Redemption for Will Levis sweet as Citrus


Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) celebrates a game winning interception being confirmed during the UK vs Iowa VRBO Citrus Bowl football game on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. UK won 20-17. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

From Big 10 backup to Citrus Bowl champion—Kentucky quarterback Will Levis bet on himself and it payed off for himself and his teammates as they took down Iowa 20-17 Saturday afternoon.

“A year ago this time, I was in a really difficult place and I was looking for an answer from God,” Levis said. “It’s like, what I was going to do? Whether to stay at [Penn State]—ironically enough, those feelings kind of started settling in after I got yanked in the Iowa game.” 

Penn State was still finding their identity when Iowa came to town last season. Levis was awarded the start and despite completing 13-16 passes against the Hawkeyes for 106 yards and taking 15 rushes for 34 more, he was benched and would throw just eight passes for the rest of his career as a Nittany Lion. 

Shortly after the season, Levis threw his name into the transfer portal and quickly became a major target for Mark Stoops and company. It didn’t take long for Levis to make his decision and inked his name on the dotted line in Kentucky blue. 

His goal this season was to be a leader to his team and as captain, feels like he did that to the best of his ability.

“Getting benched doesn’t feel good and having to think about what I want to do and to come [to Kentucky] and to make the decision, depending on myself, trusting God’s way, coming here and to be a leader for this team, it makes it so easy when I’ve got guys [like Wan’Dale Robinson and DeAndre Square] out there. It’s just being my best and trying to do my best to lead these guys however I can be at those moments.”

Levis finished his first season at Kentucky completing 233 of 353 passes (66 percent), 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions through the air while taking 107 rushes for 376 yards and nine scores as well.

Just as ironic as Levis getting benched against Iowa—his first bowl game experience was in the Citrus Bowl in 2019—against Kentucky. Levis saw first hand the beginning of the new standard of Kentucky football under Mark Stoops.

“A lot of guys before us going back a few years that [DeAndre] Square has played with had really built the foundation for what the program’s been able to do right now, so big thanks to them,” Levis said. “… That’s what the standard is now and we have to hold everyone else to the standard on the team.”

Levis hopes the freshman, the sophomores and even the incoming recruiting class next season will see this performance and know the high level of expectations for them over their collegiate career, just as the Benny Snell Jr.’s and Josh Allen’s of Kentucky football past did for them today.

“It’s a great [recruiting] class, but we’ve got to make sure that they come in with a positive attitude, looking to learn and get better because they want to be a part of an even more bigger step to the next level, whether it’s a New Year’s Six ball game, College Football Playoff, SEC championship—[they will see] how we need to take it up a notch,” Levis said.

With Levis returning to Lexington for at least one more season, he’s sure to implement that knowledge in his younger teammates on both sides of the ball—setting the standard of a football program that’s only getting started.