify for the U.S. team after finishing an inexplicable sixth at the trials. Two weeks later, she set the world record in the 100-meter hurdles (12.20 seconds), a mark that still stands.

1. A story made for the Olympics. Harrison comes from a multi-ethnic family of 11 children, nine of which — including Harrison — are adopted. Parents Gary and Karon Harrison’s family includes children who are Korean, Bolivian, Black and white.

In Tokyo, the media will be hard-pressed to find a story with more “feel-good” elements than Keni Harrison’s.

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