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Now healthy, UK quarterback Wilson ‘locked in’ going into season opener at No. 8 Auburn on Saturday

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

University of Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson has been in a zone this fall and hasn’t spent much time looking back.

“I’ve just been really locked in, knowing my assignment and controlling what I can control and focusing on what I can focus on,” he said. “I’ve just been locked in and not thinking too much about Saturday, just taking it one day at a time and just preparing (for the game).”

The Kentucky senior quarterback will be making his first start in more than a year when the 23rd-ranked Wildcats take on No. 8 Auburn on Saturday in the season opener for both teams. Wilson missed most of last season after suffering a knee injury against Eastern Michigan in the second game.

Terry Wilson

Now that he’s 100 percent healthy, Wilson is fully “ready to play” football again.

“I’m not thinking about my leg, I feel like my leg is pretty fine,” he said. “I have full confidence in my leg and I had this whole camp to be able to get used to it. I’m just ready to get out there. I’m not thinking about anything that’s going to be difficult.”

Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran has been impressed with Wilson’s progression during preseason workouts but admitted the player-coach partnership will be like starting all over again in the opener.

“It’s going to be interesting for Terry,” Gran said. “He’s going to be nervous and it’s my job to make sure he feels comfortable in everything that we’re calling and what we’re doing. I will get a feel for him as we’re going, just like I did two years ago with him.”

Wilson’s comeback won’t be complete until he takes his first snap under center at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“It’s going to be important for him to get back into a stadium and get that feeling (again) and the heart racing,” Gran said. “The guys around him will really help him and I want to see him manage the game and put us in a position to win this football game.”

Wilson agreed and added getting tackled for the first time will bring back a feeling of familiarity on the field.

“I feel like, after that first hit, I’ll be back to normal,” he said. “When you get back on the field, it’s time to go. You don’t have that much time to think about anything.”

UK’s Terry Wilson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Eastern Michigan last year. (Photo by Tammie Brown, Kentucky Today)

During a shortened spring practice, Wilson hit a lull, but after a two-week period, he quickly recovered. Gran said “there was something that happened” and everything started clicking again.

“He started feeling a lot better, he was moving around faster and he was getting stronger. That gave him confidence,” Gran said. “(In fall camp) you see him take off and run and you could see the explosiveness and see him go. I think it was just him gaining confidence as (his knee) healed up and what our trainers did (to help) get him ready to go.”

Gran also has been impressed with Wilson’s ability to protect the football this fall.

“He really has done a good job taking care of the ball,” Gran said. “I’ve been really excited about the part. Now it’s going to be when everything is going in a game-like situation, do I pull the trigger and do I find the open guy and then creating. He’ll create with his legs and I’m excited to see what he’s ready to do.”

Although Wilson isn’t ranked among the top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference despite a 12-3 record as a starter, he’s focused on leading the Wildcats to a successful season.

“I’m just trying to be the best quarterback that I can be for this team,” Wilson said. “I don’t really think about the rankings or anything, I’m just preparing for this game.”

And he’s also preparing for whatever comes his way.

“My mom told me it’s going to be hard to watch, but everything is going to be fine,” he said.

GAMETRACKER: Kentucky at Auburn, Saturday, noon. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com.

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