‘Such a long way’: Terry Wilson’s journey this season and future at UK


Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson (3) throwing during warmups before the game. University of Kentucky’s football team lost to University of Tennessee, 24-7, at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, and as the historic 2018 Kentucky football regular season has come to an end, reflections of the past 12 weeks are in order: reflections on the streaks broken, streaks made, records broken, the team’s wins and the players that helped the Cats finish their regular season as a 9-3 team.

Specifically, Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson has given the fans and the media not only reasons to reflect back on his first season at UK, but to look ahead at what he brings to the table in the future.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore from Oklahoma City is fairly new to the commonwealth, but not new to football. Wilson had an athletic journey before he came to Kentucky, which included a redshirt year at Oregon before he transferred to Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas for the 2017 season. Then came his decision to come to UK— he chose to be a Wildcat over Florida and Nebraska, per UK Athletics.

Heading into the 2018 season, nobody really knew who would be the starting quarterback for Kentucky. The two frontrunners were Wilson, who was claimed to be the fast, athletic quarterback who could get yards on his feet. The other was Gunnar Hoak, who was talked about as being the one who could throw the ball.

After Wilson was announced as the starter for Kentucky’s first game, which was against Central Michigan, the sophomore struggled. He threw two picks and a fumble in the first half and injured his arm, requiring Hoak to come in and take over. Wilson ended up returning in the second half, but it was clear there was a lot of room for growth and improvement at the quarterback position.

“That’s out the way now, I know what to expect, so I just have to prepare and just play ball, don’t overthink,” Wilson said after game one.

Week two was the infamous Florida game in which the Cats broke a 31-year losing streak to the Gators and dominated the field in their 27-16 win. Wilson showed out, completing 11-of-16 passes good for 151 yards and two touchdowns, had 107 rushing yards and a score himself.

The rest of the season would bring Wilson highs, lows and everything in between as the Kentucky offense struggled as a whole, especially towards the second half of the schedule— but Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran stuck with Wilson.

Wilson proved wrong the stereotype that he was just a rushing quarterback in Kentucky’s game against Missouri when the Cats made a comeback and Wilson led his team down the field with 1:24 seconds left in the game in an eight-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a last-second victory.

Towards the end of the season, Wilson said he felt much more comfortable throwing the ball than he did at the beginning of his Kentucky career.

“I’ve sat down and watched the film, I went through every game and watched the film and I’ve seen a dramatic, dramatic change on how comfortable I am and throwing the football,” Wilson said after Kentucky’s win over Middle Tennessee.

Wilson saved his most efficient performance for last when the Wildcats took the field in Louisville to take on the Cardinals for rivalry week. The sophomore threw for 17-of-23 for 261 yards and three touchdowns, had himself one touchdown on the ground and 80 rushing yards.

“Really pleased with Terry, I felt like he did some really good things,” Stoops said after the 56-10 win. “I think he was 14-of-16 in the first half, and really put it away at the end of the first half, really played some good football down the stretch late in the second quarter…”

While the uncertainty of Benny Snell’s presence still looms in the air, Kentucky fans know for certain Wilson will be back next year, with the threats of running back A.J. Rose and wide receiver Lynn Bowden alongside him. Wilson said the Louisville game set the tone of what’s to be expected of the Kentucky offense next year.

“I feel like our offense is explosive like that all the time. Definitely in practice. We’ve just got to go out there and put the pieces together,” Wilson said.

Those pieces weren’t so easy for Wilson to put together this season— he said after watching the film of himself, his confidence and not trusting his reads kept things from flowing as they should. He said that moving forward, he’s not going to try to force too much and just “play his game.”

“He’s just come such a long way from the beginning of the season on his decisions he makes, on being more patient, and you know trusting the offensive line just to give him time,” Snell said. “I’m proud of Terry, man. He’s great. He’s amazing.”