Hornung award ends great month for Towles

LOUISVILLE — Patrick Towles admits it is a bit hard to comprehend just how good the last month has been for him.

The Highlands quarterback led the Bluebirds to a fourth straight state championship and earned Associated Press first-team all-state honors. He was named the Gatorade Player of the year in Kentucky as well as Kentucky's Mr. Football by the state's media members. SportsIllustrated.com had him on its All-America honorable mention list.

He also was named the Paul Hornung Award recipient and was in Louisville Wednesday to receive that honor from the Louisville Quarterback Club.

Towles threw for 3,820 yards and 42 touchdowns with only one interception and also rushed for 589 yards and 15 scores in 2011. He was 37-1 as a starter during his three-year career and passes for 7,429 yards and 73 touchdowns.

"It could not have been a much better month," said Towles, who made his official visit to Kentucky last weekend and plans to sign with the Wildcats in February. "It's such an honor to get these awards and a treat for my teammates and coaches to know they are responsible for me getting these awards.

He knows former Mr. Football winners like Jared Lorenzen, Frank Jacobs and Shaun Alexander, all northern Kentucky players, went on to play in the NFL. However, he's also appreciative of being named the Paul Hornung Award winner just as former Highlands teammate Austin Collinsworth, who now plays at Notre Dame, did two years ago.

"I have a signed picture of him (Hornung) and (former Green Bay coach) Vince Lombardi in my room," Towles aid. "I?think my mom got it from my grandpa (former major league baseball pitcher and U.S. Senator Jim Bunning). I know Paul Hornung played at Notre Dame had a great career in the NFL. It's a big deal to get an award like this. It's an honor to be mentioned with a player like Hornung."

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is glad he can mention Towles as one of his future players. He's the in-state bellcow for this recruiting class and his official visit only convinced him even more that the decision he made to play for Kentucky months ago was the best possible decision for him.

"My official visit was wonderful. I felt like I?got so much closer with the coaches," Towles said. "I also have a really good relationship with a bunch of recruits that were there."

He says offensive coordinator Randy Sanders can't give him any workout plans until he signs, but Towles said he is "excited about getting down to Kentucky and everything that will happen next year." He also credited former Boyle County coach Chuck Smith, UK's recruiting coordinator, for helping persuade him to come to UK.

"My recruiting started slowly and coach Smith was paramount in getting me to Kentucky and on campus," Towles said. "He's one big reason I came to Kentucky."

Towles is not naive. He knows the honors he has won help Kentucky's recruiting.

"My honors definitely don't hurt. It's great for Kentucky to get in-state recruits that can compete in the SEC. We need the best to compete in the SEC," Towles, who thanked numerous family members who came to Louisville Wednesday and also specifically named the offensive linemen who blocked for him, said.

Towles made his decision months before his high school season started. Yet time after time — especially when UK?lost games and the offense stalled — he was questioned about his commitment to Kentucky.

"I always felt part of the program because there was talk about my commitment all year. I committed in April and have been fully on board since then," Towles said. "Growing up, I was a Kentucky fan. You can never be 50 or 75 percent in. I?am all in forever.

"It was no surprise people kept asking me about Kentucky. The media was always looking for a story and trying to get whatever they could. I probably did not give them the answer they were looking for, but I?gave the answer coach Phillips and coach Sanders were looking for and those are the two guys I?care about.

"I love talking about the future at Kentucky. One thing I got to do in high school was lead our offense and lead our football team and I can continue to do that at Kentucky. I don't want a guaranteed spot. I just want the opportunity to compete for a job and coach Phillips has said I will have that. That win Kentucky got over Tennessee to end the season was awesome. For all recruits that were kind of wavering on Kentucky, that should have shown Kentucky football is ready to compete in the SEC." His grandfather certainly is a believer.

"I am so proud of Pat in everything he has accomplished. He's a pleasure to watch play," Bunning said. "If you doubt me, who up at Kentucky and you will have no doubts because he can do anything with a football that is possible to be done."

Bunning said he'll make every road trip during Towles' career and made a bold prediction to the Louisville Quarterback Club.

"I am going to Florida and Kentucky is going to beat Florida in the four years he is there at least twice," Bunning said. "I am going to be there to root him on every time."

AllWildcats Top Stories