Hartline wins UK starting job at QB



The UK starting quarterback competition has concluded.

Senior Mike Hartline won the starter’s role because he gives the Cats “the best chance to win,” UK head coach Joker Phillips announced Monday after practice.

Sophomore Morgan Newton and redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski are considered tied for the backup position, Phillips said.

“It’s great that (the team) finally knows who the quarterback is,” Hartline said. “I think it’s a very, very important thing for our offense to have. We’ve been going for two weeks here now, and we didn’t know who the definite quarterback was. So once we got that out of the way, it’s time to go to work, it’s time to push real hard for Louisville.”

Hartline had the slight edge to be the starter at the end of spring camp. Newton and Mossakowski, who Phillips said made the most progress during fall camp, pushed Hartline in fall camp.

“(Hartline) was slightly ahead at all times, there’s no question about that,” Phillips said. “But he wasn’t far ahead enough that we thought we had to make a (quick) decision. If we would have made this (decision) in the spring, or if we would have first started

in fall camp, I don’t think it would have been fair to the other guys.”

Phillips added that the decision was the toughest he has had to make at the quarterback position in his time at UK. He also said that he consulted with UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders before picking the starter.

Mossakowski was considered the outsider for the position, as he had the most ground to make up after returning from shoulder surgery in spring camp. He was less visibly disappointed by the decision when speaking to the media.

“(Hartline’s) been here for a long time, he knows the offense well, he knows the guys, everyone knows him,” Mossakowski said.

Newton, on the other hand, seemed more unhappy about the decision.

“Yeah (it’s a disappointment). You come out here and you try to compete, you try to put yourself in a position to play and when it doesn’t work out, yeah,” Newton said.

Hartline has an 8-6 record as a starter in his collegiate career, while Newton finished with a 5-3 record as a starter in the final eight games last season, including three Southeastern Conference road wins.

Newton replaced Hartline in the fifth game last year, after Hartline sustained a knee injury against South Carolina.

Phillips said Hartline, a fifth-year senior, will not see his backups get a few series in games once the season starts, assuming he isn’t struggling.

Hartline said he isn’t concerned with the potential criticism he could face from fans and critics, who haven’t seen him able to solidify his starting position in three seasons.

“I’ve been through it all.” Hartline said. “I’m ready.”

Junior quarterback Mike Hartline watches Alabama run the ball in the first half of Alabama’s 38-20 win over Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Photo by Britney McIntosh | Staff