LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Sawyer Smith is right where he wants to be for the next two seasons.
The graduate transfer spent the past four years at Troy and wanted to continue his collegiate career at the University of Kentucky, giving the Wildcats a proven backup to senior starter Terry Wilson.
Smith’s top priority when he was looking for a school was to have an impact on and off the field. He also will be majoring in sports leadership for the next two seasons.
“That’s all I can ask for, to play in the Southeastern Conference — it’s a good opportunity,” Smith said. “I just want to have a good effect on this football team and the university and just kind of have a positive impact and do what I can on the field and off the field and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it and be a quality team guy.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops likes the fact that Smith has played in “big games” and gives the Wildcats a solid backup this season. Smith started the last seven games for the Trojans last season and threw for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added 191 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“He has that experience (and) he's very poised,” the Kentucky coach said. “He can throw the ball. We needed somebody to come in and give us an opportunity to groom the young guys until we can get moving. I just was impressed with Sawyer. I like everything about him, love the way he plays, handles himself, the way he's done everything to get to this point. He's done a lot of work. He's here, up there grinding, ready to go.”
Like Stoops, Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran likes having Smith on the roster. Gran said Smith has toughness, Is smart and has the knack for releasing the ball quickly.
“Just watching that, then talking to people that coached him, what he brings to the table, and that locker room — those things are all so important when you have a guy like that that comes in from another school, transfer,” Gran said. “If you get somebody that's not right in the locker room, it can be a bad deal. So far, he's shown all that. He's fantastic to be around. He wants to learn. He's a team guy. There was a guy that was a backup, came in, led (Troy) to a lot of victories, did what the coaches asked of him. I loved really his humility, the way he approached that.”
Smith said he loves throwing the ball, but isn’t afraid to run, either.
“I love the deep ball, it’s my favorite thing to throw probably,” he said. “I (also) will kind of surprise people running the ball."
As he search for a new school following his four-year stint at Troy, Smith passed on West Virginia, where his former coach Neal Brown as hired earlier this year.
“I love that guy and I would love to play for him,” Smith said. “He got me into playing at the Division I level and got me to where I’m here and to play for him was fun at Troy, but he went his way and I did my thing.”
In his last game with Brown and the Trojans, Smith led Troy to a 42-32 win over Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl. He threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
“That was fun and probably the funnest football game that I’ve ever played in,” he said. “All the seniors I played with at Troy played good and being able to throw the ball around like I did and they caught (the football). To perform like I did …. it was a great feeling. It’s something I will always remember.”
He hopes to make even more memories with the Wildcats.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.