Will Mark Stoops' Kentucky Wildcats go the juco route for quarterback help?

Those listening closely to the comments of Mark Stoops and new offensive assistants Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw on Monday may have heard hints that Kentucky is closing in on a new quarterback target in the Class of 2016.

After losing Patrick Towles and Reese Phillips to transfers at the end of a tumultuous season, the Wildcats find themselves with only one scholarship quarterback, Drew Barker, on the current roster. Ohio high school star Gunnar Hoak, a member of the 2016 class, plans to enroll this month and be ready for spring practice, but UK is still dangerously thin at the position.

It sounds like the staff may take the juco route, and all signs point to Stephen Johnson from College of The Desert in California as the primary target. On Tuesday, AllWildcats’ Patrick Loney reported that the three-star prospect plans to visit Lexington on Jan. 14 and make a decision fairly soon since the deadline for enrolling for the spring semester is rapidly approaching.

Johnson (6-3, 200, 4.5) had a tremendous 2015 season, completing 58 percent of his passes for 3,210 yards with 34 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He also rushed for 429 yards and eight scores, elevating his recruiting profile and leading to a December scholarship offer from UK to go along with previous offers from Hawaii, Eastern Michigan, Arkansas State, Morgan State and Florida A&M, among others.

The Ranco Cucamonga, Calif., native originally signed with Grambling and played one year for the Tigers after redshirting his first season. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining at his next school.

Inconsistent quarterback play was a big part of UK's disappointing 5-7 season. The Wildcats threw only 10 touchdown passes while tossing 16 interceptions. After Towles was benched, Barked started the final two games of the season, completing 35 of 70 passes for 364 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.

Stay tuned to AllWildcats as Johnson’s visit draws closer.

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