ATHENS — The Joey Gatewood Era at Kentucky will begin at noon on Saturday when the Wildcats take the field against No. 5-ranked Georgia.
“He has the keys,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said per a KSR report. “He’s the starting quarterback.”
The 6-foot-5, 221-pound Gatewood replaces Terry Wilson, who reportedly has a sore wrist.
Gatewood was rated the No. 1 athlete in the nation and an Elite 11 quarterback in the 2018 Class. He chose Auburn over offers from Alabama, Clemson and Florida, among several others coming out of Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
The SEC issued a blanket waiver allowing all players transferring with conference, including Tennessee lineman Cade Mays and Gatewood, the second week of the season amid unprecedented COVID-19 circumstances.
Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs will stick with former walk-on and junior college QB Stetson Bennett as the starter after the UGA bye week. Bennett will be making his fourth start after getting all the snaps with the ones during the bye week.
Smart said former 5-star USC quarterback JT Daniels and former 4-star Ohio State QB commit D’Wan Mathis both had good weeks of practice, too.
Gatewood is less experienced than Daniels or Bennett, just 2-of-5 passing for 12 yards in three appearances this season with 8 carries for 34 yards.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, whose defense is coming off a 41-24 loss at Alabama that saw them yield 564 yards — the most by a Bulldogs’ defense since 2013 — said they’ve done their homework on Gatewood.
“It’s hard to tell from the body of work you have on Gatewood, you have to go back to his history in high school and at Auburn,” Smart said on the SEC Coaches teleconference on Wednesday.
“He’s obviously a little bigger, more of a physical presence—probably more of an inside runner than Terry, who can run inside but has a little more speed on the perimeter. It’s horizontal versus vertical runners.”
The Wildcats (2-3) are looking to spark an offense that managed just 145 yards including just 50 yards through the air on 5 of 14 attempts in a 20-10 loss at Missouri.
“He’s definitely a big, strong guy, (and) he’s got a big arm,” Stoops said in the Thursday night KSR report. “He can make all the throws. He stands strong in the pocket. You never know with that position until you get put into the situation is how their vision and how they’re gonna go through their progressions, how they step up in the pocket and distribute the football down the field.
“From what I’ve seen from him so far, I believe that he’ll do that.
“Obviously, he can run the ball. He’s a different style than Terry. Terry is maybe a little faster top end, quicker, but Joey is one of those big, strong runners. He gets some good yards for you that way. Looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
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