Football Season Coverage
By Nick Roush on ©June 26th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
In the middle of a hot Kentucky summer, humidity and UK football bulletin board material are never in short supply.
Asked Kash Daniel about Kentucky's over/under being set at 6 (A highway robbery if you enjoy free money) Here was his response. pic.twitter.com/hQavrLSB1I
— Charlie Walter (@CharlieWalterTV) June 26, 2019
“They’re just a bunch of jackasses. Who cares?”
Kash’s defiant statement from the Big Blue Caravan in Paintsville is incredible. The only thing missing is a prop or two. When I say “prop or two,” I mean fire.
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By Nick Roush on ©June 26th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Following the best Kentucky football season in 40 years, one of the nation’s top college football prognosticators believes the party is coming to an end in 2019.
Phil Steele’s 2019 College Football Preview magazine is on newsstands this week. The 25th edition of the college football talking season Bible does not give Mark Stoops’ team a glowing review. A predictor who relies on a number of formulas to reach his conclusion, Steele’s personally crafted concoctions conclude the Cats will take a step back this fall.
Steele projects Kentucky to finish sixth in the SEC East, ahead of only Vanderbilt, and ranks the Cats 60th out of 130 FBS teams. After three straight postseason appearances, Steele does not believe Kentucky will go to a bowl game following the 2019 season.
Those pessimistic projections come with a few caveats. First and foremost, he does not predict each game. Even though the schedule is favorable for the Cats, UK returns only ten starters. History also plays a significant factor in Steele’s formula too. If Kentucky regresses to the mean of the pre-Stoops era, 2019 will not be pretty.
The thing about the Mark Stoops era is that it has defined the norms. Since he arrived in Lexington six years ago, UK is the only program in America that has not taken a step back. Each year Kentucky’s record has been the same, or improved, from the previous year. Continuing that trend will obviously be difficult, but over the last three years UK has pulled off ten upsets. That’s why Steele hedged his bet in closing by saying a bowl appearance is “probable.”
The preview of Kentucky from the Phil Steele magazine has a lot more information. What you’ll find isn’t too different from the rest of the bulletin board material that will surface during talking season, which unofficially kicks off at SEC Media Days in less than three weeks.
Phil Steele’s UK Preseason All-SEC Selections
- Drake Jackson, First Team Center
- Lynn Bowden, Third Team Wide Receiver
- Kash Daniel, Third Team Linebacker
- Logan Stenberg, Third Team Offensive Lineman
- Quinton Bohanna, Fourth Team Defensive Lineman
- Boogie Watson, Fourth Team Linebacker
By Nick Roush on ©June 25th, 2019 @ 5:30pm
Kentucky’s 2019 football schedule is setting the Wildcats up for success. Even though Mark Stoops must replace the record-breaking Benny Snell and Josh Allen, finding wins will not be so difficult thanks to a favorable schedule.
Kentucky plays eight home games in 2019, four of which are against unranked non-conference foes — Toledo, Eastern Michigan, UT-Martin and Louisville. According to ESPN’s Chris Low, it’s the fifth easiest non-conference slate in the country.
Mark Stoops has done an outstanding job in Lexington. The Wildcats won 10 games a year ago, the first time they’ve won 10 or more games since 1977. But they’re losing several key players from the 2018 team and a ton of experience, so having a cushy nonconference schedule in 2019 won’t be all bad. The Wildcats will play all four games at home, and the only Power 5 opponent is the annual rivalry game against a Louisville team that’s starting over after going 2-10 a year ago.
It’s not just who UK is playing, it’s when they’re playing weak teams too. Low penned a piece on schedule superlatives, and he believes the Cats have the “Cushiest close to a season.”
Kentucky closes the season with a November that has a distinct Volunteer State flavor to it, and three of the four games are at home. Tennessee on Nov. 9, UT-Martin on Nov. 23 and Louisville on Nov. 30 will all come to Kroger Field. The only away game is against Vanderbilt on Nov. 16. None of UK’s four November foes finished with a winning record a year ago.
What does this mean? If Kentucky can upset Florida at home in week three, they can lose at South Carolina and at Mississippi State and still finish the regular season with nine wins. Obviously, there’s a lot of “ifs” that play into that scenario (like taking care of business at The Kroge vs. Tennessee and Mizzou), but it’s not out of reach.
It also means that Louisville sucks. When Louisville is bad at football, being a Kentucky football fan is much easier. Thanks Petrino!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©June 25th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
We have our very first over/under win total set for Kentucky for the 2019 college football season, and it’s both laughably bad and free money for the BBN.
FanDuel set their lines for every team in the nation today, with the Wildcats coming in at six wins overall.
Yes, despite the Wildcats coming off a historic 10-3 season with an extremely favorable schedule this year with eight home games, they believe they will just reach bowl eligibility.
Elsewhere, only two SEC teams had lower set win totals than Kentucky: Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.
Here is how everyone else in the conference fared:
- Texas A&M – 7.5
- Florida – 9
- Alabama – 11
- Auburn – 8
- Georgia – 11
- LSU – 9
- Mississippi State – 8.5
- South Carolina – 6
- Vanderbilt – 5
- Tennessee – 6.5
- Ole Miss – 5
- Arkansas – 6
- Missouri – 6.5
Taking a look at other local schools, Louisville’s over/under was set at 4, while Indiana came in at 6 and Western Kentucky at 5.
By Nick Roush on ©June 25th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Kash Daniel is going home, and he’s bring plenty of friends with him.
UK’s Big Blue Caravan is traveling to the the Paintsville Recreation Center Wednesday morning. Located at 232 Preston St., you’ll be able to meet a plethora of UK football players from 10-11:30 a.m.
Along with UK Football Fan Day, it’s arguably your best chance to get to meet Stoops’ troops. Quarterback Terry Wilson, wide receiver Lynn Bowden, offensive guard Logan Stenberg, linebacker DeAndre Square, defensive lineman Calvin Taylor, defensive lineman Phil Hoskins, cornerback Cedrick Dort and linebacker Jamin Davis are expected to attend the event in Eastern Kentucky.
The last time UK football went to Paintsville, the fine folks of Johnson County responded by selling out Kroger Field to watch the Cats take down Mississippi State. Tomorrow won’t be as rowdy as that night time victory in the rain over a Top 25 team, but I can guarantee you it will be a blast.
By Nick Roush on ©June 24th, 2019 @ 6:15pm
Benny Snell is coming back to the Bluegrass.
Before Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher reports to Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Snell will return to Lexington to host his first football camp.
The Benny Snell Jr. Youth Football Camp will be held July 16 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at Lexington Catholic High School. The non-contact camp is open to boys and girls from 6-16 and costs $65 for the afternoon. Campers will receive instruction from Benny, a camp t-shirt, an autograph, go through drills and learn how to appropriately celebrate touchdowns*.
* Okay, I made that part up. But let’s be honest, I’m sure Benny will bust a move at some point.
You can find more information and register for the camp in advance by clicking here.
The Cats played Yahtzee for the fourth time this weekend and this time there was some historical perspective behind the commitment. Louisville Male High School is apart of the biggest classification in the state of Kentucky and has won seven state championships (1960, 1963, 1964, 1993, 1998, 2015, 2018). Since the 6A classification was started in 2007, Male is one of only four schools to have brought home the hardware. They’re a football powerhouse in the state, but this entire time they have been a Louisville feeder program.
Former Male head coach Bob Redman won two state titles at Male and turned the school into legitimate competition for private school powers St. Xavier and Trinity. During this run, Redman’s son Chris was a blue-chip quarterback who would go onto great success at Louisville under John L. Smith and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. Since then, nearly every FBS prospect out of Male would continue their careers at Louisville.
Everyone knows Michael Bush, but there have been a handful of others. Montrell Jones (who ended up at Louisville after a pit stop at Tennessee), Sergio Spencer, Doug Beaumont, Dexter Heyman, Keion Wakefield, and there’s plenty more. Male has kept all of their alums in the city while Kentucky, under numerous head coaches, could never crack through and land a scholarship athlete.
That now all changes with the addition of high three-star wide receiver Izayah Cummings. The 6-foot-3 wideout led Male with 597 receiving yards on 41 grabs with 11 touchdowns despite missing five games with a leg injury. Cummings pledged on his official visit to Kentucky this weekend and had a lot of interest from surrounding schools. Both Louisville and Purdue were heavily involved in his recruitment with Ohio State having him on campus for an unofficial visit while Vanderbilt. Vince Marrow is making some moves in the city of Louisville and this may be his biggest recruiting win for a bunch of different reasons.
Cummings is at his best on vertical routes. He’s an excellent go-route runner and does his best work when he is able stop, locate the football, and make a jump grab. On his tape, you will see many plays where the quarterback short arms the throw, but that just may be by design. Similar to a basketball player, Cummings goes up for a rebound and then shows some solid run after the catch ability. This is where he is at his best.
Due to his size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) and athletic ability, Cummings does his best work in the red zone. On the road in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, Cummings comes up with a huge touchdown reception on third-and-11 to break a tie in the fourth quarter. The wideout runs your typical fade route and despite the safety bracketing Cummings over the top, Male still decides to toss up the jump ball.
Cummings essentially boxes out the safety while the corner goes running by. He high points the football and makes a clutch catch to help Male march towards a state championship. One of the best attributes Cummings presents is a big target in the red zone and this should translate to the college level.
The biggest issue that Cummings will need to address in college will be his route running and separation ability. At The Opening regional camp, he was clocked at 4.50 in the forty and that should be good enough to create consistent separation on pass routes. However, when you watch the tape, it seems that he struggles to create that consistent separation.
On the sluggo (slant-and-g0) route, Cummings stumbles just a bit and that prevents him from creating space. Thanks to the on target throw it doesn’t matter, but these are things at the next level he will have to work on. Cummings must improve on his technique in running routes. If he is able to become a true weapon on intermediate passes, that will make his ability to go vertical even harder for opposing corners to keep in check.
Cummings will enter Lexington in the class of 2020 as the first Male alum to go to Kentucky on a football scholarship in a very long time. He possesses the attributes that the Kentucky staff has had a hard time attracting on the recruiting. He’s a big, physical receiver who resembles some guys you would see on Sundays. He’s a true weapon in the vertical game and could be very reliable in the red zone.
Cummings has a lot to work on. He has the size and physical ability to be a dominant perimeter blocker, but that is to be determined. He must polish his route running ability because right now he is just a one-trick pony. However, that is a damn strong trick and he has a ton of potential. This is a big time recruiting win for a multitude of reasons and his play on the field should excite you alone.
The dice continue to roll in Lexington with Mark Stoops and his staff picking up their 10th member in the class of 2020. The wide receiver position was a main focus for the football program this weekend with three prospects at that position taking their official visits. The Wildcats got a verbal from Jordan Watkins on Saturday evening and now they will add Earnest Sanders to the class.
Sanders will be the second Michigan pledge in this recruiting cycle joining consensus top-50 prospect Justin Rogers thanks to the recruiting work of corners coach Steve Clinkscale. The man they call Coach Clink is slowly becoming the staff’s second most valuable recruiter behind Vince Marrow and in Sanders the Wildcats are adding a high-three star recruit who had a ton of Power Five interest.
It’s time to step into the film room to breakdown Earnest Sanders’ game. In addition to being a football recruit, Sanders also has the ability to play basketball at the D-I level. He has some great athleticism and has shown some solid route running potential. He will be an outside receiver at Kentucky who will play the position at over 20o pounds.
One of the staples of the Eddie Gran offense has been teeing up deep shots after hammering opposing defenses with the running game and some quick passes. In 2016, Stephen Johnson made a bunch of big throws with the deep post and in the spring game we saw Terry Wilson make some big league throws on that same route. When you watch Earnest Sanders, it’s clear that this route is one of the best parts of his game.
The receiver is a long strider who gets to the top of his route very quickly. He makes a sharp plant step to get inside and that creates separation between the corner and the safety he ran by. He makes the big catch that results in six. This is exactly what Kentucky likes to do and Sanders fits that mold.
Speaking of those short routes to help setup the deep shot, Sanders is also a very effective receiver in the quick game. The Michigan native provides a big target to his quarterback and some impressive run after the catch ability to convert a fourth-and-short into a touchdown.
Sanders shows a little bit of wiggle to make the first two defenders miss on top of the balance to recover after reeling in the high pass. Those are nice, but the acceleration that the wideout shows is what you should be excited about. He takes off down the sideline and blitzes by the safety. The long strider can hit a high speed once he gets a few steps to pickup steam.
The deep balls are nice and the quick game is an easy way to pick up receptions, but at the end of the day a true outside receiver is going to be judged on what they do over the middle of the field. To move the chains and take advantage of the gaps in zone coverage, you need your outside guys to go across the middle and make some plays in traffic. There’s no doubt that Earnest Sanders is comfortable doing that.
On the slant he shows his numbers and makes a solid reception in between a couple of defenders. He then gets upfield and fights through a face mask grab to get to paydirt. Beecher High School asks for Sanders to go across the middle on slants and crossing routes very often and he is comfortable with making grabs in traffic. He will be asked to do the same in college.
At The Opening this spring, Sanders was clocked at 4.72 in the forty-yard dash and is listed at just six-foot tall. That’s a surprise when watching his tape. The Flint, Michigan native plays much bigger and faster than that. He appears to have a very long wingspan to give him a very large catch radius and shows plenty of acceleration to make big time plays in open space.
At the high school level, Sanders is asked to do a lot. Beecher uses him in the wildcat formation, on reverses, constantly puts him in motion, and to do just about everything for them on offense. In addition to that, he plays safety on defense and has the ability to play that in college on top of his basketball skills on the hardwood.
— ??????? ??????? ?? ??? (@erniesands11) July 13, 2018
The receiver has been wanted by a ton of schools on the recruiting trail. Offensive gurus Neal Brown, Jeff Brohm and Mike Leach each wanted him in their offense. Big Ten powers Michigan State and Penn State have been in hot pursuit. This is another solid recruiting win for Kentucky. Earnest Sanders is a straight up football player who will find his way onto the field. Of all the tapes I have evaluated this spring, this one was the best I’ve seen in the 2020 class. Sanders has a ton of tools and is the exact type of player UK has struggled to attract. A playmaking outside receiver who can effect the passing game at all three levels. Give props to Steve Clinkscale for continuing to do damage in Michigan, but there are still some more big fish in that state remaining on Kentucky’s recruiting board.
As sad as it is for UK fans to hear, Benny Snell is gone. He’s taken his school records 48 career touchdowns and 3,873 career rushing yards (and his whirring mouthpiece) to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While Kentucky is losing a lot of veterans next season, including their entire starting secondary, Snell’s presence and leadership will be sorely missed. Therefore, the dilemma facing the Cats’ coaching staff is how they can replace Snell’s production. Although, according to Cats associate head coach Vince Marrow, replacing Snell may not be as difficult as people think.
“I think I told a guy… I said, ‘it may sound funny, the two positions on offense everybody talking about is tight end and running back,’ and I said, ‘we might be better, potentially better, at them two positions. And I got a text from C.J. [Conrad] and Benny when I said that,” Marrow said.
Losing 4-star athlete Wandale Robinson—who could have been a contributor in his first season—to Nebraska means Kentucky has one less weapon at running back. Therefore, the Cats will most certainly have to make up Snell’s contributions by committee.
With only four players listed as running backs, and three of them redshirt freshmen, the Cats are not only inexperienced but also lacking in depth. Also, the amount of time Snell spent on the field was a double-edged sword for the Wildcats as his backups rarely saw the gridiron.
On the bright side, all four backs will have at least a year at UK under their belt and, thanks to the new redshirt rule, two of the three redshirt freshmen have seen some in-game action.
Redshirt freshmen Kavosiey Smoke and Christopher Rodriguez Jr. appeared in two and three games, respectively, with Rodriguez rushing for 43 yards on two carries against Murray State and Smoke rushing 45 yards on four carries against Louisville, including a 37-yard Touchdown run against the Cardinals.
Fellow redshirt freshman Tyler Markray didn’t see the field last season but could step up if injuries become a problem. Marrow believes that the young players have the capability of producing for the Cats, especially Rodriguez.
“When we watched his film, I said he might’ve been the closest to Benny,” Marrow said of Rodriguez. “He’s a downhill [runner], not gonna move out your way… but he’s got a little jitter to him. But he’s a tough, tough running back.”
However, the brunt of the work in the backfield will most likely be carried by junior A.J. Rose. The Cleveland, Ohio native played in all 13 games last season and totaled 442 yards and five touchdowns on 71 carries, including a team-best 75-yard score against Louisville. He also tallied eight receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown against Georgia.
For Kentucky to have a running game remotely resembling last year’s, Rose has to produce for the Cats. He won’t be alone, however, and Marrow says that the coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator and running back coach Eddie Gran, will have the team poised for success next season.
“I think [with] A.J. Rose, all you gotta do is look at his yards per run, and he can take it the distance anywhere, and Smoke is another guy,” said Marrow. “Ya know, Eddie Gran is a good running back coach—that’s what people don’t understand. He’s a good running back coach, had a lot of first-round picks at running back.”
What is clear regardless is that Marrow believes UK’s run game will be solid, and hopefully that confidence will become infectious and make his predictions a reality.
“Just watch these guys,” Marrow said, “cause it’s gonna be a sight.”
By Brent Wainscott on ©June 23rd, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Kash Daniel Reminds us that it’s always a good time to troll Louisville.
At the Kentucky Football Pro Hall of Fame, Kash, alongside Landon Young, Davonte Robinson, and Drake Jackson was recognized to the all Commonwealth team, which includes a few outstanding players who are from Kentucky in each in-state school. From the Univerity of Kentucky to Upike, every team was recognized.
So, while ex-convict Ryan Lemond announced the recipients of the award from the Louisville Cardinals, in this hilarious video Kash seemed unamused and reminded us, that it’s always an appropriate time to remind everyone “L’s Down.”
— Austin Miller (@AustinMillerTV) June 22, 2019
56-10, gotta love it.
Go Cats, L’s Down. @BrentW_KSR
The dice are rolling in Lexington with Kentucky landing three-star offensive lineman Joshua Jones out of Phenix City, Alabama. The small town is located right on the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line and produces FBS talent quite frequently. Jones had a ton of interest from some big time schools and in the end decided to pick Kentucky over LSU. Also included on his list were Florida State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. The 6-foot-5 and 298-pound offensive line prospect is absolutely a fit for what John Schlarman likes to have on the interior.
Joshua Jones plays right tackle for his Phenix City Central team, but it’s expected that Kentucky will move him to guard when he gets to Lexington. When at the college level, UK’s scheme will call on the Jones to move around and pull to pick up play side linebackers on power run plays. Here he shows a little bit of the required athletic ability.
On this counter play, the running back appears to move too fast on the hesitation fake and that puts Jones in a bad spot. The big guy gets to the run blitzing linebacker and delivers a punishing blow that puts the defender into the dirt. The play is, for the most part, blown up but you see the physical strength and power that Jones possesses.
Evaluating high school offensive linemen can be very difficult due to the fact that when they are playing football with pads against defensive players that are much, much smaller. For any high school lineman that is around 300 pounds that is going to be the case and Jones is no different. When watching them it is important to look for motor, technique, and leg drive. Jones shows some of those skills on this play.
Jones loses the battle at the beginning of the play due to hand placement. The right tackle is beat to the point of attack by the defensive end and is at first knocked back. Due to this, his hands go outside and this immediately gives the defensive player the advantage. However, that happens some and any good offensive lineman must have quality recovery skills. Jones flashes those behind some brute force. Once he is locked on with his hands it is hard for the defender to break away and create separation. Once the defender tries to get outside, Jones buries him with leg drive. He’s got some issues to iron out, but the big guy has some tools that are hard to teach.
You want power? He’s got power.
It’s pretty easy to see why UK’s staff was so enamored with Joshua Jones. He’s an athletic kid who will easily play at around 320 pounds in college. Add that solid weight on to his 6-foot-5 frame and he physically looks like a really good SEC offensive lineman. Despite playing strictly tackle in high school, he’s a scheme fit for what Kentucky likes in offensive guards. Derrick LeBlanc was his primary recruiter and this was his biggest recruiting win since joining the staff prior to the 2017 season.
Kentucky has shown they are not afraid to have tall guards and there have been many projected tackles (Luke Fortner, Logan Stenberg, Mason Wolfe) who have turned into full-time guards once they get on campus. Jones has some next level power in run blocking and is doing it all without great technique. Once he gets some seasoning and is able to play out of a three-point stance at Kentucky, that physicality should become even more powerful. He’ll have a lot to prove in pass protection, but he is exactly what UK wants in an offensive guard prospect. This was a very solid deep south recruiting win for Kentucky and it feels like the Wildcats are on their way to an excellent offensive line haul.
Who will be the next to join the 2020 class?
The talking season is just around the corner for the Kentucky football program, but first they must get through some luncheons and award ceremonies. Tonight the Wildcats were at the Lexington Opera House for the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kentucky’s own Corey Peters is being inducted this weekend, but he wasn’t the only member of the Big Blue being honored tonight. Kentucky natives Kash Daniel, Drake Jackson, Davonte Robinson, and Landon Young all became members of the the All-Commonwealth Team. The four Kentucky natives were all members of the 2016 recruiting class and each has turned into a starter at the college level.
Mark Stoops will be relying heavily on these four upperclassmen to provide steady play and leadership to his 2019 football team. The class of 2016 has a chance to be one of the best during the Mark Stoops era and these Bluegrass State natives are a big reason why. It’s good to see their hard work being recognized as they get ready for a huge season.
Labor Day Saturday will be here before we know it.
By Adam Luckett on ©June 21st, 2019 @ 6:00pm
With the new rule that schools can now host official visits in the summer, June has become one of the most important months on recruiting calendar. Kentucky has been on a quite a roll in recent weeks, pulling in eight commits in the last two months and it could be possible that the dice will be hot again this weekend.
Louisville Wide Receiver Duo
Kentucky has been on a remarkable run recruiting in the city of Louisville. Since unleashing recruiting ace Vince Marrow on the city, the Wildcats landed four of the top six Louisville prospects in the class of 2019. If they are able to secure verbals from Izayah Cummings and Jordan Watkins this weekend, that would mean UK would have pledges from the top three Louisville seniors in the class of 2020. That’s big time.
— IC8? (@IzayahCummings) June 20, 2019
Izayah Cummings is a high three-star receiver who is likely at the top of UK’s recruiting board at the position. The 6-foot-3 prospect fits the mold of an outside receiver at the next level and the big man does his best work vertically down the field. Cummings is excellent at high pointing the football and using his big frame to create space and snatch the football. Louisville, Purdue, and West Virginia all really covet Cummings while Ohio State has kicked the tires. It would be a monstrous recruiting win for the program and would be the first time UK landed a scholarship football player from Louisville Male High School in a very long time. That’s not going to make people around the Louisville program too happy.
— Jordan Watkins ? (@jordantwatkins) June 19, 2019
Kentucky got into Butler High School last summer and scored a commitment from wide receiver Tae Tae Crumes and Jordan Watkins is built in a similar mold. The 5-foot-11 receiver ran a blazing 4.34 forty at The Opening Regional last month and has become a camp superstar this summer. The Wildcats offered the speedster back in February and he attended a UK camp two weekends ago. He’s a guy Kentucky will want to use outside to run vertical routes similar to Jeff Badet. Wrapping him up this weekend would be another big recruiting win for Vince Marrow. The big dog appears to feel good about his chances.
Man get them ? rolling. BBN if fired up.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) June 19, 2019
A Familiar Face
Torrance Davis committed to the Wildcats on his visit to Lexington two weeks ago and now he will be returning to campus for another visit.
I will be an Lexington Kentucky tm #BBN home sick??????
— Torrance Davis (@TorranceDavis8) June 20, 2019
The bruising tailback will likely be used to help recruit both Izayah Cummings and Jordan Watkins as it feels to be an “all hands on deck” type weekend to get the two Louisville natives to commit to Kentucky. Davis should, in theory, be able to help in that regard.
Joshua Jones is a high-three star offensive lineman from Phenix City, Alabama who is down to two schools. Both Kentucky and LSU have risen above contenders Florida State and Tennessee. The 6-foot-5, 299-pound prospect is listed as a tackle by most recruiting services, but will most likely play guard at the next level.
— Joshua Jones (@almightybugg) June 12, 2019
Kentucky currently has their right tackle of the future committed in four-star John Young, but they also must address the interior of the line. Getting Jones on board would be a substantial win in the deep south. Stay tuned to KSR on Saturday to see if Jones becomes the next member of John Schlarman’s offensive line room. Derrick LeBlanc appears to be the top recruiter for Jones and this would be his biggest recruiting win since joining the staff.
By Adam Luckett on ©June 20th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Mark Stoops has collected seven full recruiting classes since arriving in Lexington in December 2012 and since then has led the Kentucky program to some historical success on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats have reeled in multiple blue-chip prospects in every class with an average class recruiting ranking of 32.7. UK has been very consistent with six of the seven classes landing in the thirties.
It started with Za’Darius Smith in 2013, continued with Boom Williams in 2014. We saw UK land three in-state blue-chippers in 2016 (Kash Daniel, Drake Jackson, Landon Young) and score two big coups at the end of the 2017 haul by landing Lynn Bowden, Jr. and Joshua Paschal. It has continued in the last two classes where Kentucky has gone into Michigan to land Marquan McCall and made some noise in the city of Louisville by scooping up front seven prospects Jared Casey and JJ Weaver.
Kentucky has done a very good job attracting the blue-chips they can and getting them on the field to make an impact as quickly as possible. To win in the SEC, you need that to happen. However, where Kentucky’s bread is always going to be buttered is leaning heavily on development and evaluations. Kentucky must find some diamonds in the rough and to smooth out some rough edges on players who need some seasoning before they’re ready to contribute on the college level. Entering the 2019 season, UK’s starting 22 is full of players that fit these descriptions.
This fall this football program has a lot going for them, but there is also some major star power that needs to be replaced. One of the mottos around the team is “recruit and develop” and it’s clear that is not just some cheap cliche. The Wildcats have found pieces that will fill the gaps and allow them to once again make some noise in the SEC East.
Let’s start with the backfield on offense. Gone is the program’s all-time leading rusher and one of the biggest stars to play in this program. Benny Snell arrived to Lexington as a mid three-star recruit and eventually became one of the most productive backs in SEC history. Stepping in his shoes to replace him will be another back in that class of 2016.
A.J. Rose was a mid three-star recruit from Cleveland who played quarterback for his Garfield Heights High School team. Despite putting up some monster rushing numbers with a bunch of explosive plays as a dual-threat quarterback, there was not a bunch of Power Five interest. After two years of development, he became a legit RB2 for Kentucky last fall and will have a chance to be a 1,ooo yard rusher this fall.
In the spring game, Bryce Oliver came from seemingly out of nowhere to record 105 yards on eight receptions with multiple contested catches against some press coverage. The Fort Lauderdale native was a late addition to the class of 2018 and was the lowest rated of the four receivers added in that recruiting haul. Oliver had a handful of Power Five offers, but it appears UK may have found a gem in the 6-foot-1 wideout.
Oliver doesn’t have the top notch speed and separation ability you would like to have in an alpha outside receiver, but it’s clear he’s a good route runner with a solid catch radius. Outside of Lynn Bowden, Kentucky is in a desperate need for another slot option to emerge and I have a feeling that Oliver will become that guy in 2019.
At tight end, C.J. Conrad leaves some big shoes to fill after the four-star recruit became a full-time starter during true freshman season. However, low three-star prospect Justin Rigg has proven to be a very good blocker who is a reliable pass catcher. The redshirt sophomore has next level size for the position and UK is in really good shape with him seeing an increased workload. Vince Marrow is on the record stating there will be no drop off at the tight end position.
Just on offense there are plenty of three-star guys set for big roles, but it doesn’t stop there. Kentucky has done a great job with evaluations on the defensive side of the ball including a defensive line player who wasn’t even ranked by most major recruiting services.
Calvin Taylor, Jr. was a late addition to the 2015 recruiting class and was what most would consider an after thought. The Augusta, Georgia native was unranked in the 247 Sports Composite and chose Kentucky over offers from Charlotte and Temple. After some years of development in the program, he became UK’s best defensive lineman last fall.
The 6-foot-9 player has played both end and tackle for the Wildcats and is coming off a career year. The redshirt junior started nine games in 2018 and was second on the team with 9.5 run stuffs. Kentucky’s front seven will lead the way for the 2019 season and Taylor is a big reason why.
Taylor has been the most productive, but Quinton Bohanna may be the most talented player in UK’s defensive line room. The junior nose tackle was a low three-star prospect in the class of 2017 despite collecting 91 tackles and 19 sacks in his senior year of high school. He picked the Wildcats over Ole Miss and started the last five games of his true freshman season. He’s battled some injuries, but when healthy he is an excellent nose man who will be a catalyst in Brad White’s defense.
On the edge, Kentucky loses Josh Allen and his 17 sacks but they return a solid secondary piece. Boogie Watson was a low three-star or two-star prospect depending on your preferred recruiting service in the class of 2016. After redshirting, the Sam linebacker has produced seven sacks in the last two seasons with seven starts under his belt. He’ll become UK’s go-to edge rusher this season and needs just 10 sacks to break into the top-5 in program history.
In the secondary, Kentucky is replacing all four starters from last season and one guy expected to start was a bit of an afterthought in the 2017 recruiting class who picked Kentucky over Cincinnati. Cedrick Dort, Jr. is a 6-foot-1 corner who will step into the boundary corner spot filled by Lonnie Johnson and Chris Westry last season. Despite his stature, he was a really good tackler coming out of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Kentucky is retooling the back of its defense and the coaches are hoping they’ll hit gold with another undervalued recruit.
The front seven will be getting all of the attention, but the best player entering 2019 will be safety Davonte Robinson. The Henry Clay alum was a mid three-star recruit in the class of 2016, but it hasn’t taken him long to contribute at the college level. The redshirt junior played a ton during his junior season recording 42 tackles while playing both safety and slot corner. He will be an integral part of UK’s defense and will have a great shot at All-SEC honors.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Robinson become an NFL Draft prospect this season. Despite his low ranking, Kentucky’s staff was able to get the 2016 prospect to commit in 2014 and totally shut down his recruitment. If he didn’t do that, there’s no doubt he would’ve became a blue-chip prospect.
Heading towards the month of July, 13 of Kentucky’s projected 22 starters were ranked a mid three-star prospect or lower. Even with the Wildcats improving their chops on the recruiting trail, this is still a developmental program and will likely stay that way as long as they’re playing college football.
If Kentucky is to continue their winning ways in 2019, the Wildcats will have a bunch of three-stars making plays.
Bryan Berezowitz, an upcoming senior wide receiver on the Kentucky football team, recently posted this gem of his head coach on Twitter and wow, a picture truly is worth 1,000 words. But I’ll limit myself to under 200.
Who wore it better? #41 pic.twitter.com/uWU2qH1Hm2
— Bryan Berezowitz (@Bbrez_11) June 19, 2019
There is a lot going on here in such a simple photo.
First off, of course Stoops wore No. 41. The best player he’s ever coached at Kentucky – Josh Allen – also sported the No. 41, but in blue and white instead of black and yellow. Which isn’t a coincidence – it’s the football Gods taking control of destiny. Both men also played on defense. But as for the question at hand? Allen most definitely wore it better. Stoops is put at a disadvantage due to those ugly, plain Pittsburgh-Steeler-looking Iowa Hawkeye jerseys. Baby Stoops needs to work on that smile, too. Drop a chrome helmet on the head coach and maybe I’ll reconsider my decision.
Who do you all think wore it better?
By Drew Franklin on ©June 19th, 2019 @ 2:45pm
Fresh off an official visit to Florida, four-star defensive tackle Lamar Goods has rescinded his commitment to the University of Kentucky. Crap.
Goods, who is ranked as the 30th-best defensive tackle in the Class of 2020 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, announced his decision via Twitter with this statement Wednesday afternoon:
“After long and thought out conversations with my mom and I we have made the decision that it is in our best interests to open my recruitment and announce that I have decommited from the university of Kentucky.thank you for all that the staff and coaches that have been amazing during this process.”
The Canadian, now a Connecticuter (?), had originally pledged his commitment to Kentucky back on April 8 after being recruited by new defensive coordinator Brad White. When he committed, Goods said, “I’m a big believer of going with your gut and knowing that it’s the right place if you truly feel it is.”
I guess that gut feeling wore off.
It is unclear at this time if he will still consider the Cats as he reopens his recruitment to welcome new suitors like stupid Florida.
The Kentucky football team has found plenty of bulletin board material going into the 2019 season, and Pro Football Focus wanted to make sure they didn’t add to the list.
In their official preseason poll, PFF ranked Kentucky No. 19 overall and ninth in the SEC.
SEC foes ahead of the Cats? Alabama (2), LSU (3), Georgia (4), Florida (8), Auburn (13), Texas A&M (14), Mississippi State (15), and Missouri (17).
Take a look at the entire list:
–@PFF has released their Top 25:?
6 Ohio St
15 Miss St
21 Iowa St
23 Wash St
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) June 18, 2019
In not-so-optimistic news, Athlon Sports has Kentucky at No. 48 in their preseason rankings:
Meanwhile, ESPN, USA Today, and CBS Sports failed to include the Wildcats in their preseason top-25 rankings.
While Kentucky lost a lot of talent on both sides of the football from their historic 10-3 season, the Cats still have elite playmakers at their disposal, depth, and a solid mix of young talent and seasoned veterans.
While coaches always tend to be optimistic going into every season, guys like Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow, Brad White, Lynn Bowden, and Kash Daniel all touched on their program not getting enough National during their appearance on KSR on Tuesday.
I guess they’ll have to prove to Pro Football Focus why they are right and everyone else why they are wrong again this season.
I like my team.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Of all the newsworthy stuff that came out of Tuesday’s football edition of the KSR morning radio show — and there was a lot — it is easy to overlook Vince Marrow’s comments about his tight ends.
In answering a call about having to replace the irreplaceable CJ Conrad, who is off to a fantastic start in his first summer with the New York Football Giants, Marrow suggested the next man up, Justin Rigg, can be just as good, if not better. He called Rigg, “your prototypical tight end.”
“Man, I love C.J. and he’s doing so awesome with the Giants, but I think Justin has the potential to be better than C.J,” Marrow said. “He’s a big blocker, he has soft hands, he’s athletic, he’s a basketball player.”
“And then you got Keaton Upshaw,” Marrow continued, going right down the tight end depth chart. “If you don’t know him, you’re going to find out real quick. He’s 6’6, 250, about a 4.65 (40-yard dash) guy, another basketball player; just a freakish athlete. I think people are really going to love him.”
“Then Brenden Bates, we got him from (Archbishop) Moeller, another traditional school, and he’s 6’5, 250.”
“Trust me,” Marrow told fans. “I coach that position. I am the least worried about that position. I think we are going to be very fine and these guys are going to do a good job for us this year.”
We’ll need to see it before we buy all the way into the Rigg will be better than Conrad talk, because Conrad is one of the best the school’s ever had. But in Rigg’s only full season so far, last year as a redshirt freshman, he flashed some potential with four catches for 45 yards, while playing in all 13 games with two starts.
Behind him, Upshaw and Bates will get their share of opportunities in their first full seasons as redshirt freshmen, although Bates saw limited action in two games last year. Another player that went unmentioned, incoming freshman Nikolas Ognenovic, will also be in the tight end room.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 18th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
We’ve already shared what Vince Marrow, Lynn Bowden, Josh Allen, and Brad White had to say on the Kentucky Football takeover of KSR this morning, but what about the head man Mark Stoops? Stoops sat in on hour two of the show and discussed his team’s progress since the ten-win season. Here are five highlights.
He teased Calipari about his new contract this morning
On Thursday, John Calipari’s new 10-year, $86 million contract extension became official, and Stoops couldn’t help but tease Cal about it this morning while getting coffee.
“I said, ‘I saw your contract and I’m here for a loan!’ We started laughing, and then I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get you. I’m going to go to that camp store and say, give me this, this and this, and all those things and put it on Cal’s tab.’ That’s what I’m going to do.”
It’s vacation time for the coaches, but the players are working
With the big camps of the summer now over, most of the coaching staff is taking the next few weeks off to spend with their families; however, the team is on campus for summer workouts, so Stoops is handing the reins to his veterans, including Kash Daniel.
“You’ve got Coach Daniel here next to me. He’ll take over and run the defensive meetings here when the guys do go out of town and really, that’s what we need. We need leaders to really have a great summer. There’s only so much we’re allowed to do with these guys, so when we leave, we’ve gotta have great leadership to step up.”
How does Coach Daniel feel about his squad so far?
“Everything in that 7-on-7 we did yesterday was crisp,” Kash said, mentioning how the team-run workout flowed like a normal practice. “For me, that gives me a lot of confidence going into the season, saying, hey, if we’re doing this right now in June, we’re going to be five steps ahead of where we were last year going into camp.”
Stay hungry, stay humble
Along those same lines, Stoops said the team doesn’t have a big head after last season’s success; in fact, it just made them hungry for more.
“We don’t ever go around beating our chest around here,” Stoops said. “In this business, you have every seven days to get humbled so you always keep things in perspective. We’re confident but we are hungry and we always try to have a chip on our shoulder. That’s why these coaches are in here on vacation. That’s why Kash is here. That’s why we’re here all the time. It’s a competitive business. We’re competitive. We’re not here to lose. We’re going to do everything in our power to win and be successful and that’s not going to stop. I want these guys to have an edge and an attitude about them but I want them to keep things in perspective.”
Recruiting is “really good”
Stoops couldn’t mention any names or specifics, but said he’s pleased with how recruiting’s going, which has to be the understatement of the century.
“Recruiting’s going really good,” Stoops said. “We’re on some great guys. These [coaches] have done a great job recruiting. They’ve been busy. We’ve had more guys on this campus this offseason than ever before at this point. Some really quality guys.”
Stoops said the ten-win season helped changed the perception of the program, making it easier for coaches to lure big names in for unofficial and official visits.
“Once we get people on this campus, they love it. We fight that — and we’re changing that — but that 100-year history, it’s a lot easier for them to look at some history of some other places in the SEC. When we’re bringing them from the south, we’ve got to bring them here and get them on campus and then they see that and they’re like, ‘Wow. This place is incredible. We love the atmosphere. We love what’s going on.'”
“We’re not going backwards”
A ten-win season that culminated with a New Year’s Day bowl and five draft picks is tough to follow, but Stoops vowed to do everything he can to prevent the program from backsliding.
“Keep on winning,” Stoops said. “I don’t ever make predictions, never have, with games or numbers or anything, but I’ve just simply said — and fortunately, to this point, it’s always held true — we’re not going backwards. We haven’t gone backwards in six years and I don’t plan on going backwards this year.”
Listen to his appearance below starting midway through Hour 2:
Miss today’s show? Stop what you’re doing and download the podcast because the Kentucky Football coaching staff killed it.
Associate head coach/tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow hosted hour one with special guests Lynn Bowden and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, while new defensive coordinator Brad White hosted hour two with appearances from Josh Allen, Kash Daniel, and head coach Mark Stoops. We’ve shared plenty of highlights from the show so far, but be sure to listen to it all on podcast:
Get ready for more football tomorrow as Charles Walker and Austin MacGinnis join Ryan, Drew, and Shannon in studio. Matthew Mitchell gets his turn on the mic on Thursday, while ESPN’s Laura Rutledge wraps up the guest host schedule on Friday. Matt will be back before you know it.