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Patrick Towles, a Thoroughbred Improving as the Race Goes On

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Patrick Towles success? That doesn't come to surprise many that were keen to him either knowing that his grandfather, Jim Bunning, was a former politician and a Hall of Fame baseball player.

Andy Lyons

Game-changing quarterbacks in the SEC this year have ranked few and far between. Coming into the season, we said Bo Wallace's name -- the only senior QB at the helm in the conference. Coming into the season, we talked Dak Prescott -- who is now the nation's leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. And coming into the season, we mentioned Jake Coker -- yeah, he's nowhere to be found.

Coming in, the SEC's quarterbacks were like a box of chocolates; you had no clue what you were going to get. And heading into Week 10, what do we know? Not much more, to be honest. Maty Mauk, the returning semi-veteran for Missouri, has struggled. Jeff Driskel under Kurt Roper has struggled to vast extremes. And Hutson Mason? He's been as close to average as one can be, I'd say.

But what about one Patrick Towles?

I thought Kentucky was going to beat Mississippi State on Saturday. At home, SEC Nation, sellout crowd, why not? Nice defensive line led by Alvin "Bud" Dupree; corners in Blake McClain and A.J. Stamps; and yes, a capable quarterback, one with the poise and ability to get the job done.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds -- according to ESPN.com -- Towles is an athlete. He can run, he can move, and he showed his unmatched endurance -- if there's anything I learned watching the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, that's most certainly it.

Born and raised a Kentucky fan in Fort Thomas, an hour and a half outside of Lexington, Towles has been a Kentucky fan all of his life. And as the state is known for it's horses, Gary Danielson crossed that bridge after Towles cut across the field scrambling for 30-yards on Saturday saying, "He's a thoroughbred, there is no doubt in my mind he will play at the next level." And he has a point.

Towles reminds me of a thoroughbred, too. Like Secretariat, the Triple Crown winner in '73 and a member of the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame, he's a colt that's arguably one of the greatest racehorses ever. Bred from horses that certainly had success themselves, it wasn't a surprise that this horse was so successful on the track. Patrick Towles' success? That doesn't come to surprise many that were keen to him either knowing that his grandfather, Jim Bunning, was a former politician and a Hall-of-Fame baseball player.

As a young buck, I wasn't too familiar with Bunning-- that was, until I noticed his kinship as Towles' grandfather. For those that don't know, Bunning pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Detroit Tigers for 15 years. His most notable traits? A gamer at heart, a man that was competitively unmatched, and a great teammate and very smart guy, serving as a United States senator from 1999-2011.

As we saw the qualities of his ancestors in Secretariat, it seems easy to glean the similar traits from Bunning to Towles. Scrambling up the middle towards the end zone on a pivotal third down in the fourth quarter, Towles powered his way in, keeping the game hanging in the balance with 2:31 left. And yes, that was after he'd accounted for 462 of the Wildcats' 500 yards.

Making big play after big play, Towles carried his team. He did, it's undeniable, and his performance at quarterback was telling about his future. Big arm, mobile in the pocket, and the competitive fire that a quarterback needs. On the season, he's thrown 12 touchdowns and four interceptions; he's run for over 200 yards and has totaled four touchdowns on the ground; he ranks in the top half of the league in almost every statistical category. His nickname is "Patty Ice" and I'd argue there might come a time where he steals that nickname from Matt Ryan (referred to as "Matty Ice").

Kentucky is 5-3. They need one win to make a bowl. Under the leadership and quarterbacking of Patrick Towles, the Wildcats will surely get there with Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia and Lousiville left on the schedule. And just like Secretariat's journey to victory in the Kentucky Derby, Towles is only one length into the race. By the end of his career and by the time the announcers frame the cliche that sings "down the stretch they come," expect Kentucky to be in the forefront of competition in the SEC and expect Towles to be a premier draft pick.