Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops announced Wednesday that Whitlow, a junior quarterback who started 15 games for the Wildcats during the last two seasons, has informed the staff of his intent to transfer at the end of the semester.
The news comes after UK's 10th day of spring practice with only three more workouts remaining before the Blue-White Spring Game on April 26.
"Like I said in the statement, I really appreciate Jalen. He's worked very hard for a long time, through high school and through college here and helped this university by being the best quarterback he can be, so I wish him the best of luck."
In a statement released by UK, Whitlow said "I appreciate the University of Kentucky and what the coaching staff and administration have done for me. I also thank the community and the fan support I have received here. I wish the coaches and my teammates the best of luck."
Whitlow had started 15 games for Kentucky during the last two seasons. The Montgomery, Ala., native completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,033 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore and rushed for 457 yards and six scores.
Many observers believe his dual-threat style was not an ideal fit for offensive coordinator Neal Brown's "Air Raid" offense. Complicating matters, UK signed one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the Class of 2014, U.S. Army All-American Drew Barker, in December to go along with other well-regarded players like Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Reese Phillips at the position.
Barker and Towles reportedly had strong showings during last Saturday's scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium, prompting the staff to narrow the focus of the quarterback competition and request that Whitlow consider moving to wide receiver.
"He decided it was in his best interests to go somewhere else and play QB," Stoops said. "That's where his heart is and that's what he wants to do, so I understand that."
"Great kid. Love the kid," Brown said. "Appreciate everything he's done for the program. I want to make sure that we understand that our lack of success last year, he only played a minor role in that. We didn't do enough as coaches and at other position groups (to help him succeed)."
Kentucky went 2-10 last season and 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference, ranking 13th out of 14 teams in scoring offense (20.5 ppg), 13th in total offense (341.3 ypg) and 10th in passing offense (193.4 ypg).
The UK staff declined to comment on where the other quarterbacks rank on the new depth chart, but noted that they intend to make a decision on a starter much sooner than last season, when the question hovered over the team well into the start of the season.
Brown did note, however, that Saturday was the best day of quarterback play he has seen since joining the UK staff.
"Jalen made strides. He was better this spring than he was in the fall," Brown added. "But the other three guys who are competing are better, too, and maybe they made bigger strides.
"This wasn't premeditated. As we went through our nine practices, it was clear... It came down to consistently making throws."