Football Season Coverage
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Will Kentucky fans be able to purchase beer at Kroger Field moving forward? It’s now a possibility.
According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, the decades-old bylaw prohibiting SEC schools from selling alcohol in general seating areas at athletic venues will be up for discussion at the league’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida next week.
“Many of the conference’s high-ranking administrators are optimistic that league presidents will not only seriously discuss the alcohol ban but will overturn an archaic policy that exists in no other major conference,” Dellenger said. “The bylaw will be “front and center” during the four-day event at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort, says one athletic director; another AD says it’s “the main thing.” The administrators spoke to Sports Illustrated on a condition of anonymity.”
Last season, Arizona, Oregon, Boston College, Oklahoma State, and Colorado allowed alcohol sales in both general seating and premium areas, while Illinois, Rutgers, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech will be doing the same this fall. Over 55 Football Bowl Subdivision programs also serve alcohol throughout their respective stadiums.
According to the report, “many” of those schools and venues made the change due to the opportunity for “an additional revenue stream, fewer reported binge drinking incidents and an enhanced game-day experience that boosts attendance.”
With the SEC’s attendance average of 73,994 being the lowest since 2002 and nearly 5,000 below the conference average in 2015, they may opt for a similar change moving forward.
Would you support the decision?
By Nick Roush on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
After the most successful Kentucky football season in 41 years, Mark Stoops must replace 16 seniors and Benny Snell. From longsnapper to record-breaking National Defensive Player of the Year, all 17 players contributed in some form or fashion.
In spite of the losses, you can still find plenty of experience throughout the roster. The defensive line should be the best it’s been since Stoops arrived, however, in other position groups UK must lean on newcomers. How they perform under pressure will be the difference in a seven-win season or another history-making run.
As a three-year starter, Mike Edwards stalked opponents from multiple positions throughout the secondary. Whether he was lined up as a deep safety or a slot cornerback, Kentucky’s Badger covered sideline to sideline, easily masking the mistakes of his peers. Robinson will have to do that and more in his first year as a starter.
A four-star recruit from Lexington Henry Clay, the highly-coveted track star has the athleticism to be an SEC playmaker. Entering his fourth year with the program, Robinson is the most experienced defensive back on the team with three official starts. After primarily playing special teams as a redshirt freshman, last year he recorded 42 tackles, including a career-high nine against Georgia. Robinson scored Josh Allen’s strip sack on the final play in regulation at The Swamp.
In a small role, Robinson has been formidable. Instead of making a steady transition from role player to starter, he must immediately become the leader of the secondary. He’ll be tasked to make sure everybody’s lined up correctly before the snap. If the inexperienced cornerbacks get burnt, Robinson must be there to mitigate their mistakes. If he cannot be the secondary’s safety net, it will be a long season.
How is Mark Stoops handling the search for new cornerbacks? “I’ll lose a little more hair, get a little more gray,” he joked this spring.
All joking aside, replacing four-year starters will not be easy.
To solve the problem, Stoops hit the JUCO ranks. Luckily, he found one sure-fire fit. Brandin Echols was far and away the best cornerback at spring practice. A natural born ball-hawk, where others where inconsistent, he remained steady. The only problem with Echols is there’s only one of him.
Quandre Mosely needs to transform into UK’s second reliable corner option. Upon first sight, the JUCO transfer looks eerily similar to Chris Westry. Wearing No. 21, Mosely stands 6-foot 2- inches tall and uses his incredibly long arms as pass obstructing weapons. He has the tools, but lacks the experience. The No. 16 JUCO recruit in America was the second-ranked safety…and that’s the problem. This spring was his introduction to the cornerback position. If he does not pick the position up quickly, UK may have to lean on true freshman MJ Devonshire or a handful of talented, albeit inconsistent second-year players.
Brad White did not expect to replace Josh Allen with “The Next Josh Allen.” To fill the gap in production, White knew the sacks and tackles for loss would have to spread out amongst the defensive line. Still, it did not stop him from going in on his outside linebackers.
“We’re clearly not where we need to be and we’ve got a lot of steps to take. That’s the bottom line. To play in the 3-4 defense, you’ve got to have dominant outside edge guys,” was the nicest thing White said one spring morning where he spent almost 13 minutes dogging his group.
Two weeks later, Jordan Wright flipped the script in the spring game. He recorded four tackles, an interception and a pass break-up in addition to multiple pressures that would have likely resulted in sacks if it were a live-game scenario. Wright has the size (6’5″ 240 pounds) and athleticism to be what UK needs at Jack linebacker. So far, he’s lacked the consistency of a full-time starter. If that transition happens later, rather than sooner, Marquez Bembry and Jared Casey will eagerly fill the void.
Landon Young’s season-ending injury forced Kinnard to become just the third true freshman to not wear a redshirt under Stoops. The only other two offensive linemen to play as true freshman: Young and George Asafo-Adjei, the man he’s tasked to replace at right tackle this fall.
The high school All-American exceeded expectations as a true freshman. Kinnard played in nine games and started in two of the last three. He recorded zero penalties, zero missed assignments and 16 blocks at the point of attack that created three long touchdown runs.
The left side of Kentucky’s offensive line will be one of the best in the SEC. Opposing defenses will try to mitigate its strength by applying pressure on the more inexperienced right side. If Kinnard can parlay his freshman year into an excellent year two, Terry Wilson will have the time to thrive.
Class of 2017 Wide Receivers
As soon as Lynn Bowden stepped on campus, his impact was felt throughout the offense. Now UK’s offensive superstar needs a few wingmen. The most likely candidates are his class of 2017 compadres.
Even though it did not translate into production during the spring game, Josh Ali was the most consistent outside weapon throughout UK’s 15 spring practices. Ali can do a little bit of it all, but he will make his money running crisp intermediate routes on third and long.
Searching for explosiveness, the pressure is on Isaiah Epps. A natural-born burner, nobody in the receivers’ room can sprint past a defender quite like Epps. His problem in the past has been completing the play with a catch. He made one nice play for 60 yards in the spring game, but he must be able to do it on a consistent basis before the season starts.
Epps and Ali’s consistency will be questioned all year. Will their counterparts even show up? JaVonte Richardson was a four-star recruit who needed a season of junior college. He’s committed to UK, but we still have received no official word from the school on his status. Clevan Thomas turned heads as an early enrollee. We haven’t heard much from him since. Following a redshirt season, the Cats need every offensive weapon they can get.
It did not take long for Kash Daniel to become a fan favorite. In his three years at the University of Kentucky, the middle linebacker has used his prominent platform to promote Eastern Kentucky and those who fight for our freedom in the armed forces.
As Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer season, Daniel wants to remind the Big Blue Nation why we celebrate the occasion.
Ahead of the summer festivities, Kash met with members of Kentucky’s chapter of the Rolling Thunder, an organization dedicated to helping veterans and raising awareness for POW*MIA status service members. The two parties were first introduced when the Rolling Thunder set up Chairs of Honor around Kroger Field for the Cats’ duel with Georgia.
“Always a great time when my brothers and sisters from Rolling Thunder KY5 roll through Lexington. Just an unbelievable group of people who are veterans themselves spreading P.O.W. awareness,” Kash posted on Instagram.
“The stories I’ve heard from them really puts things in perspective, and makes the hard things in life seem not so hard anymore. This Memorial Day weekend please take a moment away from your BBQ’s and lake day laying in the sun to remember these men and women who gave their lives keeping us safe and allowing us to live life anyway we want to live it?? #NeverForgotten”
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky’s name is usually thrown into the bottom of the barrel throughout college football talking season. That has changed after a ten-win season that culminated with a Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State.
Most preseason prognosticators forecast based on attrition and potential. Pro Football Focus uses an advanced algorithm that rewards teams for overachieving, a.k.a. beating teams they probably should not. That’s my best attempt to explain their methods in layman’s terms. Here’s how they describe the formula:
The Elo algorithm updates a team’s rating dynamically through using the outcome of a game versus what was expected to happen in a game, assigning bigger bumps to teams that upset great teams than teams that narrowly beat teams for which they are big favorites. The PFF version uses PFF grades for every facet of play to derive what the score of a game should have been based on an ensemble of models that weigh positive and negative plays in said facets.
Even though Kentucky is losing Josh Allen, Benny Snell and its entire secondary, Mark Stoops consistently put his team in a position to win in 2018, regardless of circumstance. That’s why Kentucky is the preseason No. 19 team in the country, according to PFF.
Four UK opponents also crack the Top 25: No. 4 Georgia, No. 8 Florida, No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 17 Missouri.
Typically the preseason press clippings are nothing more than motivation for a UK team that carries a chip on their shoulder. There will be plenty more of that over the next 99 days, but it feels good to be in the mix, if only for once.
After participating in the 18th bowl game in program history—a 27-24 Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State—and landing just the second five-star recruit since 2002 (when Rivals.com began ranking recruits) in Justin Rogers, Kentucky football is riding high. While the recent success is cause for celebration, the program cannot rest on its laurels. This is a pivotal point for the football program, one where they can take the next step and gain recognition as a legitimate national competitor. The key to achieving this is for the program to schedule tougher non-conference opponents.
Being a member of the Southeastern Conference means Kentucky has an inherently difficult schedule, and with eight SEC opponents every year and a home-and-home series with Louisville, UK’s non-conference flexibility is limited to three games. Also, the Wildcats prefer to play two out-of-conference games at home, and they are not yet to the level where premier opponents would be willing to travel to Lexington. Essentially, this means that there is only one game available per year, and that Kentucky would have to make the trip.
Still, were the Cats to volunteer to travel to tough road venues, it would show a willingness to seek out the best competition, which would help improve their national reputation and give the Big Blue Nation a chance to visit some historic stadiums. Also, a tough out-of-conference game would help prepare the Cats for when they travel to hostile environments within the SEC.
So, if Kentucky is willing to take the next step by scheduling better, here are five theoretical opponents the program should consider adding to its schedule to increase its national profile:
5. Any decent Pac-12 team
A prerequisite for being a national program is putting together a national schedule. Washington and Oregon have each made the College Football Playoff, Washington State is a consistently solid program and USC, while in the midst of a rebuild, has one of the richest histories of any football program.
The Pac-12 has been down in recent years, but the conference should be looking to reinvigorate their own national reputation by getting opponents from other Power 5 conferences, particularly the SEC, to compete with their teams. The Cats would have a good chance of winning against any opponent, despite the trek from Lexington to the west coast. Recording a marquee win over a big-name school could open up a new area of recruiting for the program and finally allow UK to travel west of the Rockies.
4. Ohio State
It would be a long shot not only for the Wildcats to win this game, but also for them to simply schedule it. Ohio State is in the upper echelon of programs and already look to schedule a tough Power-5 opponent every year, so they may not be inclined to add an on-the-rise Kentucky team to their non-conference schedule.
If the matchup does occur, the fact that Kentucky and OSU constantly vie for Ohio prospects would provide plenty of intrigue for the matchup in terms of future recruiting battles. Also, should the Cats actually prevail in Columbus, it would not only aid in terms of recruiting but be one of the greatest moments in the history of Kentucky football. It’s just a shame that Ohio native Benny Snell wouldn’t be on the UK roster to add to the hype.
3. Notre Dame
Notre Dame is arguably the most historic program in the history of college football. They have recently scheduled an SEC opponent annually, facing Vanderbilt in 2018 and Georgia in 2017, with a rematch scheduled this season in Athens. If the Wildcats want to throw their hat in the ring, the Irish could be a willing participant.
What’s more, playing in Notre Dame stadium could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for UK fans, coaches and players. Notre Dame is a brand that Kentucky should strive to match, and scheduling this game would improve UK’s profile among even casual college football fans.
2. Penn State
Kentucky’s victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl proved they could compete with top-tier programs. That victory may have left enough of a sour taste in the Nittany Lions’ mouths for them to want some revenge.
Happy Valley, much like Columbus (Ohio State) and South Bend (Notre Dame), is a premier environment for players and fans to experience. Also, the Nittany Lions are another program that consistently competes with the Cats for Ohio recruits. Another victory would give Kentucky some extra cachet when recruiting against Penn State, and give the Cats experience with a tough road test. Plus, Mark Stoops handing James Franklin another loss, this time on his turf, would be a nice bonus.
1. West Virginia
This is the top choice on this list because it is probably the most realistic to achieve and would arguably be the most intriguing matchup on paper. The relative proximity of the two schools would make it a convenient trip for the fans, while Mountaineer’s head coach and Boyle County native Neal Brown’s stint as a wide receiver and offensive coordinator for the Cats already provides an interesting link for both programs.
Brown has put together a high-powered offense, as is typical of Big 12 teams, while Mark Stoops is a defensive-minded coach who has molded the Wildcats into a stout test for any offense. This game could provide the college football equivalent of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, but most importantly, WVU might be the most willing program on this list to arrange a home-and-home series, allowing the Big Blue Nation to see a Big 12 opponent come to town.
College football schedules are set years in advance, so it could take several years before any of these matchups becomes available. However, that means that the athletic department must act swiftly to ensure they can schedule a difficult non-conference opponent. Doing so would pay dividends for the program on the recruiting trail and help develop the Cats’ national profile—and possibly give basketball a run for its money in the Bluegrass.
For the first time since his arrival last season, Mark Stoops fielded a top notch defense. The Wildcats were paced by a bunch of seniors including All-American edge Josh Allen who became the best individual defender in the country. Thanks to these efforts, the Wildcats finished 15th in defensive efficiency per S&P+, ranked 37th in the country in yards per play allowed, and ranked second in the SEC in scoring defense. Kentucky did all of this with just 20 takeaways forced (ranked 57th nationally). That’s really impressive.
Gone are Allen and all of UK’s secondary starters to the NFL. So it’s clear where first year coordinator Brad White is having to rebuild heading into 2019. Leaving the spring session, Kentucky still has major concerns at corner in addition to finding a consistent option to play the edge opposite of Boogie Watson (Florida State transfer Xavier Peters could help in this regard). However, UK looks to be very strong in the belly of the defense. You usually would rather have that opposed to the opposite.
It starts in the middle of the unit with your Mike linebacker and Kentucky has a good one in Kash Daniel. The former blue-chip recruit finally lived up to his recruiting hype last season in his first time starting. The Paintsville native posted 84 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss in 12 starts. Very solid numbers for any linebacker in their first year starting.
Where Daniel really shined was defending the run. He has some kinks to work out when asked to play in space, but he was excellent when playing downhill. The inside linebacker flashed some really solid instincts shown by his ability to consistently get home on run blitzes and having great timing when shooting gaps. His 9.5 run stuffs (tackles at or behind line of scrimmage on rushes) ranks fourth among all inside linebackers returning to the SEC in 2019. He’s a quality starter and will be a key cog in UK’s run defense.
During the draft season the story of Josh Allen and his development within the Kentucky football program became national news. The former high school receiver went from two-star to top 10 pick after just four years in Lexington. Following the historic year, he collected every individual award you could nab and will go down as one of the greatest to ever wear the blue and white. It will be hard to top his story, but the one of Calvin Taylor, Jr. has put together will be pretty close.
The Georgia native was an unranked recruit out of high school and a late addition to the class of 2015. Recruiting services pegged the 6-foot-9 prospect as an offensive tackle, but the UK staff liked what they saw from Taylor on the defensive side of the football. After two years of development, he finally cracked the rotation in 2017.
That year as a bench piece, Taylor ranked second among all defensive linemen with 22 stops before breaking through as a redshirt junior. This past fall he posted 26 tackles, but became much more effective with his six tackles for loss. But where Taylor really made an impact was in the running game.
The upperclassmen who has played both defensive tackle and defensive end in UK’s 3-4 scheme and recorded 9.5 run stuffs which tied for second on the defense. Obviously, Josh Allen left some big holes after posting 24 run stuffs, but Taylor feels like a guy who be due for a big time senior season. Keep up the development and the versatile defensive lineman who will be a very intriguing 2020 NFL Draft prospect.
Despite recording over 90 tackles and 19 sacks on a very good Cordova High School team in the Memphis area his senior year, Quinton Bohanna was marked a low three-star prospect by the recruiting services. Despite the ranking, Bohanna quickly became one of the most valuable players out of the class of 2017. The nose guard was a full-time starter by the end of his true freshman season and seemed poised for a breakout sophomore year. Unfortunately, an ankle injury suffered against Florida limited him this past season.
Despite the issues, Bohanna flashed during his sophomore season and recorded four tackles for loss to go with 4.5 run stuffs. He will need to prove he can stay healthy and play for a larger sample size, but he has the frame (now over 360 pounds) and ability to make a prominent impact.
Quinton Bohanna, Kash Daniel, and Calvin Taylor, Jr. are set to be key cogs in Kentucky’s defense this fall. New defensive coordinator Brad White needs each to play at a high level. However, they are not the only answers this defense will have. Chris Oats and Joshua Paschal were both blue-chip recruits entering their sophomore season. They could be due for a big leap. T.J. Carter, Phil Hoskins, and Kordell Looney are three defensive linemen who have all played a lot of snaps. Davonte Robinson has all of the tools to become UK’s next draft pick out of the secondary.
The secondary and edge rush is a concern that will not be solved until the real football is played. It is vital that the belly of the defense steps up their game during this transition time. It’s clear that they have the personnel to take advantage. Stop the run and you’ll a great shot at success no matter who you’ll play in the SEC.
Pull out your pocket schedule for Kentucky football’s 2022 season and pencil in Northern Illinois as an opponent on the home slate.
College football insider Brett McMurphy tweeted the breaking schedule scoop that NIU will play against UK in Lexington in 2022.
Cats and Huskies in three years. SEC versus the MAC. Get excited.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Kroger Field continues to get better. Installation is underway to add bench backs to the North upper level, the latest upgrade in a series of renovations to Kentucky Football’s home.
Bench backs will be added to all seats in sections 201-203 and 209-211 that did not previously have bench backs. In total, nearly 5,000 seats will be affected by the project, which started in early May and will be completed prior to the start of the 2019 season. UK Athletics has now reached its goal of installing bench-back or chair-back seating throughout Kroger Field, with the exception of the student section, where bleachers will remain to accommodate as many students as possible.
More good news: even though bench backs are being added to the North upper level, season and single-game ticket prices in the affected areas will remain the same. Season tickets are now available at UKFootballTix.com. Single game tickets will go on sale later this summer.
Following a banner year for the program, season ticket sales are strong, with 90% of 2018 season ticket holders renewing soon after the priority renewal deadline on April 12. With nearly 3,000 new season tickets sold, overall sales have reached 98% of last year’s final total as of April 23.
Go Cats. Go Krogering.
Xavier Peters hopes the NCAA will grant him immediate eligibility at Kentucky next season. The former Florida State linebacker will apply for a hardship waiver, explaining the need to be closer to his young son as his reason for transferring to Kentucky. Peters is from West Chester, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati.
He took to Twitter on Thursday to say, “I hope the @NCAAFootball respect my decision by coming home to take care of my son the right way. I needed to play closer to home so I can show him how much love him & how much I missed him. It’s a dream come true to be playing in front of my son.” (@XavierPeters22)
The tweet was a response to a story written by Larry Vaught, in which Vince Marrow is quoted as saying, “If I was at the NCAA and a guy really wants to be a father, especially speaking as an African-American man, I would like to see him get that opportunity. Obviously we would like to have him but mainly I would like to see him get it (the waiver) being a young African-American father who wants to be around his kid.”
Peters appeared in only two games as a true freshman in Florida State last season, which should help his case.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 23rd, 2019 @ 11:30am
Remember Mikel Horton? He was the Kentucky running back who scored the late game-winning touchdown to beat Louisiana-Lafayette, back when Kentucky needed a late game-winning touchdown to beat Louisiana-Lafayette. It was one of his five touchdowns on 144 carries in 27 career games.
Horton came to Lexington as a highly-touted, four-star prospect out of Ohio; ranked as the 12th-best running back and the No. 150 overall talent in the Class of 2013; but decided to transfer early in his junior season once he slipped down the depth chart behind a young Benny Snell and a junior Boom Williams and a senior JoJo Kemp. He never returned to college football.
So where is he now?
If you guessed pursuing a rap career in Cincinnati under the name Fuego Tunez, you’re the winner. You can catch some of his bars in this music video I found on YouTube (lyrics not appropriate for work or children):
I will now use this space to shout out his Spotify page because I don’t know what else to add to the Mikel Horton is a rapper story. I just thought some of you UK football fans might find this interesting because Horton was an exciting pickup for Mark Stoops early on and then he completely disappeared from football for a life of auto-tune.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 22nd, 2019 @ 9:00pm
A new report by the folks with CBS Sports has ranked each SEC team’s upcoming schedule, and they’re predicting a relatively-easy season for the Wildcats, especially compared with the schedules waiting for the other teams in the conference.
Here’s what CBS’s Tom Fornelli had to say about his seeding for the Wildcats.
“Kentucky’s nonconference schedule includes Toledo, Eastern Michigan, UT-Martin and Louisville; that Louisville game would have been a lot more valuable two years ago than it is now. The Wildcats also benefit from a relatively soft draw from the West in Arkansas and Mississippi State, and while they get Georgia on the road, Florida, Missouri and Tennessee all come to Kroger Field.”
Fornellia makes a good point. Kentucky will have most of their traditionally-challenging games all inside Kroger Field this year – Florida, Tennessee and Louisville, for starters. Then add in Missouri at home. Sure, Georgia on the road is tough, but that game would be tough for the Cats even if they played it in Lexington.
The only team with an easier schedule than Kentucky is Alabama, who plays Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina. The Tide will also avoid Georgia and Florida.
On the other hand, South Carolina is listed as having the most challenging road. The Game Cocks will play Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M and Georgia. Like Fornellia says in his schedule breakdown, there have been three programs to compete in the College Football Playoff National Championship in the last two years, and USC will face all three of them. Oh yeah, and a Kentucky team they can’t seem to beat.
Here’s a look at the entire list:
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
Do you agree with the report’s order? You can read the full justification for each team’s ranking below:
There are 207 more days until the first game of the 2019-20 college football bowl season kicks off, but that hasn’t stopped a few outlets from putting out early bowl projections.
Coming off an historic ten-win season and a Citrus Bowl victory, the pundits still are not completely sold on the Wildcats. All five early bowl projections place UK in the SEC’s second-tier of bowl games that includes the Liberty, Belk and Music City bowls.
- Sporting News: UK vs. Virginia in the Music City Bowl
- Brett McMurphy: UK vs. Baylor in the Liberty Bowl
- Athlon Sports: UK vs. Miami in the Music City Bowl
- Saturday Down South: UK vs. N.C. State in the Belk Bowl
- College Football News: UK vs. Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl
It’s hard to blame the college football forecasters for pigeon-holing UK into the 6-8 win category after losing Josh Allen, Benny Snell and the entire secondary. If the seasons does shake out that way, Music City is probably the least likely option. Bowl games need fresh blood and the Belk Bowl in Charlotte is one destination still unscathed by the Big Blue Nation’s fingerprints.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Mark Stoops’ UK football teams, it’s that they often surprise you for the better. All of this could be thrown out the window if UK’s young secondary proves to be formidable and Terry Wilson transforms into a superstar.
By Nick Roush on ©May 22nd, 2019 @ 1:30pm
College football preview magazine season is just around the corner. Before the publications hit the printers, a few are revealing information online. Up first is Athlon Sports.
Wednesday morning Athlon published its preseason All-SEC team. Drake Jackson was the only Wildcat on the first team, while Lynn Bowden appears as an all-purpose back and a punt returner.
- Lynn Bowden: Second Team All-Purpose, Third Team Punt Returner
- Drake Jackson: First Team Center
- Landon Young: Fourth Team Offensive Line
- Logan Stenberg: Second Team Offensive Line
- Quinton Bohanna: Fourth Team Defensive Line
- Kash Daniel: Third Team Linebacker
Athlon notes this team is based purely off their 2019 projections. By that indication, the left side of UK’s offensive line will be one of the best in the SEC. If Landon Young did not miss last season with an injury, he would be in line for first or second team considerations.
Alabama led the way with 13 players on the All-SEC team, including Lexington native Jedrick Wills, Athlon’s first team offensive tackle. Florida and Auburn were not far behind, each with ten preseason All-SEC selections.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 20th, 2019 @ 4:15pm
Justin Rogers, the No. 1 offensive guard in the country, is about to choose between Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, and Tennessee. Watch his announcement below courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:
By Sam Gormley on ©May 19th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Five-Star offensive lineman Justin Rogers will announce his commitment tomorrow afternoon a 4pm at his high school. The Oak Park, Michigan native has long thought to be a Kentucky lean, but over the past two weeks, Alabama has entered the fold to possibly throw a wrench in the recruitment of the prospect.
A member of the class of 2020, Rogers is the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan and the No. 1 offensive guard in the entire country. Currently, 24/7 Crystal Ball has him as 59% Kentucky with Tennessee, Ohio State and Georgia filling out the remaining percentages.
It is hard to know the impact Alabama coming at him late will have on the prospect. He is coming off of official visits at Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee over the past month, but hasn’t made a trip to Tuscaloosa.
For each prospect that 24/7 Sports rates, they give a specific rating/prediction on what their career will turn out to be. For example, they call recent Kentucky commit John Young a “Power Five Starter.” Rogers’ prediction is even better. The site says he is already a projected second round NFL pick. That fact alone should excite Kentucky fans.
The No. 1 rated guard – @AllAmerican52JR – is 5?? days away from making his college choice. Dude is a straight monster!
Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee, Michigan or Georgia? ????
— Zack Poff (@Zack_Poff_MP) May 15, 2019
It’s no secret what a player of Rogers’ caliber could do to the Kentucky program. When I heard a five-star guard is possibly committing to Kentucky, I never would have thought it would be on the gridiron. That, though, is starting to change. Stoops and company have changed the game in Lexington and if he can get one five-star, who says he can’t get another?
We’ll have an update on Rogers’ commitment once he makes his official announcement Monday afternoon. Stay tuned.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 19th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
John Young is doing plenty of work for Mark Stoops on the online recruiting trail, but he’s also keeping up his end of the bargain on the football field. The four-star Kentucky commit spent the day in Nashville, participating in “The Opening,” a national football camp that makes regional stops across the country.
The offensive tackle is listed as the No. 4 prospect from the Commonwealth and the No. 30 OT in the nation for the class of 2020, according to 24/7 Sports’ final rankings. Based on these videos, it’s easy to see why.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) May 19, 2019
Kentucky OL commit John Young vs CJ Ware pic.twitter.com/bXQU4fK76F
— Charles Power (@CharlesPower) May 19, 2019
— Ryan Wright (@RyanWrightRNG) May 19, 2019
Young is currently listed at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds. He currently attends the Christian Academy of Louisville, but soon enough, he’ll be a Wildcat.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 19th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Wesley Woodyard may still be a Wildcat at heart, but that doesn’t stop him from talking smack about some fellow former Kentucky boys. Or, at least about Benny Snell.
Woodyard, now a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, spent some time back at his old stomping grounds this weekend.
On Saturday, he hosted a golf scramble to raise money for his foundation – the 16Ways Foundation, which is focused on helping kids reach their full potential through education, physical activity and mentorship. Then, he spent his Sunday downtown at the Charles Young Center, where he put on a free youth football camp. Fellow Cat Keenan Burton and current Titans teammate Jurrell Casey also volunteered their time and talents at the camp.
The UK Hall of Famer also used the opportunity to catch up with reporters about the current state of Kentucky football. After one of the most successful seasons (and NFL Draft nights) in UK football history, Woodyard is excited to face-off against some fellow Cats in the league.
“I’ll see a couple of those guys. You know, Lonnie Johnson [and the Texans], I’ll see those guys twice a year,” Woodyard told WTVQ’s Austin Miller. “I’m pretty excited about that.”
Woodyard also hopes he’ll suit up against Benny Snell and the Steelers eventually – he’ll have a special message waiting for him.
“Of course, man, one day maybe I’ll get a chance to see Benny in the A gap or the B gap. And I’m going to say ‘Snell Yeah’ on top of him,” Woodyard laughed.
To learn more about Woodyard’s foundation or to donate to his cause, click here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 18th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Just two days ago, KSR’s Drew Franklin wrote a post about how he was praying that EA Sports would bring back the NCAA Football video game series now that the NCAA is reconsidering its restrictions on student-athletes using their own name and likeness.
Today, his prayers were answered. Well… kind of.
In a statement given to 247 Sports, former NCAA Football Executive Producer Ben Haumiller said he would be “very interested” in bringing back the popular video game series.
“We loved making college football games,” Haumiller told 247Sports via email. “If the opportunity ever presented itself we’d be very interested in potentially getting back into that space.”
Haumiller also added that he appreciates the overwhelming support from NCAA Football fans with hopes that the game will come back eventually.
“We’re glad to see our fans keep the spirit of the game alive, their devotion is really touching,” he said.
The video game series ended following the 2013 release of NCAA Football 14 when the courts ruled that EA Sports had used athlete likeness without permission or compensation. Following the ruling, CBS Sports reported that EA Sports was forced to pay out $60 million in settlements to athletes who appeared in the game from 2003-2014.
From there, the NCAA failed to renew its licensing agreement with EA, and we haven’t seen a game released since.
While it sounds like there is hope for the series to continue at some point, the rule for athletes to profit from their name and likeness has to change first.
Back on May 14, the NCAA announced the creation of the “NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group,” where the ultimate goal is to find out if student-athletes are able to do just that.
“This group will bring together diverse opinions from the membership — from presidents and commissioners to student-athletes — that will examine the NCAA’s position on name, image and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education,” said Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair. “We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area.”
We’re certainly quite a ways away from any serious movement here, but it’s a solid start, nonetheless.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 17th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Vince Marrow is as plugged-in to the heartbeat of the Kentucky football team as anyone, and he has a good feeling about the Cats’ chances during the 2019-20 season.
The Big Dog made a surprise appearance on KSR this morning, where he chatted with our own Matt Jones about next year’s roster. First and foremost, he’s feeling good about his Wildcats.
“I think we’re going to be very good, I really do,” Marrow said. “The schedule sets us up.”
While Marrow recognized the team lost a lot of talented players to the NFL Draft this year (although, he argues more Kentucky guys should have been selected), that doesn’t mean this automatically turns into a “rebuilding” year for UK. Just because they lost experience doesn’t mean the Cats are downgrading their talent. In fact, Marrow argues they’ve done the opposite.
“Here’s the difference: I think we had experience with those guys, the class that just left, because they played a lot. But… our running back room may be more talented than Benny [Snell], and he’s the all-time leading rusher here – the potential is better.”
That potential doesn’t end with the running backs.
“The tight end potential is better,” Marrow continued. “Y’all loved CJ Conrad; y’all are going to love Justin Riggs. Justin Riggs is one of the most complete tight ends that, when I look at it as an NFL guy, he’s 6’6″, 260 and running a 4.7, so he’s going to be a good player.”
He also added some praise for Kentucky’s quarterbacks – both of them.
“I think Terry Wilson is going to be 110 percent better,” Marrow said of the Cats’ starter. “I loved the way he played, but you know, you’ll always have critics.”
And as for the Cats’ backup? Well, that’d be Sawyer Smith, and Vince Marrow is pretty happy with him, too.
“He was tutored by Neal Brown; came in and won nine games [for Troy] when their quarterback got hurt. He wanted to be here; he wanted to be here.”
That last part could be confirming the idea Smith was the one who actively reached out to the Kentucky staff, realizing they needed a backup QB option for next season.
But Marrow is always honest, so he did mention one position of concern: the cornerbacks.
“The only thing I’m worried about, and [cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale] is going to get mad at me for this, our corners.”
He reminded listeners of his similar worries last season with the team’s defensive line, and he says he was proven wrong, as “it ended up being the best position… The D-line played very well.” But the corner position is going to look very different than it did last year, with the Cats losing years of experience and NFL-level talent in Lonnie Johnson, Derrick Baity and Chris Westry.
To compensate for some tough losses at that position, Stoops, Marrow and the rest of the staff hit the recruiting trail. They brought in two JUCO transfers: Brandin Echols (a former three-star prospect) from Northwest Mississippi Community College and Quandre Mosely from Eastern Arizona Community College. They’ll also have Jamari Brown, Stanley Garner and Cedrick Dort Jr, who all took a redshirt last year.
Even with his worries at corner, Vince Marrow is ready to prove the haters wrong – again.
“Look at the pre-season rankings again. Look at all this stuff again,” Marrow said of a national bias against the Cats. “Hell yeah, it bothers me. It might not bother everybody else, but it bothers me.”
Let’s hope that bother once again pushes that Cats to a successful season – and provides some extra motivation for the cornerbacks.