New and old talent will try to shine at Blue-White game


Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Gunnar Hoak drops back to pass during the blue white spring game at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, April 14, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Stadium lights will be shining on the south end of UK’s campus on April 13, but they won’t be coming from Cliff Hagan Stadium; instead, the lights will be shining at Kroger Field.

The lights might not be the only thing shining at Kroger Field on that Friday night, as the UK football team mixed with young and veteran talent will go against one another in the Blue-White spring game.

The spring game will be the only live-game action UK will see until they open their season on Sept. 1 against Central Michigan. Last year’s Blue-White game had 37,172 fans in attendance to see big performances from Sihiem King, Jamar “Boogie” Watson and Gunnar Hoak.

In this year’s spring game, a lot of eyes will be on Hoak, as he is one of teh candidates for the starting quarterback job next season. The quarterback competition, among with many other storylines, are just some things to pay attention for at the Blue-White game.

Quarterback battle

Hoak and Terry Wilson are believed to be the favorites to replace Stephen Johnson and be the starting quarterback for the Cats next season. Danny Clark and Walker Wood are also in the running for the job, and fans will see how the spring quarterback race has unfolded on Friday night.

Unless someone else has mightily impressed in practice, expect Hoak to get the first shot with the first-string offense due to his being the more experienced quarterback on the roster. Hoak impressed in last year’s spring game, completing 16-24 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns for both the blue and white squads last year.

Wilson is the prized quarterback recruit that everyone has been looking forward to seeing play. Wilson threw for 2,133 yards and 26 touchdowns in his most recent season at Highland Community College.

Head coach Mark Stoops hasn’t indicated yet whether any of the quarterbacks have separated themselves in practice, and Friday will be the first chance to see who could be Johnson’s replacement.

Wide receivers

As for whom the quarterbacks will be throwing to, the wide receiver group will be one to pay attention to on Friday night.

The wide receivers lost five lettermen from last year’s team, while the rest of the offense lost four total lettermen. The wide receivers also lost their coach Lamar Thomas, who was replaced by Michael Smith.

The returning receivers caught 52 passes last season, and the group is mostly highlighted with sophomores such as Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps and Lynn Bowden. Seeing how the receivers have reacted to their new coach and their increased role will be something to keep an eye on in the spring game and throughout the 2018 season.


Almost a polar opposite of the receiver core, UK’s defense is loaded with returning talent that has a lot of the coaches excited about its potential.

In UK’s first outdoor scrimmage of the spring, the defense reportedly dominated the offense. Last year’s starting defense only lost one starter, but it’s at a position the Cats have depth and promise in.

New guys on the block

While the spring game is meant for the veterans to knock off some rust, it’s also meant for the coaches to see how their new players react when playing under the lights in live-game action.

UK’s spring roster features six mid-year enrollees, three on the defense, two on the offense and one on special teams.

While Wilson is the biggest name associated with the new players on the team, Stanley Garner, Deandre Square and others are looking to work their way onto the field for next season. The spring game will be a chance for the new players to show the coaches what they got and that they can be trusted come fall.