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UK’s Gatewood ruled eligible, giving Stoops more options at quarterback

Mark Stoops has another option at quarterback this season.

University of Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood received a waiver and was declared eligible by the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference Wednesday night.

“We’re thankful that the SEC Presidents and Commissioner Greg Sankey took into account the unique circumstances around this season.” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

The league approved several transfer waivers on Wednesday all under a set of unique circumstances.

“It must be stated unequivocally that these approvals are solely a reflection of the unique circumstances present and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the rationale set forth by individuals seeking these waivers,” Sankey said. “These are unprecedented times in which decisions about eligibility and competitive opportunities demand consideration of the current challenges facing our student-athletes and schools as a result of COVID-19.  In a non-COVID environment, there may have been a different outcome for some of the waiver requests determined (Wednesday).”

Prior to his team’s opener at Auburn last week, Stoops said there wasn’t an agreement between the two teams to hold out Gatewood in the opener.

“There’s no agreement, no gentlemen’s agreement,” he said last week. “I’m waiting to hear back from the league because it’s from SEC to SEC school. We’re waiting to hear back from them.”

Stoops believes a change in the league’s transfer rule is imminent. Sankey added because of the “changing national landscape” when it comes to transfers, future changes need to be considered by the league.

It is evident that the current transfer bylaw must undergo a thorough review by Conference membership in the most timely manner possible and prior to the 2021-22 academic year,” he said.

Gatewood likely will move into the rotation as the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind starter Terry Wilson in Saturday’s home opener against Mississippi. Freshman Beau Allen was the backup against the Tigers last weekend.

In his first start since suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, Wilson threw for 239 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 42 yards in the opener. Wilson threw an interception and had a fumble, which led to a game-clinching touchdown in the second half.

“He knows he’s got to get better,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Wednesday. “He texted me on Sunday after he came in and got treatment. And he’s the first one man. He said, ‘Coach, I’ve got to take care of the rock. That’s my fault. I’m taking full responsibility and coach, it won’t happen again.’”

Gran appreciated Wilson’s ability to take responsibility for the two miscues.

“You got to love that from your quarterback,” he said. “It matters to him and is bothering him all day. And I said, ‘man, you’ve got to have a short-term memory.’”

Stoops said Wilson “threw the ball well” amid near misses in the passing game that could have led to big plays against the Tigers last week. He added that “there’s no excuse” for the fumble by Wilson in the fourth quarter.

“The turnovers, everybody sees,” Stoops said. “Those are very noticeable and we have to get that corrected. I believe we will. We will continue to work and continue to build on it.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.