A signal-caller with eyes turned toward blossoming into a Round 1 talent next spring, Kentucky’s Will Levis has all the tools in the bag to skyrocket up draft boards this fall. Levis is a Penn State transfer with dual-threat ability and traits to bet on. Plus, head coach Mark Stoops’ hiring of former San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello has invited an entirely unique outlook on the potential success of the 6-foot-3 talent in his senior campaign.
Following the departure of Liam Coen, whom Sean McVay snatched away from the Wildcat program to fill his vacant offensive coordinator role in Los Angeles, the arrival of Scangarello, an uber-experienced quarterback whisperer who has spent time with five different NFL franchises, has placed a massive spotlight on Levis moving into a year in which teams that passed on quarterbacks in 2022 could very likely address the need in 2023.
While Scangarello’s core offensive concepts don’t differ much from Coen’s—which also remained a priority of Stoops—it was a mutual relationship that brought the two together. Scangarello’s initial impression of Levis sold him on the signal-caller before they ever shook hands.
“It’s random, but I caught—I want to say it was the LSU game last year—but there was a game where we were sitting having a Saturday night dinner in the NFL before our team meetings, and Kentucky was on,” Scangarello said. “Quarterbacks catch my eye—it’s kind of what I do—and I was like ‘man, this guy’s pretty good’… It’s just something that I remembered. Then when this all happened—pretty fast—I went back and I watched Kentucky’s tape and the qualities that I would look for in a quarterback—he possesses a lot of them.”
Leading the Wildcats to just their second double-digit winning season since 1977, Levis is the straw that stirs not just the Kentucky offense, but the entirety of the program. As he goes, they go. With running back Chris Rodriguez back as a staple of the offense, further evolving Levis’ game toward the perimeter and taking the next step as a program remain the focus for Scangarello in his debut tenure.
“To play quarterback at the highest level, to me, is the toughest thing in sports to do,” Scangarello stated. “[It] requires toughness, it requires an intellect—a football intellect—processing ability, and then the physical ability to pull it off.”
Already a proven pocket passer, the ability of Levis to add the run game to his ever-deepening bag of traits has introduced a talent with a performance ceiling seemingly uncapped if all comes to fruition against SEC competition. And while he’s able to hurt you off-script or will deliver with accuracy and zip when Scangarello asks to slide the pocket, the mentorship from someone who Levis labeled a “football genius” will remain paramount to the exponential growth of one of the most fundamentally talented quarterbacks in the country.
“Even though you might think you have a good understanding of football, when you talk to someone like that you’re like, ‘I don’t know anything.’,” Levis said of his newly minted play-caller. “It’s always cool to remind myself and humble myself every time… I know how to read a defense or I know how to run a play, but when we go up to the film room, he will blow my mind with just how he explains it. I mean, he’s a football genius.”
Looked upon as an afterthought in the SEC East as recently as the 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons where the Wildcats recorded a 4-20 combined conference record to kick off Stoops’ tenure, Stoops has completely revamped the program over the last handful of years, ranking in the AP Top 25 in three of the last four seasons. And now, with Levis back and a new resounding voice in charge of leading the way on offense, the sky’s the limit with returning faces aplenty—just ask Scangarello himself.
“I think the pieces are there… [now] it’s our job to bring it together.”
- Jun 30, 2022