Amid injury reports, UK football coach Mark Stoops offers an update on star QB Will Levis

Brett Dawson
Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops has a policy, and he’s sticking to it. 

So when the Kentucky football coach was asked Thursday about the health status of quarterback Will Levis entering Saturday’s game against South Carolina, he leaned on his tradition and didn’t reveal much about his QB. 

“My policy is always if somebody is out, I’ll tell you,” Stoops said. “I don’t have anybody out. If I had somebody out, I’d tell you.”

That doesn't mean Levis will play. Stoops noted that it was only Thursday and "I don’t know anybody that can predict the future."

Reports that Levis could miss Saturday’s game — the ESPN broadcast of UK’s loss at Ole Miss last Saturday indicated that he had an ankle injury in addition to the apparent dislocated finger on his left, non-throwing hand, with Kentucky Sports Radio also reporting Levis was dealing with an injury that could sideline him — caused significant movement Thursday in Saturday’s betting line. 

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Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Linebackers J.J. Weaver and Jacquez Jones also have not been ruled out for Saturday’s game, though Jones — injured last week against Ole Miss — is “highly doubtful” to play, Stoops said. Weaver has not played since suffering a first-quarter injury against Youngstown State on Sept. 17.

But Levis is the biggest question mark. 

The No. 7 prospect and No. 3 quarterback in ESPN’s 2023 NFL Draft rankings, Levis has completed 97 of 141 passes this season for 1,405 yards and 12 touchdowns with four interceptions. His QB rating of 174.92 ranks ninth among FBS quarterbacks.

At his weekly news conference Monday, Stoops said Levis’ finger was “fine,” though he quickly conceded that’s a relative status. 

“I mean, how would your finger be if it was sideways and you put it back in?” Stoops said. “But it doesn’t need surgery, let’s put it that way. So that’s a great thing.” 

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Stoops didn’t address any other Levis injuries.

Kaiya Sheron is next up at quarterback for Kentucky football

If Levis can’t play, it’s expected that Kaiya Sheron, a redshirt freshman from Somerset High School, would get the start. 

The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Sheron was in a battle throughout preseason with Iowa transfer Deuce Hogan for the backup spot, and though Hogan was listed as the second-stringer in the season opener, Kentucky’s most recent depth chart lists Sheron “or” Hogan behind Levis, with Sheron listed first. 

Sheron was a three-star recruit in the high school class of 2021, according to the 247Sports Composite ranking. He was the No. 62 quarterback and No. 921 prospect in the class, according to the composite. 

Stoops on Thursday said he feels “good” about the state of his backup QBs. 

“You never know until you get into a game, until they’re pressed into that situation,” Stoops said. “You could say that about a lot of players, but I think it’s very real with quarterbacks, with all they have to do. You may see somebody that looks just absolutely gorgeous in seven-on-seven, throwing on air and things. When all the moving pieces happen, I think that’s when you get a true indicator of what you have at quarterback.”

Kentucky will host South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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