Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is only a few practices into his first spring with the program, but he’s already pleased with the team’s options at quarterback.
While Drew Barker has been considered the favorite to win the starting job for the Wildcats, the team hasn’t yet named a starter with both Stephen Johnson and Gunner Hoak in the running.
“That’d be great,” Gran told reporters when asked if the team will have a starter named by the end of spring practices, via Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “I think they’re both — all of them, everybody that’s going in there at that position, they’re competing … We told them at the beginning there’s no depth chart; let’s compete.”
Barker is the only quarterback on the roster who was with the program in 2015, after Reese Phillips and Patrick Towles elected to transfer to Montana and Boston College, respectively. Johnson, a junior college transfer from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Hoak, an early enrollee freshman from Dublin, Ohio, both arrived on campus in January.
Despite seeing time in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and getting first team reps in practice, Barker has embraced competition with the newcomers and impressed Gran in the process.
“That’s how you want your quarterback to answer those questions, right?” Gran said. “No ducking and dodging. You better compete for the job. No starters anywhere here, so don’t ask that question. We do not have a starter yet.”
On Saturday, Gran expects to have a few more answers when he gets to watch the quarterbacks play in a scrimmage against the Kentucky defense, but for now he says he’s encouraged by the progress being made.
“I’m excited about it,” Gran said. “Bullets are flying a little bit more, and blitzes, and they seem to be not panicking. We’ve got a long way to go now, but the answer to the question is yes. I like where we’re going with it.”
Kentucky spring practice will conclude with the Blue-White Spring Game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, April 16.