UK Football: Former QB Woodson eager to see freshman Towles at practice
UK freshman quarterback Patrick Towles is shown playing for Highlands against Boyle County last season. (Clay Jackson / July 30, 2012)
“Just from the highlights you can tell how much talent he has. He showcases a lot of ability with running, throwing it, leadership skills,” said Woodson, a graduate assistant coach who works with the quarterbacks. “I think the kids right now really like him a lot.
“When we get to go into camp, it will be interesting to see how much we can really throw at him at one time. Usually with young quarterbacks it is difficult for them to pick up really quick, but I think the kind of kid he is and what he has been showing so far is that he is willing to take that challenge and overcome that. He is a SEC quarterback and ready to compete.”
Towles was named a Parade All-American and Kentucky’s Mr. Football after completing 171 of 279 passes for 3,820 yards and 42 touchdowns with just one interception in 2011. He also rushed for 589 yards and 15 scores to help lead Highlands to its third straight state championship.
During his career he passed for 7,429 yards and 73 touchdowns and ran for 38 scores and 1,718 yards, reasons he was ranked among the nation’s top high school 10 quarterbacks by several recruiting services last year.
He was coached at times at Highlands by former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen as well as former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth. He’s also the grandson of baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.
“I can’t wait to help coach him,” Woodson said. “I think kids like him is what makes coaching fun. Obviously they get a thrill out of competing and are just naturally born like that. They just want to do what it takes.
“And if you have a kid who is really young and doing really well, then you have seniors and juniors that know this kid is right behind them and competing so they have to step it up even more. They need to get in the film room, work with the receivers more. It just makes the team better if everyone is truly competing with each other and trying to get each other better and develop into better players. Patrick will bring that to our team.”
Memories: Woodson says he has “bad ones, but also some great ones” when it comes to memories of the Kentucky-Louisville series that resumes Sept. 2 when the Wildcats play at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Woodson threw a late touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson in 2007 to give UK an upset win over Louisville in one of the most dramatic games in the series. However, he now has a sense for the bigger picture about the game.
“I think the great thing about it is that so many people take this rivalry serious. Every time you think about this game there are so many memories you can think of,” Woodson said. “The guys give everything they have. The entire state really comes together for football. It is a time to go out there and put everything you worked for on the line.
“It is a great rivalry and over the last five years it is building even more. I think with both of these coaches now they are doing a wonderful job trying to revive this rivalry and get it to a point where that is what people really look to all through the season and year. They look forward to watching Kentucky play Louisville all through the year and watching those two teams battle it out. I’ve learned to appreciate more what this game means to the whole state.”