Today marked the 15th and final practice of the spring for Kentucky football. Hard to →
Football Season Coverage
As Kindsey posted earlier, Kentucky got a huge football recruit today. Gunnar Hoak, out of Dublin, Ohio, is a three star pro-style QB who has a cannon of an arm. The 6’4″ 190 lb high school junior is rated the 53 best pro-style QB in the nation right now by 247 Sports, and threw for 2,584 yards and 30 TDs with only 3 interceptions this past year, completing 65% of his passes. He’s ranked by Rivals as #32 overall prospect in Ohio. Hoak is the 16th recruit for Stoops & Co. for 2016 and the first quarterback commitment Kentucky has gotten since Drew Barker.
— Gunnar Hoak (@GunnarHoak12) April 19, 2015
Justin Rowland said on twitter that he is exactly what Kentucky needs:
I think Hoak is a QB that could have made a big difference at UK last couple of years. Like accuracy, natural throwing ability, footwork. — Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) April 19, 2015
Different QB than Towles. No offense to latter, as he can be good. Towles has wheels/cannon. Hoak headiness, accuracy, feet, little things — Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) April 19, 2015
Hoak told 247 that he is excited to come play for the Cats, “It’s a great situation. With them only having two quarterbacks on the roster and they didn’t take a guy in the 2015 class.”
He took unofficial visits to Indiana, Bowling Green, Toledo, Pitt, Duke, and West Virginia. He also had offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincy, Kent St., and Toledo.
His arm totally lives up to his name. Watch him work:
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) April 19, 2015
Three-star quarterback, Gunnar Hoak, committed to Kentucky during his visit this afternoon. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound prospect from Dublin, Ohio picked Kentucky after receiving his first offer during his first visit on campus last weekend.
Scout.com ranks Hoak as the No. 35 ranked quarterback in the class of 2016. 247Sports ranks him at No. 53 in his class and Rivals.com has him at the No. 32 prospect out of Ohio.
With Hoak’s commitment, Kentucky now has a total of 16 players committed for 2016.
Welcome to the #BBN Gunnar!
Even though anything before the draft is simply speculation, the Green Bay Packers apparently love former Cats. Today they Tweeted out the above video made by the official website, chronicling Z’s rise to stardom.
Big Z is currently projected to go in the 3rd or 4th round in next week’s draft. If the Pack don’t snatch him up, the Carolina Panthers seem pretty interested too.
By Nick Roush on ©April 19th, 2015 @ 1:00pm
Take it from me: you don’t wanna miss out on this football season.
After spending a Spring watching the Cats do work, the BBN has to be prepared for the most exciting season we’ve seen in years. You can go to a bar or watch comfortably from your couch, but I promise you it won’t be as beautiful as the football within the walls of the New Commonwealth Stadium. I’m geeking just thinking about it.
So don’t wait, renew your season tickets before Wednesday, April 22nd.
With eight home games, the only thing that worries me about New Commonwealth is that I’m afraid Patrick Towles might break the Air Raid Sirens.
Lets all be honest, the receiving core at UK the past 5 years has had its ups and downs. We have had receivers come through and provide great plays, but the whole group never really seemed to have the ‘it’ factor. Last year was the first time in a long time we can all agree the receivers had some big positive impact plays in games and really provided some life. However, this year can be a huge improvement from last year. Lets look at some highlights from the final scrimmage to feel more confident about the AirRaid.
- Kentucky gets back some of the biggest impact players from last years group: Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson “Juice”, Blake Bone, and Ryan Timmons. These four guys were very reliable in providing some big plays in the offense. Blake and Garrett were two of the stars from the scrimmage. Blake caught the first long ball of the day over his shoulder for a textbook catch, and Juice was constantly causing big play threats all over the field. With a full year under their belt look for these guys to be leaders of the receiving core.
– Add some more depth to go along with these four players and it provides a perfect mix to have a great arsenal of receivers. The scrimmage provided great playing time for some receivers who haven’t been able to prove themselves to the fans. Players like Cameron Fogle and Thaddeus Snodgrass can provide needed depth and great skill to this group. Thaddeus had two huge plays from both quarterbacks. Fogle joined the fun with a quick pass for a touchdown. As well, we all remember what a healthy Alex Montgomery can do. He wasn’t able to participate in the scrimmage, but is practicing and will be ready for the season.
-CJ Conrad is going to be that man. He was bringing the wood during the scrimmage on screen blocks and blocks out of the backfield; as well as catching anything that was thrown to him. If he caught a quick pass at 5 yards, he was putting his head down and gaining another 5 yards. He also had a beautiful one-handed catch in the deep part of the secondary. It was astounding to see how well CJ played as an early enrollee with the first string. Going through a grueling session of summer workouts and fall camp his body will be prepared for SEC play.
As you can see, this group is starting to shape out to become a group Coach Stoops and company has been working towards. They need to work on becoming more physical when catching balls in the middle, and perimeter blocking will be important in this offense. Summer sessions will help with both of those key areas. With the season still a few months’ away new names will continuously be thrown around. However, the scrimmage should get us all excited about the receivers coming through UK.
The HBC is about to turn 70 years old and he’s still crushing it in the weight room like a college bro bulking up before Spring Break.
A South Carolina reporter recently tagged along with Spurrier during one of his workouts and the whole thing was captured on video:
Once the workout was over, Spurrier removed his sweater vest (but kept the bandana) to flex on his haters in this photo:
What did YOU do today?
After losing Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith to graduation, Kentucky is looking to replace two of its best pass rushers from last season. Dupree ended his senior season leading the SEC in career sacks. Smith added a threat to the other side of the line and the two combined for 12 of the teams.
During Hatcher’s freshman and sophomore seasons, he recorded 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. At 6-foot-3 and 248 points, Hatcher’s quickness off the line makes him one of Kentucky’s most threatening pass rushers for 2015.
The retuning senior is looking to make an impact at the defensive end position. Johnson was moved from linebacker to defensive end during Spring ball before his junior season. Johnson has yet to record a sack, but with a season under his belt at his new position, look for Johnson to be a force in 2015.
Ware could be the replacement that Kentucky is looking for this upcoming season. After redshirting during his freshman year, the four-star prospect is looking to make a huge impact in his Kentucky football debut. During his redshirt season, Ware went from 220 to 250 pounds, adding a lot of power to his 6-foot-2 frame. This season will be a learning experience as Ware plays in the SEC for the first time against dual-threat quarterbacks. However, Ware could be the key pass rusher this defense is looking for.
Huguenin is a player that many people might not know about. The senior played recorded a total of 18 tackles in 2014, but has yet to record a tackle for a loss as a Wildcat. Huguenin, Johnson and Ware will need to step it up big time in order for Kentucky to put pressure on the fast-moving offense of the SEC.
Kentucky’s defensive tackles can also make a huge impact in the pass rush this season. Seniors Melvin Lewis and C.J. Johnson returns as veterans, while Regie Meant and Matt Elam return looking to make a mark in their sophomore season. C.J ‘Poop” Johnson as we know him, recorded 2.5 tackles for a loss of 18 yards this past season, but will be bigger factor in 2015. These four guys with be a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the Kentucky defense.
Replacing Dupree and Smith will be no easy task, but I think we have the right guys that will step up and make big plays come August.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2015 @ 2:32pm
And just like that, EKU athletic director Steve Lochmueller has issued a statement saying that the football players involved in the Richmond bar/dorm fights have been suspended:
“The legal process has run its course and the Eastern Kentucky University Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities is following its prescribed procedure in dealing with the events involving our student-athletes on January 25, 2015. We hold all of our EKU students to very high standards and those who violate these codes of conduct are held accountable.
Given the actions of these student-athletes, these players have been suspended from the EKU Football roster. Their future at the University will be determined pending the decision by personnel within our Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This type of behavior will not be tolerated.
From this point forward, this is an internal student judicial issue and the University plans to make no further comment. “
On Tuesday, Richmond police released security footage of both incidents. The first video was from Jerzees in Richmond and showed EKU offensive lineman Colton Scurry start a fight with UK players Drew Barker, Tymere Dubose, and Dorian Baker. The second video from later that night showed EKU defensive lineman (and former UK player) Patrick Graffree sucker punch Drew Barker in the lobby of an EKU dorm.
Neither Scurry nor Graffree were named in the statement from the AD, but it’s sad and telling that they’re only facing punishment after the videos went viral.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2015 @ 1:00pm
In “it’s about damn time” news, the Herald-Leader’s Jen Smith is reporting that Eastern Kentucky will soon take action on the EKU football players involved in the Richmond bar/dorm fights with UK’s Drew Barker, Tymere Dubose, and Dorian Baker. Based on the security footage, this probably means Colton Scurry and Patrick Graffree will soon have some ‘splainin’ to do.
This story has gone viral over the past few days after Richmond police released security footage of both events, most notably former UK/EKU player Patrick Graffree sucker punching Drew Barker. The clip is startling for many reasons, but the most disturbing may be how neither of Drew’s teammates come to his aid after he’s knocked down. It’s been a hot topic of debate online, especially among former Kentucky players. Micah Johnson, who played linebacker at UK from 2006-2010, couldn’t believe it:
I'm jus now seeing this drew baker #KO no way that happens 2006-2010 💯
— micah johnson (@yours_truly4) April 16, 2015
I mean, you know it’s bad when we’re agreeing with Colin Cowherd of all people:
How could you watch a teammate get sucker punched. Be on the floor seemingly out and not defend him. Just disgusting.
— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) April 15, 2015
Not surprisingly, Graffree (@EasyMoney_40) hasn’t tweeted since the video was released.
Today marked the 15th and final practice of the spring for Kentucky football. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Many of us, myself included, are still winding down from the basketball season, while some are still in mourning from how it ended. (And that’s okay; it sucked.) But sports keep rolling along with or without you on board and the book was closed on Mark Stoops’ third spring in Lexington today.
So if you’re in that aforementioned group of mourners, or you’ve been too busy worrying about basketball recruiting to follow football, allow me to give you a brief rundown of what you missed on the gridiron this past month. Give it a read and then put forth your best effort to get in football mode. Basketball is over, people, and Stoops is excited to reach a bowl this fall. (Spoiler alert: He will.)
Here’s 10 things we learned this spring…
1. CJ Conrad is going to be a star.
We’ve heard nothing but great things about CJ Conrad since he first set foot on campus as an early enrollee this past winter. Vince Marrow said Kentucky “struck gold” by landing the freshman tight end from Ohio and the praise for Conrad doesn’t stop with Marrow. Mark Stoops has been very impressed; the quarterbacks love him; and others are already tossing around the Jacob Tamme comparisons.
It’s all talk for now, but Conrad, who has added 20 pounds to his frame, will get his chance to shine as a true freshman this fall. He and Darryl Long will compete for grabs at tight end, a position that hasn’t seen much production since those Tamme days.
2. Stoops is pleased with Shannon Dawson so far.
“I’ve been very, very impressed,” Stoops said after today’s practice, when asked about his first impressions of Dawson. “I was very pleased with what we were doing (under Neal Brown). I really like what we’re doing right now. I just think it was exactly what I was looking for and I just feel like we made a lot of strides and I like what we’re doing schematically. I think our players are really enjoying it, like I said, and in some ways maybe eliminated a little bit of thinking, a little bit of pressure off certain guys. So overall, I’ve been very pleased.”
Stoops knew the offense would be better this season, simply because it’s the third year with better personnel, and he’s happy to see Dawson keeping the momentum Neal Brown was building before he left.
3. Boom Williams is the starting running back.
At least for now.
Boom has grown from a risky playmaker who relied on his raw talent to a well-rounded back with a better understanding of the position. He will have to fend off Mikel Horton and JoJo Kemp if he wants to keep the title of RB1, but for now, running backs coach Chad Scott has no problem naming Boom the numero uno on the depth chart.
“He has a chance to be a real special player,” Mark Stoops said of his sophomore back.
4. Ryan Flannigan is ready to perform at linebacker.
Ryan Flannigan’s progression ran a little behind schedule when he arrived on campus last fall as a JuCo transfer. The staff had hoped he would jump right in and contribute right away, but that was not the case. Flannigan found himself on the bench through most of the first half of the season, before breaking out late in the year, capped off with strong performances in Kentucky’s final two games. He ended the year as the Cats’ fourth-leading tackler, despite starting in only four games.
Now, Flannigan is ready to be a big time contributor for an entire season. Mark Stoops named him one of the four players who took the biggest leap this spring, his first at Kentucky. Flannigan missed last spring and summer while completing academic work to get into UK, so his final season in Lexington will be his first after a full year of preparation. It seems the early offseason work is already paying off.
5. Kentucky may send out the biggest fullback in all of football.
If 330-pound sophomore Jacob Hyde can’t crack the lineup at defensive tackle, the position he was recruited to play, fans may see him on the opposite side of the ball. And in the backfield, of all places. Kentucky tried Hyde at fullback this spring and it went surprisingly well, enough to possibly give it a shot in the fall.
Hyde is all for it if his number is called. Vince Marrow is all in, too: “Can you imagine a 330-pound fullback with a full head of steam coming at you, and you’re a 230-linebacker? It’s not going to be good for him.”
6. The Cats can go deep at wide receiver.
Finally, Kentucky has a receiving corps it can be proud of. After years and years of dropped balls and flat-out disappointing play on the outside, UK is loaded with pass-catchers. Several of the guys vying for playing time made big plays this spring, which is unheard of around the Kentucky football program the last five or so years. Now we have plenty of receivers we can not only trust, but look forward to watching in the offense next season. It’s really lining up to be a fun year in the passing game. (If anyone can remember what that’s like.)
7. George Asafo-Adjei is strong as shit.
Freshman offensive lineman George Asafo-Adjei is already making noise, especially in the weight room. The three-star offensive guard from Ohio recently told reporters he benches 410 pounds, cleans 325 and estimates he squats something in the 600s, though he hasn’t maxed that one out yet. And to think, he’s been on Kentucky’s weight program for, oh, three months. At this rate, he’ll be throwing the students’ cars from Commonwealth’s parking lot to the library on gameday mornings.
Big George will see immediate playing time. He won’t get near a redshirt.
8. New linebacker coach Andy Buh coached Richard Sherman at Stanford.
The newest face on Kentucky’s coaching staff was at Stanford with one of the NFL’s loudest mouths and best players, Richard Sherman. Buh brought Sherman to the facility one day to speak to the Wildcats, maybe the biggest off-the-field moment of the spring.
Sherman’s message to the team: You don’t have to be the fastest or most athletic player on the field to be the best. He explained what he does to gain an edge on his opponent, and his words really connected with the players, especially the secondary.
“Our players really profited off of his talk,” said Buh.
9. Patrick Towles will likely be your starting QB.
Mark Stoops hinted earlier this week that the staff is close to knowing who will be under center in the season opener next fall. The two candidates, Patrick Towles and Drew Barker, each had their moments this spring while competing for the job, but Towles’ accuracy, leadership and experience will likely give him the nod.
Towles received nothing but positive reviews from Stoops and Shannon Dawson throughout the past month, from how well he listens to how well he threw the pigskin in practice. He outplayed Barker in Saturday’s scrimmage and seems to have separated himself from the two-man race as spring ball concluded.
Stoops said he believes he can win with either quarterback, but it sounds like it will be Towles’ time once again this season.
10. Stoops is pleased after his third spring at Kentucky.
Today he wrapped up the final spring practice by saying, “It’s definitely the most consistent we’ve been for 15 practices. We weren’t perfect for all 15 but the guys were really out there trying to make a conscious effort to improve on the things we point out in the meetings. We had great energy. Guys were really flying around this morning, having fun, competing, getting better the whole way through. Really pleased with the progress we’ve made. I feel like we have more depth. We have some good, young talent that we need to continue to work with. Overall very productive, very good spring. We need to keep that momentum, keep that consistency going here with the last two and a half, three weeks of school and have a great summer — physically and mentally getting tougher, getting stronger, getting bigger. And if we do that, then we’ll be excited heading into fall.”
142 days ’till kickoff…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 15th, 2015 @ 6:30pm
The NFL Draft is two weeks from tomorrow, and Bud Dupree is moving up the mock drafts. In case you missed it in last night’s night post, here’s a rundown of where Bud stands in the latest mock drafts:
- Sports Illustrated: 24th to Arizona
- USA Today: 16th to Houston
- CBS Sports: 8th to Atlanta
- Fox Sports: 13th to New Orleans
Yesterday, NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread named Dupree one of the nine most athletic prospects in the draft:
Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Specs: 6-4, 269 pounds, 32 5/8-inch arms, 9 3/4-inch hands
Draft status: The best pro prospect to come from UK since Randall Cobb, if not before, Dupree is one of six listed here who should be gone in the first round. Like Armstead, Dupree was asked to perform multiple roles for the Wildcats and would fit well with a 3-4 defense.
He did what? Dupree ran a 4.56 at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 42-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-6 broad jump, all stunning numbers for someone his size. Clemson’s Vic Beasley grabbed the combine headlines because his 4.53 40 was the fastest among linebackers, but at almost 25 pounds heavier, Dupree’s 4.56 was more impressive.
Bud is one of 26 prospects invited to the draft, and he’s taking Mark Stoops with him. Make us proud, guys.
By Nick Roush on ©April 15th, 2015 @ 3:00pm
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– Mark Stoops was encouraged by his team’s consistency this Spring and relieved it went by without any major injuries. Kobie Walker had to have ankle surgery and Alex Montgomery needed some loose cartilage removed from his surgical knee, but it could have been — and usually is — much worse.
Stoops liked the energy his team brought to the table everyday. They weren’t simply going through the motions, they were having fun playing football and getting better. “We weren’t perfect for all 15, but the guys were really out there trying to make a conscious effort to improve on the things we point out in the meetings,” Stoops said.
– When the word “fun” came up, it seemed to coincide with “trash talk.” A defensive day of interviews, most of it was spent describing how they slang insults at Boom Williams, Patrick Towles’ Momma and many others.
The one moment from Spring Ball that stood out to Ryan Flannigan was putting Boom on his back after a screen pass, “I popped him one good time,” smacking his hands together with a loud “WHAP!” nodding his head with approval and grinning ear to ear.
The ring-leader of them all was C.J. Johnson (of course). He had to quiet down some early on, but his game can now backup his big mouth. Of the approximately 10 minutes he spent in front of reporters, more than half was spent discussing how he berates the other team. Every time Towles walks up to the line with calls, “Yo Pat, SHUT UP!” He doesn’t exclude trash-talking to the quarterback, working on the receivers and the linemen across from him, “You’re bent over, like ya momma.”
Not even his fellow JUCO defensive linemen can escape his grief. A reporter asked him about Melvin Lewis’ progress, when Melvin came over and decided he was going to try to distract C.J. His plan backfired. Without skipping a beat, C.J. said, “Even though he’s got a weight problem, he can still lineup and tell us what to do.”
The good news is that C.J. isn’t just there to yap at the offense anymore. Stoops said today his improvement has been obvious. Now that he has the plays down and has learned offensive tendencies, there’s less time for thinkin’ and more time for yappin’.
– Stoops said “there was no surprises” upon the release of the videos from the Richmond bar/dorm fight. He’s addressed it with the team before, and they’ve moved on.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 14th, 2015 @ 7:19pm
Earlier today, Richmond police released the security video from Jerzee’s Bar, and tonight, the Herald-Leader obtained another video from the incident involving Drew Barker, Tymere Dubose and Dorian Baker and EKU football players.
Check out the security footage from EKU’s Telford Hall, which shows former Kentucky and current EKU player Patrick Graffree sucker punching Drew Barker at the registration desk. Barker is talking to a woman at the desk when Graffree storms in the building and punches him:
Richmond police released the video from the bar fight between Eastern Kentucky and Kentucky football players a couple months ago. The Courier-Journal obtained a copy, and as you’ll see below, it appears Colton Scurry is the aggressor, and he’s certainly the one who came out on the wrong end of the deal.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 14th, 2015 @ 10:30am
Tim Sullivan over at the Courier-Journal points out a big disadvantage in recruiting that hasn’t really been discussed since a change in legislation early this year.
Now, after putting it to a vote in January, the Power 5 conferences can increase the value of athletic scholarships to the full cost of attendance, meaning student-athletes on a cost-of-attendance scholarship will receive an additional stipend for personal expenses. That stipend varies from school to school depending on what the scholarship covers and what it actually costs to attend the university. The difference at Kentucky (the amount the student-athlete will receive for expenses) is substantially lower than other schools around the SEC, which could play a big role in the recruitment of a blue chip prospect.
As Sullivan writes, “If the University of Kentucky is to remain competitive in recruiting athletes, it may need the merchants of Lexington to raise their prices.”
Here are a few examples from around the league:
School, Old Scholarship/New Scholarship (Difference)
Kentucky, $21,464/$23,748 ($2,284)
Mississippi, $18,204/$22,704 ($4,500)
Mississippi State, $17,294/$22,420 ($5,126)
South Carolina, $21,414/$25,565 ($4,151)
Tennessee, $23,710/$29,376 ($5,666)
For a complete list of schools from the ACC and SEC, and a good quote from Oscar Combs, check out the Courier-Journal here.