Terry Wilson is back and ready to lead the Wildcats.
The 6-foot-3 senior quarterback missed most of the 2019 season with a torn patellar tendon — an injury that he suffered in just the second game of the season — and spent the remainder of the year aided by crutches on the sideline.
Now, nearly 10 months later, Wilson is back to 100%.
He shared his good news on Twitter Sunday night: “And I can finally say I’m back! And healthy!! Been a long road. 3 is ready for the tour.”
It’s great news for UK coach Mark Stoops & Co., who are looking to build off last season’s 8-5 campaign. Despite Wilson’s injury, the Wildcats were able to revamp their entire offensive scheme — putting the ball in the hands of receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden, who put up unprecedented numbers in leading UK to its fourth consecutive bowl game appearance and its second bowl victory in a row.
However, things will certainly go back to a more “normal” approach in 2020.
Bowden, who was selected with the first pick of the third round by the Las Vegas Raiders in April’s NFL Draft, did most of his damage running the ball. Last season, UK racked up 573 rushing attempts for 3,859 yards. On the flip side, the Wildcats threw the ball just 257 times for 1,478 yards.
Boiled down, Kentucky ran the ball nearly 70% of the time and got 72% of its offensive production on the ground.
That’s a far cry from before the 2019 season began, when Wilson hinted he might “throw the ball 40 times a game.”
Those preseason talks stemmed from Wilson’s sophomore campaign in 2018, when he helped UK — alongside national defensive player of the year Josh Allen and star running back Benny Snell, of course — go 10-3. That year, Wilson completed 67% of his passes for 1,889 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed for 547 yards and four TDs.
After a spring spent honing his downfield throwing with Kentucky’s deep receiving group, Wilson was feeling more confident than ever. He started the year off completing 33-of-56 passes for 360 yards and a pair of TDs, along with 44 rushing yards and another score, before going down midway through the second game on the schedule.
He was on pace for a huge leap forward, but instead those plans were derailed before they ever really got going.
Now that he’s back for his final season with the Wildcats — Wilson isn’t seeking an extra year of eligibility due to his injury — he’s got one last chance to go out on a high note.
Nothing would be sweeter for Wilson than to lead UK to a fifth consecutive bowl game, a mark that’s been accomplished only once before in school history. And, even if 2020 turns out to be a topsy-turvy season in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no reason why the Wildcats can’t take their program to new heights.
Around him, Wilson will have what’s been highly regarded as one of the best running back groups and offensive lines in all of college football. After a season spent mostly blocking downfield, I’m sure UK’s wide receivers are ready to start hauling in some downfield throws, too.
Last season, opposing defenses knew exactly what UK wanted to do and still couldn’t stop the Wildcats. Imagine what having a downfield passing game and more balance will do.
The Wildcats are obviously ready to get going again, but none are more excited than Wilson himself.
“Y’all wait and see what happens when I touch that field again,” he tweeted. “Trust me.”
If Wilson can pick up where he left off, the Wildcats are in store for yet another thrilling year.