Football Season Coverage
By Nick Roush on ©May 19th, 2018 @ 8:45pm
The Kentucky football team’s annual mission trip to Ethiopia continues to produce heart-warming moments.
Three offensive linemen are representing Mark Stoops’ team in Ethiopia — offensive tackle “Big” George Asafo-Adjei, offensive guard Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings and long-snapper Tristan Yeomans. They’ve accomplished quite a lot in the last week.
The trio started the week by delivering blankets to more than 40 widowed women to warm them during the rainy season. I wonder how many blankets Big George, arguably the strongest guy on the football team, can benchpress?
There were quite a few cute Kodak moments when they visited a local school.
Today they built wooden shoe-shine boxes that will provide a means of income for 35 men.
The trio of Wildcats will return from the life-changing experience on Monday with plenty of stories to share.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 18th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
2019 three-star DE Shawnkel Knight-Goff is going to have to switch out that red prom suit for Kentucky blue…
This afternoon, the No. 5 prospect in the state of Kentucky (Louisville Doss High School) announced his commitment to KENTUCKY!
Knight-Goff, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound DE/OLB, received an offer from the Cats back in July of 2016.
— Shawnkel Knight-Goff (@itskeltime1) July 27, 2016
Almost two years later, he made it official.
Kentucky assistant coach Vince Marrow called the Yahtzee, and Rivals’ Justin Rowland later confirmed it was indeed Knight-Goff.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) May 18, 2018
Knight-Goff becomes the fifth commitment to Kentucky over the last two weeks, joining West Jessamine OL Eli Cox, South Carolina DB Jalen Geiger, Florida quarterback Nik Scalzo, and Florida OL Jake Pope.
According to Justin Rowland, Knight-Goff, who was on an unofficial visit to Kentucky today, is expected to play outside linebacker for the Cats in 2019.
I watched Doss play safety at a 7v7 passing tournament at Commonwealth last summer. He's listed as a defensive end. THAT kind of versatility. I'm told he's most likely an OLB at Kentucky.
— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) May 18, 2018
The newest commitment chose the Cats over offers from Louisville, Purdue, Cincinnati, and Indiana.
Speaking of Louisville, the Cards held 57% of Knight-Goff’s Crystal Ball predictions, including two submissions over the last three days:
What a beautiful sight.
Watch our newest Cat go to work:
By Nick Roush on ©May 18th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Former Kentucky wide receiver Kayaune Ross has signed his first NFL contract. Ross earned the roster spot with an impressive performance at the Colts’ rookie mini-camp.
A junior college transfer, Ross came into his own in 2017 after an injury-plagued first season in Lexington. The 6’6″ wide receiver caught 16 passes for 219 yards last year. The Kentucky coaching staff expected him to use that momentum for an outstanding 2018 season, but his college eligibility ended prematurely.
Instead of preparing to play for UK next season, he’s making money with the Colts and hanging out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a bucket-hat. Not too shabby.
By Nick Roush on ©May 16th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
Bowling season is here, and no, I’m not talking about the KSR bowling league.
Yesterday football fanatics got their fancies tickled when the 2018-19 bowl schedule was released. The following bowls all have ties to the SEC.
- Birmingham Bowl, December 22
- Independence Bowl, December 27
- Texas Bowl, December 27
- Music City Bowl, December 28
- Belk Bowl, December 29
- CFB Playoff, December 29
- Liberty Bowl, December 31
- TaxSlayer Bowl, December 31
- Outback, January 1
- Citrus, January 1
- Sugar Bowl, January 1
- National Championship, January 7
When college football nerds get a schedule, the next step is obvious: fill it in with teams. That’s exactly what the Sporting News did. However, they did not slate Kentucky in any of the bowl games with SEC tie-ins.
The Sporting News predicts Kentucky will play Army in the Military Bowl. This year’s game will be December 31 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The Military Bowl has conference tie-ins to the ACC and American, but the Sporting News does not care about those silly conference tie-ins.
If this were to come to fruition, Freddie Maggard would be the happiest person on Earth…until he has to decide who he’s going to cheer for, Army or Kentucky?
By Nick Roush on ©May 14th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky’s 2019 class now has a quarterback. Nik Scalzo is an atypical recruit that could be the perfect fit for Kentucky.
The right-hander from Ft. Lauderdale first entered Kentucky’s radar last summer when Scalzo made the trip to Lexington for a camp at Kroger Field. Undersized with little hype, the 5’11” athlete did just enough to catch Darin Hinshaw’s eye.
Between last summer’s camp and today’s commitment, Scalzo threw for more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns, earned 15 scholarship offers and is now considered the No. 16 dual-threat quarterback in America.
Eddie Gran has developed a knack for finding talent early in South Florida. It’s what make Kentucky such a coveted destination.
“He was one of my first believers,” Scalzo told Justin Rowland after he received an offer at Kentucky’s Junior Day in February. At the time, only a handful of small schools and Ivy Leaguers were interested. Once Gran and Hinshaw got involved, it completely changed Scalzo’s recruiting outlook. The offer from Kentucky all but sealed the deal, until Hinshaw visited Scalzo’s home four days ago.
Scalzo has succeeded against some of the best competition the country has to offer.
A starter for Cardinal Gibbons since he was a sophomore, the only team Scalzo has not beat is American Heritage, the Power-Five talent producing perennial powerhouse that finished the season ranked in the top five nationally. Scalzo led a tremendous comeback in the final quarter of the Regional Final, but fell to American Heritage in triple overtime to end his junior season.
Once the offseason hit, the Kentucky commit found more success on the camp circuit. Last month Scalzo quarterbacked the South Florida Express in the Adidas 7-on-7 Championship in Torrance, California. Dubbed by 247’s Steve Wiltfong as “one of the most talented 7-on-7 fields of all-time,” Scalzo threw a 40-yard touchdown in the championship game to bring home a title.
He LOVES the Baker Mayfield Comparison
It’s not just because he likes to plant flags at midfield after big wins, like he did following the Adidas National Championship.
Baker 2.0 pic.twitter.com/g7uIbXjhgk
— Nik Scalzo (@NikScalzo) April 16, 2018
Or because he shares an affinity for headbands.
Like Mayfield, Scalzo is an under-sized quarterback that plays with a chip on his shoulder. Teams were hesitant to recruit Scalzo, so he had to work hard to prove to Kentucky that he was worth the scholarship. He did that by using a skill-set that’s similar to the Heisman Trophy winner’s. He runs plenty of RPOs, but is most explosive when he’s moving around in the backfield, slinging the ball to all corners of the football field.
Is it fair to compare Scalzo to the Heisman Trophy winner? Probably not, but he embraces and welcomes the comparison (one UK’s coaches use) with open arms.
When point guards or quarterbacks commit early, they often pledge to recruit others to join their class. Scalzo does not have to look far to find talented UK recruits.
Cardinal Gibbons’ offense features three players who hold UK offers: three-star tight end Nikolas Ognenovic, three-star running back Vincent Davis and three-star offensive lineman Jamari Williams. Ognenovic and Williams are in the middle of a Louisville-Kentucky recruiting battle. Playing with their high school QB at the next level might be just the advantage Kentucky needs.
A Wise Guy
Harvard, Cornell and Dartmouth weren’t recruiting Scalzo because he’s an idiot. Last fall he posted a report card with a 4.92 GPA, a grade-point average that should be impossible.
There will be Speculation
Kentucky fans have been here before. They remember what happened after Mac Jones Tweeted, “We’re building something great.” They also remember when Jarren Williams committed, de-committed, re-committed, then de-committed again. Those were the last two quarterbacks to commit this early in the process.
While many will wait to share their excitement until later, Stoops will continue to target quarterbacks early in the recruiting process. Why? Because they kind of have to.
“A lot of times you develop that relationship early and you get honed in with a certain guy,” Stoops said last fall shortly after Jarren Williams de-committed. “And the quarterbacks are always looking for that perfect fit and you as a program are looking for the perfect fit.”
Will this be the perfect fit for Scalzo and UK? Only time will tell. If the commit sticks, the Cats have a gunslinger who plays with a chip on his shoulder; the perfect person to lead the SEC’s perennial underdog.
By Eli Mitchell on ©May 13th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
A few of the Kentucky football players put together a touching tribute to their Moms to remind them how appreciated they are on every day but especially today.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who are our heart and soul! pic.twitter.com/wotF5aIctS
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) May 13, 2018
Chris Westry, Lonnie Johnson, Darius West, and Drake Jackson all made special shout-outs to make their Mom’s day a little more special.
Happy Mother’s day to all the BBN mom’s out there!
By Eli Mitchell on ©May 13th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
A local product received a big time offer over the weekend as Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen got the call from Jim Harbaugh and Co. to come play at Michigan.
The 6’2 180 pound Allen has received a lot of interest from the Kentucky staff over the last two years after impressive showings at Kentucky’s summer camps. He has a great relationship with quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw particularly.
Allen is preparing for his junior year after throwing for 2,873 yards and 33 touchdowns with just 9 interceptions at a completion percentage of 62% in 13 games in his sophomore season.
He currently holds offers from Kentucky, Troy, Bowling Green State, Eastern Kentucky, and Michigan.
Look out for further updates concerning Allen’s recruitment as the offers are about to start piling in this summer. He is definitely a guy that the Kentucky staff will consciously observe through the next two years.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 13th, 2018 @ 4:15pm
This morning, Kentucky four-star commitment Keontra Smith flipped his commitment to Miami (FL), and Vince Marrow wasn’t too happy about it.
“We only want guys that want to be here. Trust me BBN we are going to get it done,” he tweeted.
Just a few hours later, the Cats found their replacement.
Three-star cornerback Jalen Geiger has committed to KENTUCKY!
This has been an amazing experience for me and my family. I’ve met people and seen things I’ve never imagined. Recruiting has definitely been a challenge but God showed me the way… I’m committed. #BBN pic.twitter.com/9742g94L0D
— Jalen Geiger (@jalengeiger) May 13, 2018
Geiger, a 6-foot-1 corner out of Columbia, SC, chose Kentucky over Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Boston College, among others.
The newest Wildcat visited Lexington back in April, and earned a scholarship from Kentucky soon thereafter.
Watch his highlights below:
By Nick Roush on ©May 12th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
One of the KSR Football Podcast’s biggest fans, Amy Harwood-Jackson, rocked a KSR hat during today’s half marathon in Paducah. I’ll provide some football notes, you teach me how to run more than ten miles. Thanks.
Future Cat Trains with Todd Gurley
Before he gets to Lexington, one Florida receiver is preparing for his Kentucky career with an NFL star. Yesterday Akeem Hayes — a slot receiver from UK’s Chaminade-Madonna pipeline in Hollywood, Florida — worked out with the L.A. Rams’ Todd Gurley.
Gurley Tweeted after their workout, “#BBN got them one keep grinding youngin .” That’s quite the praise from a two-time Pro Bowling, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Beau Allen Picks up Michigan Offer
Junior-to-be Beau Allen now holds an offer from the University of Michigan, just his fourth scholarship offer. Jim Harbaugh’s move comes just a few days removed from an excellent performance at Rivals’ Columbus camp. The pocket passer from Lexington Catholic is a UK legacy recruit with a Kentucky scholarship offer.
Lonnie Johnson doesn’t Hate the Checkerboard
It was a long, tiresome week of debate. Are the checkerboard uniforms good? The popular opinion is a flat, “no.” However, it’s hatred primarily rests on the sides of UK’s basketball uniforms where the art of subtlety is gone. The football uniforms are a different story.
The checkerboards on shoulders are actually a nice accent piece for an otherwise boring uniform. I’m not the only person who is a fan. Senior cornerback Lonnie Johnson likes them so much, he threw them on some custom cleats.
Feel that In-State Recruiting Momentum?
After speaking with Wandale Robinson this morning, I thought, “Man, this kid sounds like he’s on the verge of committing to Kentucky.” I’m not alone.
Sources within the program like where they stand with Robinson after yesterday’s visit. The same could be said for J.J. Weaver, although there’s not quite as much confidence surrounding the defensive end. Louisville and Purdue have dug their claws in deep, but today’s visit pushed the Cats back near the top.
The negative narrative regarding Kentucky’s in-state recruiting is slowly deteriorating as Vince Marrow has put in extra effort within the state over the last three weeks. After picking up a commitment from Eli Cox, a few more dominoes could fall in the foreseeable future.
It’s time for upcoming high school football players to save the date.
Throughout the month of June Mark Stoops’ Kentucky football program will be hosting exposure camps for high school athletes. Open for all, it gives kids an opportunity to be coached by some of the best in the SEC. They also will bring some of UK’s most talented recruits to Kroger Field for the Primetime Camps on June 9 and 10.
You’ll find more details and be able to register here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 11th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Zero players from the Kentucky football team shook the commissioner’s hand in this year’s NFL Draft, marking the second consecutive season a Wildcat has failed to get selected.
Rival media members and analysts poked fun at the Cats for back-to-back goose eggs, failing to realize the circumstances behind the situation.
Last year was understandable. This year, however, Kentucky returned all of their NFL Draft talent for senior campaigns, namely Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, and CJ Conrad, among others.
Now, 2019 NFL mock drafts are starting to leak out, and Kentucky players are dominating the competition.
We’ve already seen Allen and Edwards listed in the first and second rounds of a few mock drafts, with several other Cats following in the next few rounds.
Now, ESPN insider Mel Kiper Jr. has released his list of top NFL prospects at each position for the 2018-19 college football season, and two Kentucky players are listed as the No. 1 overall prospects at their respective positions.
Josh Allen is listed as the No. 1 overall outside linebacker of all draft-eligible players next season, with CJ Conrad listed as the No. 1 draft-eligible tight end in all of college football.
For comparison’s sake, the No. 1 outside linebacker and tight end drafted this season were both selected in the top-41.
In a bit of a shocker, however, neither Benny Snell nor Mike Edwards made the list of top running backs or safeties.
I may be biased, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if we see all four Wildcats move into the top five of their respective seasons before the end of next season.
Former Kentucky defensive end/linebacker Denzil Ware will finish his college career close to home. Ware announced on his private Instagram account that he will play his final season at Jacksonville State.
Ware graduated from UK last week and will be eligible to play immediately. A native of Opp, Alabama, the OVC school is just four hours from his hometown.
The first four-star prospect signed by Mark Stoops, Ware finished his three-year Kentucky career with 13 sacks, 157 tackles and 57 for loss.
By Nick Roush on ©May 11th, 2018 @ 10:30am
Mark Stoops’ contract has entered somebody’s crosshairs.
Jennifer X. Williams of The Spun composed a list of the top five overpaid coaches in college football. Atop the list was Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. At the bottom was Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Williams’ rationale:
2017 salary: $3.75 million
Where it ranked nationally: No. 22
Win/loss record to date: 26-36
Last year, Mark Stoops signed a contract extension through 2022. His new deal will pay him upwards of $4.75 million between 2021-22. And yet Stoops has only produced two winning seasons in which the Wildcats were barely over .500.
“Barely over .500” does not sound good to an outsider, but it sounds much better than the 2-10 seasons Kentucky fans suffered through for many years. Expectations are relative, and Kentucky football’s don’t go much further than bowl eligibility.
It’s all not a good idea to compare Stoops’ salary to the rest of the nation. The SEC pays its coaches more than any other conference. Now the most tenured coach in the SEC East, Stoops’ salary ranked tenth in the conference in 2017.
However, there are quite a few Stoops naysayers that would agree with Williams. Stoops has consecutive seven-win seasons, but has failed to get his team over the top in big games against the best opponents (see: Auburn, Georgia and Florida twice).
Taking the next step will not be easy against next year’s schedule. But if Stoops can get to eight wins in 2018, nobody will describe him as “overpaid,” especially if the Cats can take down Florida, Georgia or Texas A&M.
Life after football takes players on many different routes. Patrick Towles is taking one less traveled. In a blog post released on Twitter, the former Kentucky quarterback announced he has quit his job to become a Catholic missionary.
“My path to accepting this job was all but ordinary,” Towles wrote. “It included lots of ups, lots of downs, low amounts of clarity, and a whole lot of trust. Although I don’t think anyone who decides to quit their job, leave their home, or shelf the expectations that they had for their life to be all the way sane either.”
The 2011 winner of Kentucky’s Mr. Football award, Towles was UK’s primary starting quarterback in 2014 and 2015. He finished his UK career with 5,099 passing yards to rank sixth in school history. A graduate transfer to Boston College for his final season, he helped lead the Eagles to a Quick Lane Bowl victory in his final game.
Once his NFL aspirations fizzled, Towles stayed on the gridiron. Last season he returned to the Bluegrass as a volunteer coach at Paris High School. His day job was at a bank, but that did not fulfill his calling.
“The Lord was calling me back to Mission,” he said.
Towles’ mission is to help people who wear shoes he once wore. He will serve for an organization called FOCUS in their Varsity Catholic group. The group says their missionaries “mentor college athletes within their demanding schedules, teaching them to glorify God in their sport and in their daily lives.”
Congrats to Towles for finding his calling, and for being brave enough to choose a path in life many are too afraid to follow.
Eli Brown’s transfer from the University of Kentucky football program came as a bit of a surprise.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2017, Brown saw playing time in 12 games and totaled 38 tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass deflection on the season. His biggest performance came in the road win at South Carolina, when he made six tackles and one big stop for a loss while filling in for the injured Jordan Jones.
It looked as if Brown was poised for another good year within the UK linebacking corps in 2018 — presumably in an even bigger role with all the new playing time to be had — but he instead chose to leave for another program. He announced this past spring that he would return to Bowling Green, Ky., to play for Western Kentucky.
Today we found out why.
In a story from Larry Vaught, we learn Brown’s transfer was due to family reasons. He has three younger siblings he’s responsible for, since the passing of their mother a few years ago.
“I had to take care of my family,” Brown said.
Then he went on to tell me the story about having two younger sisters in foster care — one younger brother (age 16) still is. They were in Florida with his mother before she passed away a few years ago. Once they were old enough to get out of foster care, his sisters came to Lexington to be with him.
“It’s hard to take care of two sisters while in college and having to pay the bills. My family decided it would be best if I would move back home (to Bowling Green) and get some support to help me,” Brown said. “The house I grew up in is right down the street from Western. I can walk to the stadium. I truly loved UK but I have to do this to take care of my family.”
He said trying to take care of his sisters has been the “most difficult thing” he’s ever had to do. He was the second oldest of his mom’s five children. His older brother has been in and out of prison.
I highly encourage you to read more from Vaught’s conversation with Brown. It provides a much better understanding of why he had to go, and how much he has on his plate at only 22 years old. Go read it now.