Patrick Towles emerges during Kentucky’s Blue-White Game

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Kentucky

For the second straight year, Kentucky hosted over 35,000 fans at their annual spring game, and the Wildcats became the SEC’s final team to conclude spring practice. The Cats are determined to avenge their 2-10 2013 record, and Mark Stoops has been on a roll in recruiting. So, this spring was crucial for overall development and improvement for the program to take that next step under Stoops.

Here are game highlights, via YouTube:

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s spring game:

Some separation: Mark Stoops tipped his hand by starting Patrick Towles with the first-team offense, and Towles did everything to back that decision up. It’s clear that by Towles starting, he was the quarterback who emerged during spring practice between the other two competitors Reese Phillips and early enrollee Drew Barker. Towles finished an efficient 11-of-15 for 126 yards. Barker finished 7-of-19 for 74 yards and one 30-yard touchdown to Demarco Robinson. Phillips finished 10-of-17 for 74 yards and two touchdowns. It’s obvious the progression Towles made over the last two seasons, and he has emerged as the favorite to win the job in fall camp. With so much gushing over Drew Barker, Towles was once Kentucky’s Mr. Football and the state’s Gatorade Player of Year, too. He just hasn’t exactly shown up until this spring.

After the game, Mark Stoops neglected to name a starter. “There’s no decision yet,” Stoops said. “I’m proud of the effort Pat has done and really liked the other two as well. The other two are great quarterbacks and certainly had some great days this spring.”

Strong backfield: Kentucky wants to the throw it around the yard 40 times per game under OC Neal Brown, but the strength will lie in this year’s backfield. Sophomore Jojo Kemp, Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard, early enrollee Mikel Horton and junior Josh Clemons — that’s four quality backs, and they were all on display Saturday. Kemp rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns, and he’s the most explosive one of the bunch. Horton added 70 yards and one touchdown, while Heard recorded 55 yards on seven carries. Clemons, however, led all ball carries with 93 yards and one touchdown.

Fans still optimistic: Kentucky’s announced attendance was 35,117. That was more than Texas, Clemson, Notre Dame and in-state rival Louisville. The fans want to see bowl games annually, and it’s clear they want a football team to support.

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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