‘Tis the season for quarterbacks fleeing SEC football programs en masse, apparently.
Shortly after Texas A&M confirmed that Matt Joeckel, a potential starter in 2014, was leaving the Aggies, Kentucky announced that Jalen Whitlow, a bonafide starter in 2013, has decided to do the same when it comes to the Wildcats. Whitlow started 15 games the past two seasons, including eight in 2013, and entered spring practice, at least as far as the media and the fans were concerned, as UK’s unquestioned starter under center.
However, at a press conference shortly after the surprising announcement of Whitlow’s impending departure, head coach Mark Stoops confirmed that the decision was made after the player was talked to about changing positions. Specifically, the coaching staff asked Whitlow to move to wide receiver. The quarterback declined, instead opting to move on elsewhere for his remaining two seasons of eligibility.
“We respect Jalen and his decision as we want the best for him,” Stoops said in a statement released prior to his talk with the media. “I thank Jalen for his contributions to the team. I want everyone to understand how hard he has worked and the effort he has given since our staff has been here.”
The past two seasons, Whitlow has thrown for 1,831 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also contributed nine touchdowns on the ground.
Coming out of high school in Prattville, Ala., Whitlow was rated as a three-star recruit and listed as an “athlete” by Rivals.com.
“I appreciate the University of Kentucky and what the coaching staff and administration have done for me,” the player said in his statement. “I also thank the community and the fan support I have received here. I wish the coaches and my teammates the best of luck.”
With Whitlow no longer a part of the equation, UK’s group at the position will include the veteran but oft-injured Maxwell Smith; Patrick Towles and Drew Barker, four-star members of UK’s 2012 and 2014 recruiting classes, respectively; and redshirt freshman Reece Phillips.