Fifteen games into Terry Wilson’s career at Kentucky, a torn left patellar tendon ended his run as UK’s starting quarterback … and made it time to get to know the new starter, Sawyer Smith. Yes, Smith played at Troy, is a grad transfer to UK and threw 9 passes against EMU on Saturday. But here’s a little bit of a deeper dig on UK’s newest field general.

UK stole him from Alabama … baseball

Yes, Smith was initially determined to follow his order brother, Austen, to the University of Alabama. The catch is that Austen was a Tide baseball star (and a 33rd-round draft pick of the Marlins who played 2 years in their minor league system). As a prep sophomore, Sawyer, an outfielder/pitcher, committed to the Tide. But he grew to love football, telling the Pensacola News Journal, “I never really felt any pressure in football. Nobody in our family was really good at football.” Once he flipped to football, Smith committed to Central Florida, then eventually signed with Troy, and later followed a winding path to Lexington.

Give an assist to a former Wildcat for Smith

Smith played well as a sophomore at Troy, taking over the team midseason after a dual-threat QB suffered a season-ending leg injury. But Smith graduated and Troy’s head coach (former UK Wildcat wide receiver and later offensive coordinator Neal Brown) took the head coaching job at West Virginia. Brown brought Smith to Troy. When he moved on, so did Smith, just after UK backup Gunnar Hoak decided to transfer to Ohio State. But if Brown hadn’t switched jobs, Smith might well still be playing in Alabama. If Brown hadn’t nabbed Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall to run his offense at West Virginia, Smith might be the signal-caller for the Mountaineers.

There were other UK connections for Smith at Troy

Neal Brown wasn’t the only UK-related connection Smith made in his 3 seasons at Troy. Former UK quarterback Mark Perry was the director of football operations at Troy in 2017. He left that job to coach at Lexington Catholic High, where he helped tutor UK commit Beau Allen, and then ultimately became a quality control assistant at UK. Similarly, new UK linebacker coach (and former Wildcat) Jon Sumrall was an assistant at Troy from 2015-2017. Smith has indicated that he grew particularly close with Sumrall and his family during his time at Troy.

Angling with Kash?

Smith’s biography tends to be fairly bare-bones, but in an interview from his senior year of high school, he admits that his main hobbies at that time were fishing and hunting. Of course, fellow Wildcat linebacker Kash Daniel is semi-famous as a fisherman himself, so if an offense vs. defense fishing competition ever breaks out, Smith might have met his match.

He wants to coach

Part of the basis for Smith’s decision to attend Kentucky was rooted in his intended career after football — coaching. “I want to be a football coach one day and this kind of gives me more connections,” Smith told The Cats’ Pause of his choice of Kentucky. For a player who has been singled out by his coaches for his copious amounts of note-taking, Smith might be well on his way.

One more Kentucky connection

In Smith’s final game at Troy, he was the MVP of the Dollar General Bowl, in which Troy beat Buffalo 42-32, due in large part to Smith passing for 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dollar General, well before the days when the company was naming bowl games, originated in … wait for it … Kentucky, specifically the small town of Scottsville.

Just one more way in which Smith’s opportunity in Lexington represents his young career coming full circle.