Joey Gatewood transferring from Kentucky after Will Levis named starting quarterback


Former Auburn quarterback Joey Gatewood is now looking for a third school.

Gatewood will enter the NCAA transfer portal for a second time, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said on Sunday. Stoops named Will Levis the Wildcats’ starting quarterback for the Sept. 4 season-opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe, adding that Gatewood had chosen to leave the program.

“I told him how much I appreciated how hard he’s worked. I know he’s been through this before so I knew it would be especially tough. Tough decision, not what he wanted to hear,” Stoops said, via 247 Sports. “We had that discussion, had a good talk. He handled it completely professional and really appreciate him.”

Gatewood left Auburn in middle of the 2019 season after losing out to then-freshman Bo Nix for the starting quarterback job, and transferred to Kentucky the following January. He played in six games for the Wildcats in 2020 — starting a 14-3 loss to Georgia — completing 17 of 35 passes for 109 yards and an interception while also rushing for 62 yards on 25 carries.

Terry Wilson — Kentucky’s primary quarterback in 2020 — had one season of eligibility remaining, but chose to transfer to New Mexico (where the son of his high school coach is offensive coordinator). Levis arrived this spring from Penn State, where he played in 15 games and started two the last two seasons.

A four-star prospect and Top 50 national recruit in the 2018 class out of Jacksonville, Fla., the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Gatewood arrived at Auburn amid much fanfare due to his physical resemblance to former Tigers star Cam Newton. He played in eight games in his two seasons at Auburn, completing 5 of 8 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 176 yards and three scores.

As a second-time transfer and not yet a graduate, Gatewood would likely have to receive an NCAA waiver to be eligible to play for an FBS school in 2021. The NCAA granted a one-time transfer eligibility exception to all Division I athletes last spring, but it only applies if the athlete has not yet transferred.

Gatewood’s departure leaves sophomore Beau Allen as the back-up to Levis. Allen, who appeared in two games as a redshirt freshman last season, was a three-time all-state pick at Lexington (Ky.) Catholic.