By LARRY VAUGHT
After Joey Gatewood decided he was leaving Auburn and put his name into the transfer portal, he got a call from Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow urging him to make a visit to Kentucky.
Gatewood, a four-star quarterback in Florida when he was a top 40 rated recruit nationally, had a good first visit to UK. His host was quarterback Terry Wilson, who led UK to 10 wins in 2018 before missing all but two games last year with a knee injury.
“Terry was the one who really built the foundation and told me how things were here. Still to this day our relationship is really good. That is my man. I can’t wait to see him get better,” Gatewood said about Wilson.
Wilson hopes to be fully recovered from his knee injury this season and Gatewood is asking the NCAA for a wavier to make him eligible this season. That could lead to them competing for playing time against each other next season but Gatewood wishes nothing but the best for Wilson.
“Terry is a great guy. I am ready to see him get back to himself and play ball. He’s a dude. It speaks a lot about him being a good dude that he was my host on my visit and did play a key role in recruiting me,” Gatewood said.
Gatewood heard and read speculation that his interest in Kentucky was not genuine considering some of the options he likely would have.
“When I put my name in (the transfer portal) I was open to everybody. Kentucky was one of the first ones to hit me up. Coach Marrow is a great guy and told me, ‘Let’s get you up on official (visit)’ and I said I would be there,” Gatewood said. “He’s kind of hard to say no to. I have said no but he’s a really good dude. He really cares about you and takes his time with you.”
It apparently was not a hard sell with Gatewood. He made a second visit to Kentucky before making his commitment but never visited any other schools.
“It is on the rise. Last season was strong and the season before that was strong. There is nothing going downhill for Kentucky football. It is only up from here,” he said.
“I didn’t have to go all around the country looking at some where to play. My home is here. That was a benefit for me. I didn’t have to go anywhere else. I came to Kentucky two times and it was fine. I was looking for what was the best for my situation. The coaches kept it straight up with me, kept it real. I needed that.”
He threw for 1,468 yards and 12 scores and ran for 1,100 yards and 16 scores to help his team win the 2017 Florida Class 7A state title. He redshirted in 2018 at Auburn and then played in five games as a redshirt freshman — he completed five of seven passes for 54 yards and ran 29 times for 148 yards and three scores — before deciding to transfer.
Gatewood said it was important for him to find another SEC school to continue his career because the “SEC is full of top dogs.” He believes he can play with any of them and thinks Kentucky can play with any SEC team.
“This program is nowhere close to going downhill. It is going up and up and I expect even more in these next years,” Gatewood said. “This program is going to be one of the top programs in the nation in the coming years. I really feel like they’re on a roll and I don’t think they’re going to stop. That’s why I wanted to be here.”