It wasn’t long ago that Will Levis wasn’t on anyone’s radar—and neither were the Kentucky Wildcats. But the quarterback who formerly played the do-it-all “Lion” role at Penn State and the team seem to be a perfect match, and things have taken off to this point as Kentucky has opened the season 3-0 in Liam Coen’s quarterback-friendly offense.
It’s easy to be wary of a signal-caller that was asked to do multiple things in a Taysom Hill-type of role. Why? Because so many of those players have been labeled under the ‘gadget’ category because they share a common trait: they’re subpar passers.
While Levis has shown to have the same type of mobility and bears the same type of standout physical traits that these types of players do, he’s also shown to be a much more adequate passer than those types of players hardly ever seem to be—and he’s making an early case to potentially be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, if not a top-10 quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class as well.
Rather than his versatility, Levis seemed to first garner the most attention this offseason from his coaches for his arm as well as his leadership ability—something that seems to get overlooked in the evaluation process but shows to be much more important than a lot of other things down the line.
"I want to be very careful in how I say this. I've been around a lot of quarterbacks ... Will is one of the strongest arms I've been around," UK associate head coach Vince Marrow told reporters ahead of the season. "He wasn't in spring so this is our first time working with him. His accuracy has been pretty good that's why he won the job. His deep balls are very good. The ball just comes out."
Three games into the year, it’s been so far so good for the most part for Levis. He’s certainly been more than most expected him to be, finishing Week 1 as one of the most highly-graded quarterbacks in the Power 5.
He spent time working on his mechanics among other things coming into this season, and they do look improved. As a passer, he doesn’t show much fear, which can be both a positive and a negative depending upon the situation, but it’s typically better to have a quarterback who isn’t afraid to throw it as opposed to one who is too conservative and waits too long.
He finished out the team’s latest win, a 28-23 victory over Chattanooga, with a 65.7% completion percentage with two touchdowns and two interceptions (the latter he’d like to have back, of course, as they were of his own doing even though he seemed to settle in and get better afterward). You kind of get the sense the Wildcats came into that game maybe subconsciously playing down to UTC, which could be considered a “lesser” opponent to a Kentucky team that looked good and had been much more efficient in the first two games.
Levis didn’t call the narrow win a “wake-up call” for the team for no reason, after all.
Over the first three games, Levis has completed 51-of-79 passes for 800 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. It will be interesting to see just how much Levis continues to develop as a quarterback and if he can become the type of rising quarterback that some have projected he could be.
The road to proving that continues as Levis and the Wildcats face their second SEC opponent of the season in South Carolina on Saturday.