Kentucky quarterback Will Levis has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft and will skip the Wildcats' upcoming Music City Bowl appearance against Iowa, the senior announced on his Twitter account. Levis technically has one season of collegiate eligibility remaining but is considered a likely first-round pick in the draft after two years as the Wildcats' starting quarterback.
Levis previously revealed in a Twitter Spaces chat with UK Blue Chips that he intended to enter the draft, though he was uncertain at the time whether he would play in the bowl game. The Wildcats finished the 2022 regular season 7-5 with Levis as their primary quarterback. The Penn State transfer completed 185 of 283 passes for 2,406 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season while playing through injuries.
A former three-star prospect, Levis spent the first three seasons of his college career playing sparingly at Penn State. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2018 and played primarily as a backup over the following two seasons before transferring to Kentucky after the 2020 season. He immediately earned the starting job and completed 66% of his passes for 2,826 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 mark in 2021.
Levis is ranked as the No. 3 quarterback in the CBS Sports 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings behind Alabama's Bryce Young and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud. Young, Stroud and Levis are all regarded as top-five overall prospects in the rankings, though, so Levis could have a chance to be the first-quarterback selected.
"I know that I can be, and I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen," Levis said. "I hope I am, and I just want to go out and prove to everyone else that I am as well."
In his latest NFL mock Draft, CBS Sports NFL Draft writer Chris Trapasso has Levis going No. 6 overall to the Carolina Panthers.
"Levis hasn't built on an awesome 2021, yet he has all the traits teams want in their franchise quarterbacks today," Trapasso wrote. "He can compete with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield in Year 1 for the starting gig."
What next for Kentucky's QB room?
Though Levis' departure was widely expected, a succession plan at the position isn't particularly clear. When Levis missed time with injury this season, redshirt freshman Kaiya Sheron filled in. The former three-star prospect from Somerset, Kentucky, completed 15 of 27 passes for 178 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in UK's loss to South Carolina on Oct. 8.
Other quarterbacks on this year's roster include true freshman Destin Wade and Iowa transfer Deuce Hogan, a third-year sophomore and former three-star prospect in his first season with the program after two years as a reserve with the Hawkeyes. Kentucky does not have a quarterback committed as part of its 2023 recruiting class.
Head coach Mark Stoops fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after just one season, and depending on who he brings in, it could make the Wildcats a destination for transfer quarterbacks. Levis showed that, with the right system in place, UK can be a place where transfer quarterbacks can take their games to the next level.