Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood commits to UK
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks about how his team managed to dominate rival Louisville for the Governor’s Cup.
Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal
LEXINGTON – Kentucky football’s quarterback room was decimated by injuries to the point it needed a wide receiver to play the position this season.
Now Wildcat coaches are working to ensure there is never a lack of talented options in the future by adding former Auburn quarterback Joey Gatewood as a transfer. Gatewood, a former four-star recruit, announced the news in an Instagram post Thursday.
Gatewood appeared in seven games as a redshirt freshman for Auburn this season, rushing 148 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and completing 5 of 7 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, before announcing he would transfer in October.
The Jacksonville, Florida native is expected to sit out the 2020 season per NCAA transfer rules. While the NCAA has granted several high profile transfers waivers in recent years to play immediately at their new school, it is unlikely Gatewood would be granted one since he is not transferring closer to home and Auburn is on Kentucky’s schedule next season.
Gatewood would then have two seasons of eligibility remaining for Kentucky starting in 2021. By then, UK quarterback Terry Wilson will have graduated. The Wildcats hold a commitment from four-star Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen in the 2020 class, but he would be a redshirt freshman in 2021 if Wilson returns from a knee injury to start next season as expected, placing two years of eligibility between Gatewood and Allen.
As a high school senior, the 247Sports Composite, which averages the ratings of the major recruiting services, ranked Gatewood as the No. 49 recruit in the class of 2018.
Kentucky lost Wilson to a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the season then saw backup Sawyer Smith go down with wrist and shoulder injuries, forcing the staff to move wide receiver Lynn Bowden to the position. Freshman quarterback Nik Scalzo, who was receiving third-team reps in preseason camp, tore his ACL for a second time in August.
Before Gatewood was scheduled to take his official visit to UK for the Tennessee game in early November, Stoops confirmed the 2018 injures had reinforced the need to have multiple talented quarterback options available at any time.
In addition to Allen and Gatewood, Kentucky could have senior Walker Wood and third-year sophomores Scalzo and Amani Gilmore as scholarship quarterbacks on the 2021 roster, though it would be little surprise to see at least one transfer after the Gatewood addition. Gilmore is also planning to play baseball in the spring.
“We feel good with the guys that we’ve recruited, but that position is a big-time development position and I think it’s fair to say at that position – all of them really, but at that position — you don’t know exactly what you have until you get under center and you get in game-like situations and all those bullets are flying,” Stoops said. “Some guys really rise to the occasion and really exceed your expectations and others maybe don’t have as good of vision as you need to. There’s a lot going on. It’s a hard position.”
While Gatewood’s recruiting hype will make him the favorite to start for Kentucky when eligible, he is not a finished product as a Southeastern Conference-caliber quarterback and could use the year of practice to develop.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix beat Gatewood for the Tigers’ starting job in part because he was a more accurate passer.