Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is the real deal

January 3rd, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Will Levis is a star in the making

I’ve spent a lot of time arguing that the quarterback picture in college football is something of a blackhole. So it’s only fair I make a slight correction.

Kentucky’s Will Levis is a legit NFL prospect.

He’s eligible for the 2022 draft but when I asked Tony Pauline about the likelihood of Levis declaring this year, he said the expectation is he will return for a second season at UK (having transferred from Penn State)

The likes of Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud get a lot of hype. For me, Levis is the one with a chance to elevate his stock into a high grade whenever he turns pro.

He’s 6-3, 232lbs and a terrific athlete. He ran a 4.10 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 36 inch vertical. His overall score was a 123.27 — which is seriously impressive for a quarterback who was already 224lbs in High School.

It shows on tape. As a runner, Levis is similar to Taysom Hill. He’s not going to break off dynamic, sudden runs like Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. He is more than capable of taking a read-option, scrambling for a decent gain and even making yards after contact.

In the red zone in particular, he could be like having another running back on the field. He’s a brilliantly sized, explosive athlete who registered nine rushing touchdowns in 2021.

All of this is just a bonus though.

Levis has excellent technique. He squares his shoulders off and positions himself to make accurate throws. His feet are planted on the ground, providing the necessary base to throw with consistent velocity. There’s evidence of touch throws and he has plenty of arm strength to drive the ball into tight windows. His release is compact and smooth.

I wouldn’t say he has the special qualities of a Carson Strong, or the ‘wow’ factor as a passer either. Yet what he shows is an ability to make throws on every level and keep an offense ticking with rhythm. Being able to mix things up with a few runs means opponents have to account for his legs. He’s a difficult quarterback to prepare for.

He spent three seasons as the backup to Trace McSorley and Sean Clifford and it never really worked out at Penn State. For that reason, as an older player, you might wonder if he’d consider turning pro this year. For purely selfish reasons, I hope it happens.

Anyone who can elevate this quarterback class would be welcome.

Yet it’s clear what his impact has been on Kentucky. They finished the season 10-3 and defeated Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. Another strong year in the SEC could really promote Levis into the high first round discussion. The sky’s the limit too, given the position he plays.

Kentucky just had an impressive recruiting cycle, ranking 10th in the nation according to Rivals. So they’re a team trending in the right direction.

One key decision will be that of star receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. He’s considering turning pro after a 1334, seven touchdown 2021 season. He’s a terrific prospect in his own right and could be a high pick if he turns pro. If he bolts for the NFL — it’ll impact Levis’ stock, as he’ll lose his best playmaking target.

Either way, Levis is the name to have etched on your brains for 2023 — short of an unexpected decision that sees him turn pro this year.

There is one thing you should know though — he has some strange eating habits. He puts mayonnaise in his coffee, eats bananas with the skin still on and when UK won the Citrus Bowl, he ate an orange with the skin on too.

It’s not clear if this will impact his draft grade…

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82 Responses to “Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is the real deal”

  1. Peter says:

    Interesting to see if he stays for sure. But i love to see his numbers get better with time.

    The food thing…meh…apparently hellmans mayo tweeted about putting mayo in your coffee. Sounds like an even stranger version of butter in your coffee.

    As per the peels….who knows. I have two nutitionist frirnds and they both swear by it. So he could be doing it for effect or maybe he us super into nutrition?

    Glad you brought it up now though. The football is strange. It can handle some eccentricity sometime but for some positions it gets pretty ridgid.

    • Rob Staton says:

      The food line at the end wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously

      • Matthew says:

        Wasn’t lost on me. Nice bit of levity, Rob. Cheers!

      • Peter says:

        Honestly thought you were mentioning something scouts would look at. Lol.

        Mostly since this is the same sport where draftees are asked if they find their mom attractive and would they prefer a gun or a knife to kill someone…football is weird sometimes.

      • uptop says:

        the big question is if his team mates went to his birthday. we don’t want another bo callahan!

    • DC says:

      My wife is SUPER into nutrition, but not that super lol

  2. cha says:

    His throwing motion is deceiving to me. He doesn’t look like he’s winding up or giving it much oomph but it gets there. The more I watch the more I take it for granted.

    Which I like. His motion looks very repeatable. Like a golfer you don’t think it swinging very hard but always drives it 315 yards straight.

    He also seems to have a nice amount of loft on his passes. They’re straight when they need to be and more rainbow when the receiver needs to run under them.

    • Ukhawk says:

      I like his release too. Looks like it’s quick, would like to see it measured vs the likes of Marino. Also seems smooth no matter what, doesn’t look hurried ever

  3. cha says:

    MSD asked PC about how he can be dismissive of ‘Russ rumors’

    Pete said “The kind of conversations we’re having behind the scenes are not in line with the rumors. We’ve been connected the whole season, so that’s why it is easy to dismiss at this time.”

    • Matthew says:

      Sound response, no? What else can either entity do but what they’ve been doing? The QB and HC can never give tea, straight forward answers.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Yeah

      Those pesky journalists again, making stuff up

      Clearly Russ is just a happy little soldier

      • cha says:

        What’s really unfortunate is Pete was asked what he thought the team would be this year if Russ hadn’t gotten hurt (after being asked about turnovers), Pete basically said he thought they would have a team similar to the recent Seahawks teams.

        He legitimately thought that saying this year’s team would perform like the last couple season’s teams was a good spin to put on it.

        It’s time for a change.

        • Blitzy the Clown says:

          His Overton window for the definition of success has shifted downwards.

          I think he really thinks a 2020 regular season record of 12-4 (but 0-1 in the playoffs) is success, as is making the playoffs 5 out of the last 6 seasons (but never getting past the Divisional round).

          And I think he really believes the difference between the 2020 Seahawks going 12-4 and the 2021 Seahawks at 6-11 (presumably) is mostly Wilson’s injury, and not the accumulated consequences of his horrid roster construction/management since 2016 and utterly predictable offensive/defensive scheming.

          I think Carroll is a good guy, and I think he’s still a great coach. But for whatever reasons, I think he’s lost all objectivity and perspective with respect to these Seahawks. I think if he stays in Seattle beyond this season, he runs the extreme risk of tarnishing his reputation, but if he leaves for say Chicago, Jacksonville, or even New Orleans, he could have an immediate positive impact, because he is the best HC in Seahawks history and one of the best HC’s in football in the modern age. And sometimes, a change in scenery is all it takes for a legend like him to get his mojo back.

          If Carroll wants to remain an NFL HC, I think he needs a change as badly for himself as the Seahawks do for the good of the team.

          I should note that by itself, a 12-4 regular season record is a convincing measure of success, even with a WC round loss. As is making the post season 5 out of 6 years, even without a Conference Championship or Super Bowl appearance in any of them.

    • Gross MaToast says:

      “…at this time” meaning that there’s still one week left in this season that Russ has agreed to play to the end. It leaves an unstated “at that time” lingering for about the next week. At that time, Russ will be traded to the Saints, or Broncos, or Giants.

      I’m in favor of taking whatever they get for Wilson and turning around and flipping it plus Flamal Badams, LJ Collier, Penny, (look at all of those 1st round picks!) Collins and some old Tre Flowers’ jerseys for Deshawn Watson. (I was walking through my local supermarket today and I was surprised to see that they had a life size cardboard cutout of Tre Flowers with a Bud Light display. Fitting, as they both suck.) Either that or try to convince yourself that we really haven’t seen the best of Trubisky or Mayfield, or Mariota, or Geno. We have. Remember the Texans-Seahawks game a few seasons back? Watson was dynamite. Sure, he’s got some issues, but that can be rehabilitated with a heartfelt apology and several million dollars. Pete could have him handing off the ball as he’s never handed off the ball before.

  4. Matthew says:

    What were the thoughts on Malik Willis? Seems if RW is traded to the Giants, this might be a target as well? Sorry if I’m over looking your commentary. I’ve tried Googling with no luck.

  5. Zach says:

    Well now I’m curious what he would have done if UK had won the Pineapple Bowl

  6. cha says:

    Heaps rubs the frustration out of his eyes with Salk and talks like a normal human being about the ‘Russ hates the run and wants to do it his way’ argument:

    About 6:40 mark it starts

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hour-1-is-rashaad-penny-forcing-seattles-hand-with-his/id434834465?i=1000546830461

    When you talk about Salk saying that ‘if Russell Wilson departs this is gonna be because he’s unwilling to play in a system like the one we saw yesterday…I don’t agree with that whatsoever, and it also goes to ignore all of the other factors that have been going on here in Seattle the last few years. I don’t think the style they played yesterday is a detriment and has Russ saying ‘nah, that’s not what I want to do.'”

    • cha says:

      Indeed. Sounds like Salk is going to rebut tomorrow and then Jake and Salk will face off Thursday morning on the air.

      • 12th chuck says:

        Wilson has Cowherd, Carroll has Salk lol

        • Roy Batty says:

          Salk has money tied to Carroll via the Pete Carroll show. He is an entertainer, not a sports journalist. He gets paid to make an opinion into a talking point, not to use facts to make a talking point. He cherry picks certain stats, without context. His fan base is akin to those who read a headline on the Internet, peruse the article, then take it as gospel truth, without researching the validity.

          He is just another in a long list of people given a bullhorn when they should actually only be background noise. It’s sad, because 710 does have some good people. People who aren’t out to create a narrative, ignore the obvious to help prove that narrative and aren’t tied to a particular coach.

          • Rob Staton says:

            If he wants to generate listeners, which is his business, I would think shutting down any talk of moving on from Carroll would be extremely detrimental to the cause

          • James Z says:

            I’m starting to understand why Salk was almost run out of the Boston area before he came back to Seattle. His obnoxious rants border on journalistic malfeasance, if he actually was a real sports journalist. He was OK when Brock was with him in the morning, but not even his podcast with Brock is becoming well-nigh unlistenable. He’s got a shelf life and we’re just about there…

    • Matthew says:

      Wilson looked good yesterday, but didn’t look like a MVP candidate, just a highly functioning part of the larger whole. I think he wants to be an MVP, and then win Super Bowls. That said, if this team looked like they did yesterday every week for the past 3 seasons, nobody is talking and operating through the media about Wilson wanting out. If they’re winning, REALLY winning, I don’t think Wilson is thinking twice about staying put, even at the expense more personal accolades.

  7. TJ says:

    Speaking of college QBs, OU’s Caleb Williams entering the transfer portal.

  8. Roy Batty says:

    Well, after viewing Mayfield’s stat line half way through the 3rd quarter, it’s probably safe to say they will enter the vet QB sweepstakes in the off season.

    I can’t see them gambling on another rookie when they have so much talent on the cheap. Get a vet, make a run at it.

    Then again, they DID draft Mayfield 1st overall to begin with, so who the heck knows.

    So much talent on that roster. What could have been with a good QB.

    • Peter says:

      They won’t do it and he most likely won’t go there…but both parties should consider it. Burrows is great. But not Wilson great, yet. Wilson in cleveland could have a straight shot through the afc north.

      Four seasons.

      Mayfield: 80 tds to 54 ints

      Wilson: 128 tds to 30 ints (!!!)

      • Roy Batty says:

        That’s why I never said anything about Wilson in my post. I said “vet QB sweepstakes”, which there could be plenty of. Whether they are actually franchise QB’s may not matter to more than a few teams struggling with bad QBs. Garappolo only has $1.4 million in dead cap left on his contract for 2022, but carries a $27 million cap hit if he stays.

        Cleveland adding to the bidding war for established vets only ups the ante. More teams searching for that franchise QB only makes things better for those teams willing to part with their QB, for the right price.

  9. swedenhawk says:

    Just watched the Citrus Bowl highlights. Was impressed by Elvis’s poise… he was under pressure all game and though he threw a pick he did a good job of hanging in the pocket and made some plays. Kentucky RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. also had a nice showing… both of his TDs were solid, if unspectacular; he seems to bring some attitude and toughness. Will be curious to see how he tests.

  10. swedenhawk says:

    * Levis’s poise

  11. UkAlex6674 says:

    Wonder if Russ was watching the scenes after the Steelers game with Ben and the fans. Russ says he wants to leave a legacy and I really believe he wants to be a one man team, like Roethlisberger, and gain all the accolades for that.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Wilson wants that

      But he’s not going to just plod on with with a team that isn’t going anywhere for the sake of a nice final home game in 10 years time

      If the Seahawks make changes, then there’s every chance he’ll get that night one day

    • cha says:

      FWIW, Russ spent extra time signing autographs for fans after the Detroit game.

      Not sure if that is meaningful or unusual, but…

    • Ashish says:

      I’m super nervous hoping common sense prevail. 70 years coach vs great quarterback in his prime. I’m also hoping if Jody Allen is about to make bad decision Pete resign to save Seahawks future.

  12. Denver Hawker says:

    Denver radio commentator brought up a good point during the “fire Fangio” segment:

    Most self-respecting owners care about butts in seats and having an entertaining product. NFL is in the entertainment business. Losing is tolerable as long as there’s a bigger picture at play (promising, young roster), but boring is worse than losing. Fans will tune out boring. Broncos under Fangio are boring and that’s why he needs to go.

    As stated all season on this blog, the Seahawks are boring and that’s dangerous. Jody and her “advisors” I hope are focused on making this team “not boring”.

  13. Matthew says:

    Brock brings up some points that really makes me wonder how successful Wilson can be going down the route he seems to be going. They have him under contract for potentially 5 years. If a REALLY good trade package can’t be had, is the FO compelled to just dig in, tell him he’s not being dealt this year? Is Wilson going to sit out an entire season, or more to get to a better situation, one year older, and out of the game a season? Or just play another season in this system because he has no other cards to play.

    https://sports.mynorthwest.com/1550833/huard-wagner-wilson-final-seahawks-home-game/

    • cha says:

      “I got a sense to some degree almost like an adolescent. I guess they’re kind of in a similar vein, but he’s kind of an adolescent that is upset and is yelling back at mom and dad and isn’t happy with all the circumstances, the parenting, the discipline and the struggles,” Huard said. “But at the end of the day, (the Seahawks are) like, ‘Hey man, you’re my kid. And really, where else are you going to go? What else is going to be a better situation for you? The grass is not always greener.’”

      No, no, no, no.

      I hate this analogy.

      Russ is not a child. He’s a full-grown man and one of the highest-paid players in the professional sporting world.

      Pete Carroll is not a parent. He’s the top decision-maker for the football operations of one of the lead franchises in the NFL.

      And that line of thinking? ‘Where else you gonna go?’ It has been used by abusers and control freaks alike in a family setting to justify some truly awful behavior.

      • Matthew says:

        Sure, it’s a flawed analogy. Doesn’t change that the organization has more power in this, than the player. Just like a parent has more power and control over a dissatisfied child, to a degree. Of course Russ is a grown ass man, etc. He said LIKE an adolescent…anyway, the points he makes about being contractually bound, and Russ doing what he can inside those, and maybe it doesn’t equal a split THIS season, is what I grab onto.

        • GaiusMarius says:

          It is not good to have your franchise QB unhappy.

          Repeat, it is not good to have your franchise QB unhappy.

          If the Seahawks’ strategy is for Wilson to “suck it up”, that will not lead to a good place.

          That is obvious, but not to the “well, he’s under contract” crowd.

      • Blitzy the Clown says:

        I know we’ve got a lot of time to talk about this (for) weeks and months and into the entire offseason because this is not going to happen quickly.

        No Brock, that was last offseason.

        Huard thinks…that Sunday’s resounding win over the Lions showed how good things can be for Wilson and the Seahawks when the offensive line plays well and there’s a strong rushing attack.

        I can’t speak for Brock, but I don’t look at the entirety of the Seahawks’ 2021 season, focus solely on their week 16 win against the Detroit Lions, and say to myself, that’s the real Seahawks this year, or moving forward. And frankly, anyone who argues that’s what Russell Wilson will do is insulting the intelligence of all of us.

        What happened to sports journalism?

        • Matthew says:

          Brock isn’t a journalist. I think what I take from that is you get a glimpse of what could be, just like Penny showing up in the last 6 games of his contract. it’s nice seeing way they drafted him. Even if it’s against the worst run defenses in the league. It doesn’t negate the ineptitude of the past, or guarantee any future success, but seeing something work like it should, or could work is informative. What we really don’t know is does Wilson just want to win, or does he want to win AND be noticed as an MVP? I think he can look at what Seattle could be at it’s best like the Detroit game, imagine or be sold by PC/JS that they can do that against better teams, with a more talented roster, and still want out because it doesn’t allow him to stand out like he wants.

          • Blitzy the Clown says:

            I’ve never heard Wilson talk about wanting to be the League MVP. But I have heard him say multiple times, as recently as this last week, that he wants to win 4 Super Bowls. So the answer to your question is he wants to win.

            But I can’t get past the “look at what Seattle could be at its best like the Detroit game”

            If the only game this season where Seattle looked like its best was the game vs the worst team in the League for the last decade…well, that’s the disconnect right there.

            And Wilson would have to be a braindead imbecile to focus on that one win while ignoring all the ugly, ugly rest.

            With so many uncertainties going into this offseason regarding HC, GM, QB, etc., the one thing I’m confident about is that Wilson will not play for the Seahawks again if Pete Carroll remains HC.

            Wilson is not going to float trade talks last season after going 12-4, then refloat them this season after going 6-11 (actually before the season ends), and suddenly reverse course because the Seahawks beat…the Detroit Lions.

          • GaiusMarius says:

            The only thing I take out of the Detroit game is that we are NOT as bad as Detroit.

            That’s it.

    • BA says:

      This is the sort of thing I remember the Redskins trying to pull with Cousins and is firmly within the purview of completely dysfunctional organizations. I sure we aren’t about to join the ranks of the Redskins, Lions, Jags, etc.

    • Gross MaToast says:

      JS wanted to trade him last year and was prepared to send him to Cleveland before the 2018 draft. He’d obviously have no hesitations about shipping Team Russ to another franchise and getting on with whatever’s next.

      Would Pete let him go, if RW threatened to sit?

      I think it’s already been decided.

  14. Starhawk29 says:

    Just watched 2 of Levis’ games (LSU and Georgia). Early impression is that he has very good control over the ball. He’s not a flashy player, but the ball is on target on every throw within 20 yards or so. He fits a few into coverage that suggest deceptive arm strength. I agree with cha that his motion is very unique, but its compact and quick, so no complaints.

    I will say I haven’t seen him push the ball downfield, so that is something I need to see more of. I also don’t love his pocket presence, a few plays with happy feet, or he fails to sense the rush. In an awful QB year, he definitely is a bright spot though. Lots to like in his game.

    While on the subject of QBs, Colin Cowherd had one of the dumbest takes I’ve seen him make in a while yesterday. While defending Stafford, he argued he’s ok with all the picks because of the talent. He compared him to Tua of all people, saying he’d rather have top talent with mistakes than little talent and “safe” plays.

    Firstly, comparing Stafford to Tua is like comparing a Lamborghini to a Toyota Yaris. One is a flawed but coveted item, the other the owner is looking to replace the moment they can. Stafford needs to be compared to the Ferarris, Porsches, and McLarens of the world. And on a track (the playoffs), a Lamborghini’s flaws

    • Starhawk29 says:

      Hit submit by accident. I mean to say there is a reason Ferarri, Porsche, and McLaren set better lap times and win more races. When a tenth of a second matters, flaws become back breakers. Same is true of the playoffs.

      Secondly, why are you ok with ints? What world does Stafford live in where ints are no big deal? They are generally accepted as the difference between good and bad QBs. You can’t realistically give the ball away and win with any consistency.

  15. Mark says:

    Hi Rob,

    Just saw a news article that Ikem Ekwonu is declaring for the draft. What are your thoughts on him? Is he as good as they say?

    https://www.profootballrumors.com/2022/01/nc-states-ikem-ekwonu-declares-for-draft

  16. TheOtherJordan says:

    The fact people are using a win against a terrible Detroit team as some sort of proof of how good the Seahawks can be says everything about the state of the franchise. There are seriously people celebrating a meaningless win against one of the worst teams in the league? It’s incredible. I swear there are people that would be content with the status quo for forever because we won a super bowl once. And that season is rapidly becoming ancient history.

    • Schrub says:

      I agree 100%

    • BA says:

      The sad part is that most of the other Seahawks boards (reddit, .net, etc) are parroting this exact nonsense. The predominant sentiment is that they’re excited to bring PCJS and the whole tired gang back for another season just because of two wins over the laughingstock 49ers and lopsided wins over the three worst teams in the league. If there’s one thing Pete remains good at in his decline, it’s pandering, and a good chunk of the fanbase has bought into it hook line and sinker.

      It’s bizarre because you don’t see this with other fanbases of teams in the midst of a reshuffling (Bears, Giants, Broncos, etc).

  17. Tomas says:

    New story in Oregonian, cited by 590 am minutes ago, apparently reveals that Jody owns neither the Hawks nor the Blazers, but is merely a trustee. Documents cited allegedly show that Paul did NOT want his sister to own either team, but instructed her – as a trustee, not owner – to sell both. Sorry I haven’t linked the article, beyond my abilities. But if true, it would seem that Jody would have no reason to be concerned about what her brother may have done concerning Hawks, and doesn’t have sole authority to do anything in any event, as team is owned by the estate, which is an entity distinct from Jody. We probably shouldn’t be holding our breath for Jody to do anything positive.

      • Big Mike says:

        Substitute Seahawks” for “Blazers” and “Pete Carroll” for “Neil Olshay” (except the bullying part) and this article could easily be about the Seattle pro football team.

        • Matthew says:

          Yep, hard to not see how Paul Allen’s death has negatively affected both franchises. I’m sure Jody Allen is only doing what the trust has put her in place to do, and can sell the franchise whenever it feels necessary. So the vibe that somehow she’s doing this against Paul Allen’s wishes is false. The trust just doesn’t care about the on court/field product, because the value of the franchise isn’t really affected by it.

        • 12th chuck says:

          hopefully they are waiting until Jeff Bezos buys the broncos, then put the seahawks on the market

          • Matthew says:

            Broncos? Huh…I think Bezos sports ownership will start when the NBA expands, and places a team back in Seattle. Which is preferable to him owning the Seahawks for some reason…

            • 12th chuck says:

              Too much disfunction in amazon/ blue orgin to think it would be any different with a sports franchise

              • Peter says:

                If the board has no interest in running the teams then they should sell asap.

                I have a sense that owning a sports franchise is not something bezos would be into. What would be the point? An investment i suppose. But not really much of one with his wealth. So he’d have to actually want to be involved. If someone like musk liked sports i coukd see him into. Big ego like bezos, but loves getting himself out there ala mark cuban, steve balmer, jerry jones.

    • Big Mike says:

      Or maybe anything at all…………..if true.

    • Big Mike says:

      After reading this I’m even more convinced Russell Wilson will have to force the Seahawks’ hand and demand to be traded. Pete obviously ain’t steppin’ down and the team will not be sold in the next week (or maybe even year).

  18. Tomas says:

    Haven’t read the article yet, looking for it now.

  19. Tomas says:

    Thanks for linking the article by John Canzano. It’s Less revelatory or significant than I might have imagined, but not encouraging.

    • TomLPDX says:

      Glad to be of service! Yeah, the article didn’t really cover much except to highlight some of Paul’s treasures.

      • Big Mike says:

        I appreciate it as well Tom. To me it also highlighted that Jody is very, very unlikely to make any decisions about either franchise and is nothing more than a face for the trust. At the same time, the trust seems to be nothing more than a placeholder for both franchises until they’re sold. Meanwhile, we fans here in the NW are suffering from neglect at this point and sadly, for the near future at the very least, possibly longer.

        • TomLPDX says:

          No kidding and I’ll bet that is NOT what Paul Allen had in mind.

          I think 60 Minutes or some show like that did a piece on her years ago when the body-guard/bones thing occurred. I remember thinking at the time that this is a sick person and what the heck was she doing being so involved in Paul’s business. Just remember not being very impressed with her. Wish I could find that piece on her.

  20. Tomas says:

    A Nov. 12, 2013 piece in the Seattle PI ( online, free) sheds considerable light on the bone-smuggling and sexual harassment allegations -settled out-of-court – involving Jody. Not flattering.

  21. Tomas says:

    Levi Pulkkinen is the reporter and author of piece mentioned above on Jody.