By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has found a potential backup quarterback with extensive playing experience who has a UK connection — he played for former UK player and offensive coordinator Neal Brown at Troy the last two seasons.
Sawyer Smith announced on Twitter that he was coming to UK as a graduate transfer — meaning he can play immediately — with two years of eligibility.
“Excited to announce that I’m going to spend my last seasons as a Graduate Transfer at THE University of Kentucky!! Words can’t begin to explain how proud my family and I are to be apart of the #BBN @UKFootball,” Sawyer posted on Twitter.
With Gunnar Hoak leaving UK as a graduate transfer for Ohio State, Kentucky had true freshmen Nik Scalzo and Amani Gilmore on the 2019 roster along with redshirt freshman Walker Wood. However, Smith started seven games for Troy last year after an injury to starter Kaleb Barker. The 6-3, 220-pound Smith passed for 1,699 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading the Trojans to victory in the Dollar General Bowl. He completed 63 percent of his passes with six interceptions and also ran for 191 yards and one score.
Terry Wilson, who also has two years of eligibility left, threw for 1,889 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2018 and ran for 547 yards. Wilson is a dual threat quarterback and having an experienced backup will allow the UK offense to operate full throttle without worrying about limiting hits on Wilson.
Smith redshirt at Troy in 2017 after playing in six games as a backup in 2016 when he threw a 47-yard touchdown strike on his first collegiate pass attempt. He was 18 of 25 for 181 yards as a freshman and ran 19 times for 73 yards, including a 41-yard run.
He played a Tate (Fla.) High School and led the team to a 27-9 mark in three years as a starter after it went 1-8 the year before he took over. He was rated as the No. 33 dual threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports and No. 36 by ESPN coming out of high school. He passed for 5,627 yards and 47 touchdowns his junior and senior seasons and rushed for 1,063 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also played baseball.
Smith is the third high-profile former Troy player to land at a new school for 2019 after Brown left to become the head coach at West Virginia. Linebacker Tron Folsom transferred to Colorado State and cornerback/kick returner Marcus Jones is going to Houston.