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August 2, 2013

Kentucky quarterbacks to get equal reps early

Neal Brown may tire of the question eventually, but for now Kentucky's offensive coordinator is fielding it like a pro.

With the Wildcats opening football practice on Monday - and with at least a three-man race for the starting quarterback spot entering camp - Brown will continue to be grilled about UK's starter.

At Friday's Kickoff Luncheon in downtown Lexington, he wasn't answering. But he did give some insight into how he and head coach Mark Stoops will go about answering the preseason's most intriguing question.

Narrowing to one quarterback starts with what Brown called a "two spot," at least in the early stages of camp.

"When we go into our team activities, we'll have two units; we'll have the ones and the threes and the twos and the fours will be going at the same time," Brown said. "So that gives an opportunity for all four quarterbacks to get a lot of reps. They'll get equal reps with the ones. Hopefully one jumps up."

And yes, Brown said "all four quarterbacks."

Kentucky ended spring practice with no clear leader among sophomores Jalen Whitlow (who was strongest in the Blue-White spring game), Maxwell Smith (who has the most experience) and Patrick Towles (who was the most highly recruited).

But freshman Reese Phillips also was strong in the spring game after enrolling in January and will have a chance to play his way into the mix this month.

Kentucky hasn't established a timetable for naming a starter. All four quarterbacks will be available to reporters at Monday's media day and not again until sometime later in August, presumably once a starter has been named.

Stoops joked that he'd brought Brown to Friday's luncheon for the purpose of naming a quarterback. In truth, it'll take some time to find that answer.

"It's going to be based on who can get us in the end zone," Brown said. "At the end of the day, that's what's got to happen."

Ready to start
The summer, especially for first-year coaches, is filled with public appearances and speaking engagement, its calendar pages packed with chances to press flesh and rub elbows with boosters, fans and friends of the program.

Stoops is getting more comfortable on that circuit. But he seems relieved to have it end.

"I think this is it," Stoops said Friday at the Hyatt Regency. "I think this is the last luncheon and the last talk, and it's been a lot of fun. I can't tell you. But I'm ready to get to work."

That work begins in earnest this weekend as players finish reporting to campus - most veterans and newcomers already have trickled in; Stoops expects the rest by Sunday - and on Monday when practice begins.

Stoops has a message in mind for his first team gatherings over the next 72 hours. He joked Friday that it might include wearing a hardhat.

"Hard work," Stoops said. "That's been our motto. Really, I'm not into all the clichés and all the mottos and all those things, but one thing that we will be as a football team is a hard-working group, a blue-collar, fundamental football team."

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