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Kentucky still deciding among 4 QB candidates

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm •  Published: August 8, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops would like to announce his starting quarterback within the next week.

His four candidates for the job aren't making that decision easy.

Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown are considering junior Maxwell Smith, sophomore Patrick Towles, redshirt freshman Reese Phillips and freshman Drew Barker to put under center for the Wildcats' season opener Aug. 30 against Tennessee-Martin.

Towles, a high-profile recruit in Joker Phillips' final recruiting class before he was fired during the 2012 season, struggled early in his career.

But after a productive spring, the 6-foot-5 Kentucky native entered fall camp as the front-runner.

Stoops said each quarterback has received equal attention and repetitions since practice began Monday, though Smith has only practiced every other day while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

With each quarterback given the same opportunity to win the job, Towles said the coaching staff has turned up the heat in practice, keeping blitzes coming during all live team drills.

"The guy who's going to win the job is the guy who feels the heat the least," Towles said Friday during Kentucky's media day. "You can't feel pressure and be a quarterback in the SEC."

Smith has started 11 games in his career but said each quarterback has strengths, adding that Towles has the strongest arm, Phillips has been the most consistent and Barker has the widest set of tools despite his age.

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