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Football Season Coverage

Kash Daniel honored on roadside sign in hometown

kash-daniel

Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel still has a lot of football ahead that’ll certainly make his hometown of Paintsville proud; however, he has already done enough to earn himself a spot on a roadside sign showing off Paintsville High’s accomplishments.

@PVilleTigers

@PVilleTigers

But like I said, there is a lot of football ahead for Kash Daniel.

And we’re pretty excited about it.


Courtney Love named to Lott Trophy Watch List

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Some news out of the football program today as linebacker Courtney Love was one of 42 players named to the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.

Named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity (IMPACT). Love does all of that, while returning for another year after starting in all 13 games and ranking third on the team in tackles with 76 in 2016.

Off the field, Love was named to the 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll and graduated in May with a degree in community and leadership development. He is currently working on a second degree in communications and serves as one of UK football’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representatives.

Go Courtney.


Marcus McWilson makes the Raiders’ Roster

Barry Westerman | UK Athletics

Barry Westerman | UK Athletics

Rookie minicamps are wrapping up and former Wildcats are learning their fate.  Marcus McWilson is one of five Raiders to survive the first round of cuts, the team announced today.

McWilson is one of the few former Cats to make the early cut.  Jojo Kemp was not signed after last week’s minicamp with the Bucs.  Jon Toth (Rams), Josh Clemons (Saints), Patrick Towles (Texans) participated in camps this weekend.  According to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register, Toth was on the field but did not participate, nor was he signed ahead of OTAs.

Throughout McWilson’s four-year career at Kentucky, he accounted for 173 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 passes defended, 4 interceptions and two touchdowns.  It’ll be hard to forget his Pick Six against Mississippi State after Stoops tackled him on the sideline (but that wasn’t Stoops’ scariest moment in the video below).

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Stoops on the pros and cons of the early signing period

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Last week, the NCAA approved an early signing period for football, which will run from December 20-22, allowing players who want to go ahead and shut down their recruitments the chance to do so. The early signing period was a popular topic on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, and when asked, Mark Stoops said the staff will definitely use it to lock in players who are ready to sign in December.

“I think yes, definitely. If we feel very comfortable with the player and we have a good feel for them personally, for their character and their families and we can get it knocked out, I definitely think we would use it to try and get them locked up.”

While the early signing period is generally seen as a win for programs like Kentucky, Stoops was careful to point out that it could have drawbacks, such as the effect it will have on the recruiting calendar.

I think, like I said, there’s good and bad. If you look through the years, it certainly could have benefitted us in certain ways. I think it’s good as far as having the early signing period, having that ability. As far as changing the calendar and all those things, when you package it together I don’t think I was total in favor of that, but you have to make due with the rules that were given to you.”

“So, a player that we have committed that I know very well that we’ve had a relationship with for a year, year and a half or so, if you want to clean that up and get him signed in December, I see no harm in that. With the change and bringing in the visits so early and all that, that’s something that’s going to take some thought and we’ll work our way through that.”

In Stoops and Marrow we trust.


Jarren Williams RECOMMITS to Kentucky in live interview on KSR

Jarren Williams RECOMMITS to Kentucky in live interview on KSR

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If you’re listening to Kentucky Sports Radio, then you just heard the exciting news: four-star dual threat quarterback Jarren Williams just recommitted to Kentucky live on air.

“I’m recommitting to Kentucky,” Williams said on KSR. “I prayed about it and my heart has always been with Kentucky, so I’m making that move.”

After receiving offers from schools like Alabama, Florida, and LSU, the 6’2″ Georgia native reopened his recruitment on April 24, a decision he said he actually made out of respect to Kentucky, not wanting to give the program or staff a bad look while he took additional visits.

“The reason I decommitted was because talking to the coaches and stuff and my parents, we had decided to take some more visits and do camps. Being the face of the class, out of respect for the university, I thought it would be best to go ahead and decommit. That was that and talking to Coach Hinshaw and Coach Stoops and praying about it a lot, I just really got that feeling that this was the spot for me and we just decided to shut it all down and come back home.”

Vince Marrow and Darin Hinshaw visited Williams at his high school as recently as this weekend to see him play in his spring game. Coaches from the University of Georgia were also there after offering Williams on May 4, but Williams’ loyalty to the UK coaching staff was stronger than the pull to play for his home state school.

“I knew that I’d always be surrounded by great people,” Williams said of Kentucky. “They’ve always been up front about everything and I know I could trust them. They’ve always supported me, even the fans, they’ve been very supportive. That’s the kind of stuff that stands out to me. All the glamour and all that stuff, that doesn’t make my decision. It’s about the little stuff, being able to trust in the Lord Jesus. When I go up there, I just get that feeling. This is where I belong. There’s no other feeling like it.”

There’s a long ways to go until Signing Day, but the fact that Williams recommitted in spite of offers from the best programs in the country — including his home state Bulldogs — is a very good sign this pledge will stick. From here, Williams will resume his role as one of the lead recruiters in Kentucky’s 2018 class, which he will represent in the Elite 11 Finals June 2-4 in Los Angeles.

“Oh yeah, this is it,” Williams said when asked if this was his final decision. “I’m shutting it down. This is it now. I know where my heart belongs. I’m committed 100%. I’m shutting it all down.”

Stay tuned for more on Williams’ commitment as the day goes on.

 


Monday’s Top 10: Fox soars, John Wall has his moment, and some big breaking news coming soon…

Monday’s Top 10: Fox soars, John Wall has his moment, and some big breaking news coming soon…

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Greetings all, and welcome to a new week. Shoutout to KSR and UK fan Nick for repping the Cats at the Parthenon. Sure, it may be the full-scale replica that’s here in Nashville — built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition — but it’s still impressive and in close proximity to plenty of great hot chicken places and craft breweries. Nick, I hope you took advantage of all that.

Before I call Prince’s to see if they’re open at 9 a.m., let’s roll through the top ten, because that’s probably a decision that I’d regret later today.

1. Sorting through the aftermath of the NBA Combine

The NBA Draft Combine finally wrapped up yesterday in Chicago, and for Kentucky fans, there were two main takeaways: 1) Hamidou Diallo’s measurements/agility piqued the interest of several teams; and 2) De’Aaron Fox did himself some favors. We’ll start with Diallo, who has nine days left to make the decision to stay in the draft or come back to Kentucky. After doing some reading, it seems that Diallo’s 44.5″ vertical and 6’11.25″ wingspan were enough to make NBA teams want to hear more. According to Chad Ford, Diallo is now viewed as an “intriguing” prospect that could go in the 20’s, whereas if he stayed at Kentucky and had a good season, could go in the top 10 of the 2018 draft. The speculation surrounding Diallo is overwhelming and, honestly, a bit exhausting, but we’ll keep bringing you the news as it happens.

2. De’Aaron Fox charmed everyone

The other big takeaway of the Combine to me was the emergence of De’Aaron Fox. Fox was one of the few projected top 10 prospects to actually attend the Combine, and that decision seems to have worked in his favor. Fox charmed everyone, to the point that Chad Ford believes many squads would pick him over Lonzo Ball, putting him in contention for the second or third pick. That’s huge.

One of the many media opps Fox did this week:

Fox seems primed to become the next great ambassador of Kentucky Basketball. Let’s hope he lands somewhere good.

3. The NBA Draft Lottery is tomorrow

Here are the latest odds:

4. It’s Game 7 for Wizards/Celtics

Friday night was the night John Wall told the world that he’s an NBA superstar. Wall quietly put together an impressive regular season, and when some haters — cough, Cowherd, cough — still questioned that he had the talent and charisma to be among the league’s elite, he made a statement Friday night. After the buzzer sounded following his game-winning three, Wall leapt on the scorer’s table and motioned to the Washington crowd to get loud. The pictures and video of the moment have been everywhere, but this perspective from the crowd may be my favorite:

Tonight, the Wizards and Celtics will meet one final time in Boston to decide the series, the winner of which will advance to play the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. That game tips at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

5. UK Baseball swept the Vols

UK Baseball made Senior Weekend one to remember by sweeping Tennessee at The Cliff. After a date with Northern Kentucky on Tuesday, the Bat Cats will turn their sights to a crucial weekend showdown with Florida with the SEC championship on the line. The Cats (36-16, 18-9 SEC) will need to win at least two of three games to claim a piece of the division – and possibly overall – crown in coach Nick Mingione’s first season as head coach.

We’ve said it a lot, but what Mingione has done this season is incredible. Keep it up, fellas.

6. The football team landed a three-star center

Mark Stoops added an eighth member to his 2018 class this weekend in the form of three-star center Quintin Wilson. Wilson is the third offensive lineman in the 2018 class and the fourth recruit from the state of Ohio, aka Vince Marrow land. UK’s 2018 class is now ranked 22nd in 247 Sports’ rankings, and Alex Reigelsperger, who has seized the role of lead recruiter, says more Yahtzees are coming soon:

Hmm…

7. UK Softball will host a regional

Last night, the UK Softball team drew the No. 14 national seed in the 2017 NCAA Softball Championships, and will serve as regional hosts this weekend at John Cropp Stadium. Illinois, Marshall and DePaul will come to town for the double-elimination style bracket, the winner of which will advance to the super regionals. Kentucky will open play on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET against DePaul, which will be shown live on ESPN 3/WatchESPN.

Tickets are available now at the UK Ticket Office, so make plans to go support the ladies this weekend.

8. My Preds dropped Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals

Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals started well for the Nashville Predators, who quickly leapt to a 2-0 lead, but Anaheim didn’t give up, eventually winning by a final score of 5-3. Thankfully, Nashville won Game 1, so the series is tied at 1-1, and now comes home to Bridgestone Arena, which will be absolutely nuts on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Hopefully I can be there on Tuesday to cheer them on before leaving for vacation. Either way, I’m taking jersey with me to Italy.

9. Julius Randle won Mother’s Day

Shoutout to Julius Randle for a very impressive and creative Mother’s Day gift for his fiancée, Kendra. Guys, good luck topping this one:

10. Some big news is going to drop on today’s show

I suggest you be by your radio at 10 a.m. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


YAHTZEE! 2018 Offensive Lineman Quintin Wilson Commits to Kentucky

@Q_wil42

@Q_wil42

Cincinnati center Quintin Wilson has committed to Kentucky.  The 6’3″ 290-pound three-star recruit used his commitment as a gift to his mom on Mother’s Day.

@q_wil42

@q_wil42

Considered the No. 8 center in the country, the Walnut Hills High School star chose Kentucky over Duke, Virginia, Cincinnati and Minnesota.  Wilson becomes the third offensive lineman in the eight-man 2018 class and the fourth from the state of Ohio.  247 Sports hasn’t bumped UK’s ’18 class to No. 22, third in the SEC.

John Schlarman will get to work with the nation’s No. 32 offensive tackle, Darian Kinnard, the nation’s No. 4 offensive guard, Marquan McCall, and the nation’s No. 8 center, Quintin Wilson.  Watch Wilson do work:


Mother’s Day Wishes from the Big Blue Nation

@KentuckyMBB

@KentuckyMBB

Your favorite University of Kentucky Wildcats are celebrating their beloved Mothers with social media shout outs.  For those Moms who aren’t on Twitter, it makes no sense to me, but that’s a conversation for another day.  Today is a day to honor the wonderful women who made us who we are, starting with a special video from the football team.

Coach Rich Brooks

Karl-Anthony Towns

Coach Mark Stoops 

Coach Cal

Linebacker Courtney Love

Running Back Benny Snell

Former UK Center Max Godby 

Cornerback Jordan Griffin

J.B. Holmes, before he tries to win The Players’ Championship.

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See Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald’s Dramatic Body Transformation

See Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald’s Dramatic Body Transformation

@abizzle42

@abizzle42

Kentucky fans had probably never heard the name Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald until a week before he committed to UK on January 30.  The defensive end flew under the radar until just before National Signing Day, but the Cats were able to fend off Florida to get him to sign on the dotted line.

Penned in as a “late riser,” he earns that description because he originally planned to play basketball at the next level.  Born in Nigeria, his first passion when he arrived in the United States in middle school was basketball.  It suited him well, scoring over 1,000 points in his high school career, until he started growing into his body.

It’s difficult to comprehend Abule’s development.  The only way to understand is to compare the before and after. His adoptive father Steve Fitzgerald has shared plenty of pictures on Twitter of Abule.  Prepare to be shocked.

Freshman Abule

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January 18, 2016: Abule received an all-tournament award his junior year.

@Crusaderball23

@Crusaderball23

November 14, 2016: Even during his senior season, his arms hang from his jersey.

December 10: You start to see him grow after he scored his 1,000th career point.

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March 21: HOLY RAVIOLI BATMAN!

@Crusaderball23

@Crusaderball23

April 6: HIS HANDS COULD PALM THEIR FACES.

@Crusaderball23

@Crusaderball23

April 27: Steve Fitzgerald reports that Abule is up to 267 pounds, more than 20 pounds heavier than his playing weight last fall.

May 10:  Earlier this week, Darin Hinshaw checked in before Abule moves to Lexington.

@Crusaderball23

@Crusaderball23

Even though he might be the least talked about recruit in 2017 class, nobody has more upside.  He’s only played about two full football seasons, and as you could see, he’s just beginning to grow into his body.

A bright student who’s lived with coaches, he’ll be able to dedicate himself 100% as a redshirt this fall.  A year of learning fundamental football, paired with a nutritional program and weightlifting plan, Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald’s future is bright.


Mark Stoops Reacts to Rule Changes

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This year the SEC is adopting new practice policies that will prohibit two-a-day practices and limit live contact periods.  The hot summer days of multiple practices are over.

For the salty traditionalists, eliminating two-a-days provides more fuel to add to the “this generation is soft” fire.  However, Mark Stoops doesn’t see it that way.  The Kentucky head football coach used to suffer through them with a “bent up knee” for Hayden Fry at Iowa, but the game has changed since then.

The function of two-a-days in the past was to whip the team into shape.  Now, there are no breaks.  Stoops said his team stays in-shape year-round.  Physically, they should be unaffected by the change, but he told Jen Smith of the Herald-Leader they will still be missed.

“I’ve always felt like they were important, for anything as much as that, the mental strain and the attitude it takes to go through that,” Stoops said. “We’ve never had that much serious contact in both practices. It’s more just their time and stressing them and pushing them, getting them in condition.”

Stoops is still searching for other creative ways to mentally push his players in fall camp.  One way is by making camp longer.  It will likely now start a week early and last five long weeks.

See more of what Stoops had to say about a variety of topics here. If you want to hear what a couple of old guys think of the rule changes, listen to this week’s Depth Chart Podcast.  


UK Athletics

Jon Toth Invited to Rams Rookie Minicamp

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

There was speculation after the NFL Draft that former Kentucky center Jon Toth had signed with the 49ers but that proved to be false.

Toth has finally received his chance to make an NFL roster as the Los Angeles Rams invited the 1st-team All-SEC Center to tryout through their Rookie Minicamp this weekend.

Toth has a real chance to make the training camp roster as the Rams had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season.

Best of luck to Mr. Toth this weekend!


Photo via @RowlandRIVALS

Boston College Linebacker Visiting Kentucky Soon

Photo via USA Today

Photo via USA Today

Justin Rowland from Cats Illustrated is reporting that top Linebacker Ethan Tucky is transferring from Boston College and visiting Kentucky soon.

Tucky was part of the 2016 class for Boston College, turing down scholarships from Wisconsin, Iowa and Cal to play for the Eagles.  It’s no secret that Stoops has a special connection with players from Ohio and lucky for us, Tucky was born and raised in Delaware, Ohio. That and the fact that UK recruited him earlier too seem to give us a nice little advantage.

Here’s a video from his high school days:


@UKFootball

WATCH: Stephen Johnson throws out first pitch at Cliff Hagan

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

If the whole football thing doesn’t work out for Stephen Johnson it seems like he could pull a Tim Tebow and make a run of it at baseball.

Our QB even took the time to sign a few autographs after throwing the strike.

I like our QB.


Kentucky Football Notes of the Week

Kentucky Football Notes of the Week

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Kentucky secured a commitment from the top rated prospect in Michigan as secondary coach Steve Clinkscale traveled north to land four-star offensive lineman Marquan McCall. McCall is rated as a top 5 guard nationally. His recruitment proves that Stoops’ out-of-state reach can go well beyond Ohio and Florida.

I’m taking some time off and this is my last post for a while. So, let’s check out all the recent goings on surrounding Kentucky Football…

3 Players With The Most to Gain in the Offseason  

 Linebacker Jamin Davis

The early enrollee was one of the spring game’s standouts after recording 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Davis’ instincts, physicality, and character supersede his lack of experience. Summertime weight and strength gains are vital for the rookie from Ludowici, Georgia. Currently listed at 212-pounds, Davis may push for immediate playing time if he can surpass the 220 mark.

 Running Back Bryant Koback

Bryan Koback suffered a season-ending injury after posting a 375-yard rushing performance early in his senior year of high school. Prior to the injury, Koback rushed 93 times for 1,096 yards and 21 touchdowns in a shortened season. The early enrollee didn’t participate in spring practice while he focused on rehabilitation.

History tells us that Eddie Gran will need more than 3 running backs for 2017. Currently Gran is counting on Benny Snell, Sihiem King, and AJ Rose to carry the mail. The Wildcats need the true freshman to heal and regenerate in the offseason in order to provide a 4th option. Hopes are that he regains the speed and elusiveness that attracted Vince Marrow’s eye during his days at Springfield High School.

 Linebacker Eli Brown

Brown stepped up and showed out during spring practice as his play was singled out by defensive coordinator Matt House as well as Mark Stoops. The sophomore from Bowling Green is listed at 215-pounds which is 5-10 lb’s shy of a desirable weight for an inside linebacker. He’s shown explosive play and sideline-to-sideline capability. But, an increase in his between-the-tackle fist fight prowess will only come with additional strength and weight gains. Brown should see a significant upsurge in playing time in 2017 and has all the tools to be special.


Early Signing Period

Beginning with this recruiting cycle, prospects can sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI) during an early signing period that ranges from December 20th through the 22nd. Will this 72-hour window be the end-all solution for programs such as Kentucky? I’m yet to be convinced. While in no way can it hurt, let’s wait to see at least one recruiting rotation filter through the new system prior to passing judgement.

UK’s Class of 2017 pledged early and stayed committed all the way through National Signing Day. Only Lynn Bowden, Yusuf Corker, and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald came into the fold after December 22nd. The Class of 2015 was quite the opposite. It lost a portion of players from decommitment but gained eventual starters late in the process.

Will a high percentage of players sign early or will they drag out the process until February? Are 48 days between the first and final signing days enough to make a substantial difference? There’s no way to accurately answer those questions. We’ll see how it plays out. You can listen to three UK has-beens discuss this and more topics on the Depth Chart Podcast here.


KHSAA State Football Championships Moving to Kroger Field

Kroger Field will host the KHSAA state football championships beginning this December. This includes all classifications: A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A. Excellent news for the University of Kentucky as well as traditional powerhouse football programs in eastern and central Kentucky.

I’ve either played in or attended title games at the old Cardinal Stadium, Papa John’s, and those hosted by WKU. All have been hospitable sites and provided travel ease for programs within their immediate vicinities. It’s now UK’s time to showcase its new shiny facilities.


Service Trip to the Dominican Republic

CJ Conrad, Jordan Bonner, and Denzil Ware are spending a portion of their offseason on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. Not much more to say other than take a look at these inspiring and heartwarming pictures. Really proud of these guys.

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@UKFootball

This picture of Denzil Ware is priceless:

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@UKFootball

OLB Jordan Bonner’s selfie game is strong:

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@UKFootball

I’ll be completely off the grid starting Saturday. But, if you’re in the area stop by the 6th Annual Passing for a Purpose football camp that will be held at Harlan County High School’s Coal Miner Memorial Stadium. The camp starts on Saturday morning and runs from 8:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. Cost is $10.00 with 100% of proceeds going to Cumberland Hope Community Rehab Center.

Have a great week.


Stephen Johnson will throw out the first pitch at tonight’s UK Baseball game

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We know Stephen Johnson can throw a football, but what about a baseball? We’ll find out tonight when UK’s quarterback throws out the first pitch for the baseball team’s series opener vs. Tennessee. It sounds like the weather’s been iffy in Lexington all day, but as of now, the game is going on as scheduled, so get on down to The Cliff for the 6:30 p.m. start.

Tonight, Stephen is trading in the 🏈 for a ⚾️. See #15 throw out the first pitch at the UK Baseball game! #WeAreUK

A post shared by Kentucky Football (@ukfootball) on

 

Can’t make it tonight? Tomorrow’s game starts at 2 p.m., but get there early for the Senior Day festivities. Seven seniors will be honored: Marcus Carson, Colton Cleary, Connor Heady, Gunnar McNeill, Zach Reks, Logan Salow and Storm Wilson. Sunday’s finale is at 1 p.m.

With only two weekends left, the #9 Bat Cats are still very much in the SEC race. The Wildcats are 33-16 overall and 15-9 in league play, just one game behind league leaders Florida and Mississippi State. Go get ’em, Bat Cats!