Former Greenwood quarterback Jeff Witthuhn, now a freshman walk-on at the University of Kentucky, will travel with the injury-plagued Wildcats on Saturday for their game at Arkansas.
UK coach Joker Phillips, a Franklin native, confirmed during his Monday news conference that Witthuhn will join the team for the road trip.
Sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith, the team’s starting signal-caller, is out after having ankle surgery. Freshman QB Patrick Towles, who played for the first time last weekend against Mississippi State, is out this week and now week-to-week with a high ankle sprain, Phillips told reporters Monday.
That leaves the Wildcats with two scholarship options – freshman Jalen Whitlow, the likely starter at Arkansas, and senior Morgan Newton.
In order to create some depth behind Newton, who’s had shoulder issues, Witthuhn will be along for the ride, Phillips said.
Witthuhn is the only other quarterback on the roster. He’s not available for comment, as it’s UK’s team policy to deny interview requests for freshman that haven’t played in a game.
“Again, (Newton’s) got to be the backup with us only having two – and then we’ll take, on the road with us, a young redshirt, or I mean a true freshman, another true freshman, Witthuhn,” Phillips said. “So we’ll have three quarterbacks there, three guys that, two that have played and one that has not played. But we just feel like we have to take Witthuhn with us to help us get out of the game, possibly.”
The 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound Witthuhn threw for 1,527 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Greenwood in 2011 and rushed for 576 yards and 14 scores.
“He wanted to go to UK and give it a try, and he always thought he could compete at quarterback,” Greenwood coach Greg Cavanah said Monday. “I hope injuries stay away from them, but I’m tickled to death for him. It’s a great opportunity, and I know Jeff will take full advantage of it.”
But does Phillips think Witthuhn is ready for the opportunity? The coach answered that by poking a little fun at Witthuhn’s facial hair, which he donned as a full beard throughout his senior season at Greenwood.
“I know last week (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) Randy (Sanders) had three quarterbacks in his quarterback warm-ups, and none of them were shaving except for Witthuhn, and he had been shaving since the sixth grade or so,” Phillips said, laughing.
Kentucky kicks off at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday at Arkansas.