Vaught's Views: Amid rumors Towles could transfer, father says Kentucky QB is frustrated
Patrick Towles, the headliner in Kentucky's most recent recruiting class, is fourth on the depth chart at quarterback, and his father says the freshman hasn't been given a chance to compete for playing time. (Clay Jackson / September 24, 2012)
Towles, Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2011, is currently No. 4 on Kentucky’s quarterback depth chart behind sophomore Maxwell Smith, senior Morgan Newton and freshman Jalen Whitlow. Coach Joker Phillips recently said Towles likely would be redshirted, something that Towles was told during his recruitment that would not happen.
So what is going on with Towles?
“He still thinks he can help right now,” said Terry Towles, the freshman quarterback’s father. “He just has not gotten an opportunity. He has not been part of a competition. He’s had a few reps in practice, and that’s it.
“I think his spirit is kind of broken, but he is trying to stay positive. He’s a religious, positive kid. He prays a lot and stays ready. He just wants to compete and still believes he can help this team now. To say this is frustrating is putting it mildly.”
It has to be frustrating for someone with Towles’ ability.
Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth had two sons play at Highlands and helped coach Towles there. He said Towles was “as good of a high school player that I have ever been around” and indicated he thought a lot of schools would be “just sick they did not get on Patrick Towles sooner” when he committed to Kentucky.
Towles was the bellcow for Kentucky’s 2012 recruiting class. He never wavered in his commitment to UK when the Wildcats went through a losing season and other schools tried to get him to renege on his verbal pledge.
He said he was not promised playing time at Kentucky and would be OK with being redshirted if that was best for him and the program. However, he also said he expected the chance to compete for immediate playing time.
Yet several things seem to have happened. Smith took charge of the team in the summer and the offense was designed for his quick, accurate throws. Whitlow, who was recruited as an athlete and projected by most to be a wide receiver, turned heads at quarterback.
Phillips said he went with Whitlow, who has played in two games, at No. 3 behind Smith and Newton because of his ability to make plays with his feet. Don’t forget, though, that Towles has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds — just a tad slower than Whitlow — and is bigger than Whitlow.
“He’s not frustrated by the fact he’s redshirting. He’s frustrated because he feels he’s never really had a chance to compete,” Terry Towles said.
There’s also the perception that Towles might have been overrated in high school since he’s No. 4 on the depth chart. That has to bother him — as it would any highly touted player — as fans may believe he’s not as good as he was touted.
Terry Towles says no decision on transferring, or even asking for a release, has been made despite rumors that his son wants to leave. But with Kentucky sitting at 1-3 and coming off a loss to Florida in which Smith was hurt and Newton three threw interceptions in a very ineffective three quarters, you have to know Towles will be weighing his future options.
Patrick Towles would have to sit out one season if he transferred to a Division I program, meaning he would go two years without playing.
“If you are good enough to play in the NFL, you don’t need four years of playing in college. The scouts can see ability if you have it,” Terry Towles said. “But he hopes everything works out here. He wants to play at UK, and he wants to help now.
“I hope for all concerned that he’s convinced the program is moving the right direction and he has a long career, because UK is where he wants to play. But if the program is not headed the right direciton at the end of the year, certainly we will have to take a look at things.”