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Mark Stoops’ Six Takeaways from UK’s First Spring Scrimmage

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1. Nobody won.  Normally you don’t want one side of the ball to completely overwhelm the other, but that’s often the case.  Eddie Gran wasn’t happy with his offense, but Stoops described the day at Commonwealth Stadium as “balanced.”

“I thought we got better, I really do.  It was a good scrimmage.  I wouldn’t say either side won it or lost it.  You saw some very good things on both sides of the ball,” Stoops said.

2.  Exceptional Ball Security.  A point of emphasis this spring, the offense took care of the ball until the very end of the scrimmage.  A.J. Rose let one ball hit the dirt, but it was recovered by Tavin Richardson.

3. Focus on First and Second Downs.  The Cats weren’t very good on third down last year.  A big reason why is because they were giving up too many yards on first and second down.  With just base packages in place, neither side got too crazy on third down, forcing the other side to focus on playing sound football from the start.

“That’s what we’re really focusing on.  We (the defense) gotta get em into longer yardage on third down.  There was way too many third and shorts, third and mediums last year.”  Stoops added he liked what they did today, but of course, there’s still room to improve.

4. Position Change for Davonte Robinson.  The electric Lexington native spent his first season as a redshirt cornerback.  This year he’s been moved back to safety where there’s more opportunity to see the field.

5.  There’s a Secret to Keeping the Secondary Motivated. “My foot,” Stoops said with a laugh.  “That’s never an issue keeping those guys on their toes.  It’s a hard position.  You can’t ever get comfortable in the secondary.”

6. #Blessed.  Speaking to the media for the first time since his contract extension was announced, Stoops was gracious, then described it as another building block for the football program.

“It’s a very good situation.  I’m very committed to this university and they’ve been very committed to me.  None of us are content.  We want to keep pushing the program forward.”

Freddie was there and will provide his insight later.  


Six Updates from Spring Football

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—  Keeping terminology consistent under Matt House. The new defensive coordinator has a similar scheme to what the Wildcats played a year ago, but it’s not exactly the same.  House is trying to adapt his system to the calls D.J. Eliot used.

“At the end of  the day you try to keep it as close in terminology as you can, because here’s what you don’t want to do,” House said.  “We got a lot of kids who are first year players.  You don’t want ’em to come back and learn a new language.”

—  Good news from the D-Line.  The weakest link on the 2016 defense, Derrick LeBlanc’s unit is currently rolling through nine players, three strings deep, to see who can fight for the right to be first on the field.

It’s encouraging to hear early praise from redshirt freshman Kordell Looney and sophomore T.J. Carter.  The biggest difference between this year and last year is who is in charge.  LeBlanc’s style is much different.  In individuals with Jimmy Brumbaugh, there was usually a lot of standing around while Brumbaugh went from person-to-person to provide instruction.  There’s no standing around with LeBlanc, and much less yelling.  That is saved for position group meetings.

—  A “rusty” Darius West.  The safety is moving around well after suffering a 2016 preseason leg injury, but Matt House said he’s still getting his feel back on the football field.  “(He’s) Maybe not as fast-thinking as you want.  Maybe not as quick to anticipate.”

To make up for lost time, West has spent an extensive amount of time in the film room with Coach Clinkscale to iron out the mistakes.

—  Watch action from the indoor facility.

—  Emerging outside linebackers.  Denzil Ware and Josh Allen have locked down their starting spots.  The concern entering this season is who is behind them.  Last year their depth was extremely thin.  Now Dean Hood is seeing growth from JUCO transfer Jordan Bonner.  Jaylin Bannerman has been a treat, but an illness kept him out of a few practices, forcing Jamar “Boogie” Watson to take all of the Jack linebacker reps.  Watson has been splitting time on both sides, but Hood said the workload while Bannerman was out has been beneficial to Boogie.

—  Courtney Love’s Pup is a Beast.  Technically, he’s a King; that’s the name of his pit/boxer mix.  I’m not sure how we got on this topic, but it’s probably the best interview I’ve had in four years of covering Kentucky football.

He brought King from Nebraska, and he’s become best friends with Greg Hart’s pup.  Naturally we had to show pictures of each other’s dogs.  I’ll always believe my pups are better, especially considering King is a Steelers fan.

@Court_Love10

@Court_Love10

 Hear everything Matt House’s gravely voice had to say after the jump.  

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The Depth Chart Podcast Catches March Madness Fever

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During the month of March, even the football guys gotta talk a little basketball, but it’s not what you might think.  Fresh off the KHSAA Sweet 16, Freddie talks about his time covering the games at Rupp Arena.  There he stumbled upon one of our biggest fans, head coach of Scott High, Steve Fromeyer.  The coach joins the program to discuss a variety of topics before the crew gets to football.  Highlights:

—  If a player leaves Kentucky for a prep school, are they still considered a Kentuckian?

—  How Jake Ohmer got recruited by Rick Stansbury.

—  A former football official, Fromeyer has a different outlook on referees as a head coach.

 

—  The message Eddie Gran is sending to his veteran receivers.

—  Freddie compares QB play before Stephen Johnson as “Hot and cold, like a Motel 6 shower.”

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


The 7 most important parts of Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions

The 7 most important parts of Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions

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If you missed the post directly below this one, UK just extended John Calipari and Mark Stoops’ contracts by two years. The extensions will keep Calipari at Kentucky through the 2023-24 season and Stoops the 2022 season. There’s A LOT going on with each deal, so I spent some time boiling each down to the most important parts, starting with Calipari’s:

1. John Calipari isn’t getting a raise

Normally, when you think contract extension, you think raise, but it’s important to note that for Calipari, the extension is just that. Cal was already scheduled to begin making $7.75 million next season and $8 million in the 2018-19 season; this deal just extends his old one by two years.

2. The only incentive in his contract remains the APR incentive

One of the unique things about John Calipari’s contract is, that while most coaches have incentives, such as payouts for making the tournament, winning championships, etc., he only has one: meeting the school’s mark for the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. In fact, this extension raises that APR threshold from 950 to 975 beginning next season. What does Calipari get if his players meet the mark? $50,000.

3. In 2022, he and the AD will meet to see if they need to raise his salary

While Calipari isn’t getting a raise, the amendment adds a compensation review in June 2022, when he and the athletic director will meet to determine whether or not he should get a raise. If they decide he should, a new amendment (and perhaps a new extension) will be negotiated.

4. Calipari can leave UK without paying anything

Always of note is the buyout clause. While UK would owe Calipari $5 million if they decided to terminate his contract, it’s worth pointing out that should Cal decide to leave, he would owe the school nothing. That’s not new.

5. If UK wins 7, 8, or 9 games, Stoops’ contract extends another year

Not only is Stoops extending his contract two years, if the Cats win at least seven and no more than nine games in a season, the terms of the agreement will extend one year; if UK wins ten or more games, it will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year.

6. Look at all these incentives

By the 2022 season, Stoops will be making $4.75 million/year, but the real change to his contract comes in the incentives. He will make…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

7. Stoops now has a buyout

As I determined last fall, there was no buyout clause in Stoops’ old contract, meaning if he left UK on his own volition, he wouldn’t owe the school a dime. That has changed. Should Stoops decide to leave, he would owe UK $1 million, while if UK terminated the agreement, they would owe him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on his contract.

To view Calipari and Stoops’ contract extensions for yourself, click the links below

 


Photo via USAToday

BREAKING: John Calipari and Mark Stoops agree to two-year extensions on their contracts

Photo via USAToday

Photo via USAToday

Here’s some excellent breaking news. UK just announced that John Calipari and Mark Stoops have both agreed to two-year extensions to their contracts. The amendment to Calipari’s contract extends his deal from March 30, 2022 to March 30, 2024, while the amendment to Stoops’ contract extends his deal from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2022. Calipari will make $7.75 million for the 2017-18 season and $8 million for each season thereafter. Stoops’ contract provides for total guaranteed compensation of $3.5 million for the current year. The total increases $250,000 in each successive year, including the two years added as part of this amendment.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball. We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” Barnhart said. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that.  We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

Interestingly, the only incentive included in Calipari’s contract is related to the Academic Progress Rate, or APR. This amendment increases the threshold for the incentive from 950 to 975 in single-year APR beginning with the 2017-18 season. The bonus will remain unchanged at $50,000.

While Calipari’s contact extension doesn’t include a raise (he was scheduled to start making $8 million/year in 2018-19 anyways), the amendment does adds a compensation review in June 2022, at which time he will sit down with the athletic director to “evaluate market conditions related to the compensation of other intercollegiate coaches.” Should they determine he’s not making enough compared to other coaches, a new amendment will be negotiated.

As for Stoops, the amendment to his contract includes an automatic extension opportunity, so that if the football team wins at least seven games in a season but no more than nine, the term of the agreement will extend one year. If the football team wins at least 10 games, the term of the agreement will extend two years. For each additional automatic extension year, the total guaranteed compensation will increase by $250,000 from the immediately preceding year. The incentives in his contract have also changed. Stoops will receive…

  • $50,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in a non-SEC affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team wins six games and participates in an SEC-affiliated bowl game
  • $100,000 if the football team participates in the SEC Championship Game
  • $200,000 if the football team wins the SEC Championship
  • $200,000 if the football team participates in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach)
  • $300,000 if the football team participates in a CFP semifinal game
  • $400,000 if the football team participates in the national championship game
  • $500,000 if the football team wins the national championship

These incentives were already included in Stoops’ contract, but are worth mentioning:

  • $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season
  • $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher

If UK terminates Stoops’ contract for convenience, they will pay him 75% of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract. Should Stoops terminate the contract, he will pay UK $1 million. Meanwhile, should UK terminate Calipari’s contract for convenience, they will owe him $5 million.

But that’s not gonna happen. Congrats, guys.

Calipari Contract Terms Stoops Contract Terms


Go Behind-the-Scenes at Spring Practice with Dean Hood

Go Behind-the-Scenes at Spring Practice with Dean Hood

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New special teams and outside linebackers coach Dean Hood was mic’d up for the Cats’ fourth spring practice.  For the few that are fatigued with March Madness, this will give you a great football fix.

You’ll see the team hit the field before sunrise, starting with an enthusiastic Hood leading the special teams portion of practice.  Normally you only see Hood’s softer side with the media.  It’s wonderful to see the coach erupt with a bellowing “ATTTTTTA BABY! RIGHT THERE” during the individual period with his linebackers.

Hood helps Denzil Ware tweak his footwork, he gives Jordan Jones a nickname and much more in this fantastic footage from KY Wildcats TV.

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One Freshman is Already Drawing Comparisons to Benny Snell

@abornstar

@aborn_star

Benny Snell Jr. set the standard for freshman football players at the University of Kentucky.  Just a year later the running back might have some competition, from a wide receiver.

Clevan Thomas Jr. has only been on campus for two months and participated in four practices, but Eddie Gran likes what he sees.

“He’s pretty good.  I’ll tell you what he does, he battles.  He’s understanding it.  He reminds me a little bit of Benny in terms of his mentality and how he’s going about it as a freshman,” Gran said after today’s practice.  “Now, lot of time left and all that, but I sure do like where he’s at.”

When the slot receiver first heard what his offensive coordinator said, Clevan was stunned.

“It’s a shock,” he said after taking a few seconds to collect himself. “For him to compare us two, it’s really showing me that hey, I really got a chance to do something for Kentucky.”

They play different positions, but they share a lot in common.  They’re both big bodies from a football background that bring a discipline to the training facility.

Thomas Jr. was so big, he didn’t get to play wide receiver until he was in high school.  “I was chunky.  I was really chunky.  It was to the point where I couldn’t even run,” Thomas Jr. said with a chuckle.

His father, Clevan Sr., told him his future as an offensive lineman wouldn’t work.  He’d have to shape up to be a receiver.  Clevan Sr. knows a thing or two about football.  A National Championship-winning cornerback for Florida State in the late 90’s, Clevan Sr. only recently hung up his Arena Football cleats.  Not coincidentally, Snell’s father also played extensively after college.  Benny Sr. was featured in the XFL’s 30 for 30.

Growing up in a household of professional football players is probably a little different than most.  I’m sure they learned many things, but one thing stands out to coach Gran: discipline.  Everybody saw Snell’s ability to break tackles, but they didn’t see his daily workmanlike mentality, something Gran holds in high regard.

“I do like his toughness,” Gran said of Thomas Jr. “He’s got a mental toughness about him.”

But Lamar Thomas’ takes it one step further than Gran.  Clevan is a quick learner who doesn’t hesitate to ask questions.

“That’s a good thing,” LT said.  “Most kids let their pride and ego get in the way of maybe not knowing what to do, but he’ll stand on the side and he’ll ask, ‘Hey, what was that play again?’  He’s always inquisitive about what’s going on and very aware of his surroundings.  He’s doing a really good job.”

Lamar Thomas has heard his players talk plenty of trash in his day, but Thomas Jr. appears to be less boisterous.  There’s still talking, but he’s backing it up.

“Freshmen, a lot of times they come in and talk big game about learning stuff, and they don’t follow through, but he’s on point,” LT said.

Through four practices they’ve already extended his range, allowing him to receive reps at both slot positions.  Clevan welcomes the challenge.  For him, it’s just another opportunity to see the field.

“I came here early for a purpose.  I just don’t want to come here early and just not play.”

Benny Snell will miss Boom Williams in his backfield, but if Clevan Thomas can continue to develop at this rate, we’ll likely see another No. 18 making plays at Commonwealth Stadium this fall.

 


Tuesday Practice with Coach Gran and Kyle Meadows

Tuesday Practice with Coach Gran and Kyle Meadows

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Kentucky resumed practice on Tuesday after enjoying a week off for spring break.  Offensive coaches and players took to the podium in order to discuss the day’s events.

Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran was first up and provided an offensive overview. Gran is direct, to the point, and does not often compliment. However, he and WR coach Lamar Thomas both raved about true freshman receiver Clevan Thomas. The rookie is playing both slot positions (yes they are somewhat different) and “mixing it up” as Gran would later say. Based on early comments from coaches and players alike, Thomas will most likely play in 2017 and is in the mix to replace the transferred Jeff Badet.

Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran

Question: What was it like first day back from the guys?
Eddie Gran: “Little bit of a slow start, little sluggish but I thought they picked it up at the end. Go back to Install (offensive plays) on Thursday before we get into our first scrimmage on Saturday.”

Question: Was today the day to discuss Drew Barker’s availability?
Gran:Yeah, he came in and got some reps. Got some reps in team, got some reps in one-on-one. Wanted to see where he’s at and how he feels after this. He got more reps today than other three practices. We’re going to take it nice and easy. We don’t have to go win a game here in the next couple weeks.”

Question: When you looked at WR cut ups on film, what did you see from WR’s, stuff they have to get better at this spring?
Gran:This goes for the whole offense, it’s really the details. Competing every single rep. Going up making the tough catch. There will be competing going on. Discipline and details.”

Question: What about a young guy like (True freshman WR) Clevan Thomas where’s he in all this?
Gran:He’s is pretty good (said with a chuckle). He battles, he’s understanding it, reminds me a little bit of Benny (Snell) in terms of his mentality and how’s he’s going about it. Now, lot of time left and all that. I sure do like where he’s at. Right now he’s playing both slot positions, playing F and the Y which is pretty good for a true freshman. He’s getting in there and mixing it up. I do like his toughness. He’s got mental toughness about him.”

Senior Right Tackle Kyle Meadows

Question: How much different is spring practice as a senior compared to your first one as a freshman?
Meadows: “It’s easier, slower, everything is at my pace now, I control tempo.”

Question: What’s your individual focus on this spring?
Meadows: “Mainly technique to finish pass blocking, working with two hands, dig outs, and down blocking. So mainly technique stuff.”

Question: How’s the offensive line clicking without Jon Toth, any different?
Meadows: “Not at all. Maybe like a leadership role we still have to figure out; but as far as the flow of the OL and game, nothing has changed.”

Question: Has Stephen Johnson taken a sterner leadership role this spring?
Meadows: “He’s done a tremendous job at what he’s doing. Transitioning from the beginning of the season to the bowl game to now, everything is following along for him.”

Question: What have you seen from Cole Mosier?
Meadows: “Improved his game completely, I try to base my game off his. There are things he does better than I do. Cole Mosier has worked his ass off to get to where he’s at. He’s put in a tremendous amount of work. Says a lot about him, shows that he cares. I applaud him for that completely. I look up to him because there’s things that I need to do better that he does to a T.”

Question: Which young defensive linemen are sticking out during one-on-one or team drills?
Meadows:TJ Carter and Kordell Looney. Looney has a good motor, TJ Carter has good technique-good motor and discipline. By the time season rolls around or camp, they could be dominant.”

Question: Do you provide the rookie defensive linemen any help?
Meadows: “I try to give them a little help, little pointers like-you’re good at doing this, but here’s how you can counter that move. Try to give them as much insight as possible so they can get better.”

Defensive players and coaches will be available for interviews on Thursday. The Cats will conduct its first scrimmage on Saturday.


Kentucky Football Returns from Vacation for Spring Practice No. 4

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Ten days away from football.  It’s the longest the team has been away from the game since last summer, receiving just a week off after the bowl game.

The players used the time to go home and reset.  Freshman wide receiver Clevan Thomas thought he hated the cold weather in Lexington, until he was reminded of the Miami heat.   Veteran receivers Jabari Greenwood and Blake Bone used the week to catch up with a former teammate, Los Angeles Ram Josh Forrest.  The two enjoyed their time, but Greenwood said it felt weird being away from football for so long.

“It feels back to normal.  It doesn’t even feel right being off that long,” Greenwood said.  “It was good to get away and decompress for a little bit.  I went back home for little bit to see my family, but it’s always good to be back.  I’m not using to having time on my own.”

Eddie Gran said they started a little sluggish, but little time was wasted.

“Spring Break’s over and we have a job to do.  You only got 15 of these things so you can’t waste one.  We wasted a couple series today, but I don’t think we wasted the whole practice,” Gran said.  “They did come back, they did compete and that’s a good thing.  It shows you’re growing.”

Here’s some of the chatter from throughout the practice facility…

—  Drew Barker is back (kind of).  After being reevaluated on Spring Break, Barker is slowly being eased into action.  He was thrown into action periodically, taking reps in one-on-ones and during team period, but as of now he’ll just be used periodically.  He will not see extended time because there’s no rush to get him game ready.

 —  LT’s Defense of Dorian Baker.  Few players in recent memory have drawn more criticism from fans than Dorian Baker.  It’s difficult to erase the negative stigma, but Thomas believes he’s done enough on the field to move beyond his previous mishaps.

“I think you erase the stigma when you make the game-winning touchdown catch against Louisville.  And that’s all forgotten.  I can’t even remember what happened before that, but I can tell you this: he worked his tailbone off to become a consistent man.  I’m very proud of that young man.

When I first got here, he had a problem with missing things.  He’s a kid that now, he does what he’s supposed to do.  A lot of people don’t know, last year he was being bothered by a hamstring.  He finally got healthy at the end of the season.  He finally put it together.

I can tell you this, the Georgia Tech catch was a beautiful catch.  The Louisville catch was a beautiful catch.  The things I told him after the Louisville catch was, ‘Everything that you’ve done beforehand, people are going to forget about that.’  I don’t think about that.  Because, let me tell you something, he saved a lot of people’s jobs with that Eastern Kentucky touchdown.  He saved some jobs with that Louisville touchdown.

I can tell you this.  He’s a much better player now.  He’s a much better person, first of all, and a much better player.  I’m very proud of that young man.  He comes to practice everyday and he comes to get better and I’m very proud of him.”

—  Gran wasn’t pleased with the line.  In their first full contact practice two Thursdays ago, Gran didn’t like what he saw from his offensive line.  “We played high and we weren’t physical enough,” he said.  After starting the spring session without pads, it’s an understandable adjustment.  They simply hadn’t hit anybody in three months.  It was a point of emphasis today and it’s something Gran expects to be ironed out before there first scrimmage.

—  The UK Football Starting Five.  In honor of March Madness, Jabari Greenwood was asked who would be in his starting five.  Lamar Thomas appointed himself point guard, and Greenwood added Jamar “Boogie” Watson, Nick Haynes, Tavin Richardson and Benny Snell.

There’s more to come from Spring Practice throughout the day.  Until then, see everything Gran had to say after the jump.  

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BREAKING:  UK and Vince Marrow Agree to Contract Extension

BREAKING: UK and Vince Marrow Agree to Contract Extension

VinceMarrow

Sources tell KSR that Vince Marrow and the University of Kentucky have agreed in principle to a three-year contract extension that will keep Marrow at UK as the Recruiting Coordinator through 2020. The deal will increase Marrow’s salary to close to $500,000 a year, making him towards the top of salaries nationwide for the position. The deal is expected to be signed and made official by the end of the week.

Great news for UK Football as a key ingredient of the success of Mark Stoops and the program is locked in for a few more years.


Marcus McWilson via Mizzou Magazine

Meanwhile in Lexington, FOOTBALL!

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Editor’s Note: While the KSR crew is on the ground in Nashville, the man who refuses to ever return to Nashville, Freddie Maggard, met with the Kentucky football team following their third spring practice, the first practice in full pads.  The following recap covers yesterday’s Pro Day and today’s meeting with the defense, Freddie’s first using his iPhone’s voice recorder.  “I’m basically Bill Gates.”  

Pro Day

Kentucky held its annual Pro Day on Wednesday. Eleven former Wildcats attempted to impress NFL scouts who represented 23 organizations. Talent evaluators attended the event to check out a running back. They didn’t leave disappointed as fan-favorite JoJo Kemp stole the show.

Kemp recorded numbers that would have categorized him as a “Top Performer” among all running backs at the NFL Combine:

  • 36.5 inch vertical would have been tied for 5th best.
  • 23 repetitions of 225-pounds on the bench press would have ranked him tied for 3rd best in Indy.
Marcus McWilson via Mizzou Magazine

Marcus McWilson via Mizzou Magazine

The Defensive Backs

Marcus McWilson, Blake McClain, and JD Harmon impressed in the weight room and on the turf. While the majority of UK spring practice personnel questions have surrounded how offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will replace homerun hitters Boom Williams and Jeff Badet; an argument could be made that Matt House’s challenge of finding alternatives for the senior trio may be more difficult than previously expected.

  • Combined career statistics: 475 total tackles, 14 interceptions. I’ve often asked why former UK LB Chris Chenault hasn’t been inducted in the UK Hall of Fame. For perspective, the 3 senior DB’s combined for 475 total tackles. Chenault finished his career with 482. I hope UK rights that wrong soon. The retired State Trooper’s absence from the Hall of Fame lessens its credibility in my humble opinion. 

It was obvious that the DB’s put a great deal of work and focus into Pro Day prep. All three would have been listed as NFL Combine “Top Performers” or Top 10 in the vertical jump. I’d expect all to be invited to an NFL training camp at a minimum. While preparing for Wednesday’s show I was taken back by their career totals. McClain, McWilson, and Harmon may have not starred; but leadership, sustained production, and comprehensive experience will leave a void.

Safety/Nickel Blake McClain played a great deal of football in Lexington. 180 career tackles, 3 interceptions, and 3 QB sacks occurred in 35 starts which presents a plethora of film for NFL evaluations against elite competition. McClain ran in the mid-to-upper 4.4 range and recorded 13 bench press repetitions.

Cornerback/Safety JD Harmon was fluid in position drills after a 4.47-forty. Career numbers: 120 career tackles, 7 INT’s, 7 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and 5 QB hurries.

Safety Marcus McWilson also ran in the upper 4.4-4.5 range, had 19 bench press reps, and posted 34 inch vertical. Career numbers: 175 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 QB sacks, 4 INT’s to include 2 pick 6’s.

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Thursday’s Spring Practice 

A croaky voiced Matt House addressed non-Nashville media types after his defense was spotted doing up-downs after the morning practice. That’s normally a sign of a unit that did not exactly win the day. Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator said, “Saw some good things and things we gotta clean up.” The Cats were in pads for the first time this spring.

Defensive Tackle Adrian Middleton

Question: Feel good at 275-pounds, is that a good weight for you?
Middleton: “Yeah I feel really good; feel faster, lighter, feel more explosive. Good weight to be at.”

Question: What are you focusing on this spring?
Middleton: “Really trying to develop a pass rush. Last year we didn’t have that many sacks. Something I’m really focusing on, trying to get a better pass rush.”

New DL coach Derrick LeBlanc has raved about Middleton’s work ethic.

Linebacker Jamin Davis 

Question: How different is Lexington than Ludowici, Georgia?
Davis: “Much busier town, more things to do here. Mainly I hang out with teammates.”

Question: As an early enrollee, how are you adapting in the classroom and on the field?
Davis: “Grades are doing well, I’m glad I came early. I’m watching the older guys so when my chance comes I want the program to stay successful. Keep a winning record and do the right thing.”

Pre-Signing Day discussion about Davis focused on leadership and high character traits. I can confirm this quality after talking with the true freshman linebacker for the first time. He also said that he reported to UK at 198-pounds and is now up to 214.

@Z_Spigg5

This fantastic photoshop is not from Freddie, it’s from @Z_Spigg5. 

Linebacker Kash Daniel was asked about All-SEC LB Jordan Jones. The Paintsville native had the best quote of spring practice, “Expect Jordan to be Jordan. Kinda like the Waterboy.”

The Class of 2014 continued its run on transfers as OLB Kobie Walker intends to depart from the program. By my count that’s 12 transfers from the supposed “best class in school history.”

UK will not practice during spring break. More updates starting back on 21 March.


Outside Linebacker Kobie Walker Will Transfer

Outside Linebacker Kobie Walker Will Transfer

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UK confirmed Kobie Walker will leave the program, becoming the third linebacker to transfer this offseason, joining Nico Firios and De’Niro Laster.

The redshirt sophomore started his career with a shoulder injury, forcing him to redshirt.  Academic issues kept him exclusively on the practice field the following year.  Last year Walker looked like a rising star with 10 tackles in the season opener against Southern Miss, but a suspension and more injuries allowed him to play in just two more games.

Walker was a three-star recruit in the class of 2014.  From Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland, Walker was the first to open UK’s DMV recruiting pipeline.  Walker is the 12th member of the class of 2014 to transfer from Kentucky.

There are three outside linebackers signed in the class of 2017.  With Walker’s departure, Kentucky is just one man over the 85-scholarship limit.


The Depth Chart Podcast at UK Pro Day

depth-chart-jack-kain-ford

This week’s Depth Chart Podcast comes to you from UK’s Pro Day at the Nutter Training Facility.  Freddie Maggard was only available for a short time, juggling TV duties and the podcast, but Nick, Jack and Andrew discussed what all went down, plus:

— Today’s top performers.

— Will Boom get drafted?

— Spring Practice updates from Week One and what lies ahead.

—  A little Sweet 16 talk and football players who are also great at basketball.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbayor via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


What Went Down at UK’s Pro Day

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Entering Kentucky’s 2017 Pro Day, all eyes were on Boom Williams, but today’s biggest winners are a few players not expected to be drafted in April.

Williams was a Top 10 running back at the combine, but his 4.4 40-yard dash time was disqualified.  Unfortunately, that number did not improve today.  In Boom’s two attempts he ran an unofficial 4.53 and a 4.54.  Numbers aside, Boom’s agility in the position drills was clear, displaying excellent footwork and change of direction.

The biggest winners of the day were JD Harmon, Marcus McWilson and Blake McClain.  Kentucky’s experienced stars in the secondary made money, proving to scouts they can make an impact on special teams with elite athleticism.  All three clocked unofficial 4.47 40-yard dashes and displayed excellent agility in the shuttle drills.

Jojo Kemp and Ryan Timmons also performed well in the 40.  Timmons clocked a 4.48 and Kemp a 4.54.  In the position drills, they didn’t drop passes, especially valuable for Kemp who proved he can be a steady presence in the backfield.  Mark Stoops told the media he believes there’s a spot for Kemp at the next level.

Two familiar faces also returned for UK’s Pro Day.  Maxwell Smith ran drills and threw to the wide receivers.  Former UK defensive end Jason Hatcher was also at the facility.  He’s been working out with the team recently but he could not participate in pro day.  The NFL restricts players from drills based on distance from their hometown, and Lexington was outside of the NFL’s restricted area.

Of all the drills, the most impressive part of pro day came from an unlikely player: tight end Tanner Fink.  Fink bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times.

For more Pro Day coverage, listen to today’s Depth Chart Podcast.


Stephen Johnson’s Gotta Brand New Bat

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

Tonight Stephen Johnson returned to the scene of the crime to receive the Howard Schnellenberger Award, given each year to the MVP of the Governor’s Cup.  Before he received the blue baseball bat, he posed with the former UK All-American and his position coach, Darin Hinshaw.

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

In case you forgot why Johnson was the Governor’s Cup MVP, the Kentucky quarterback threw for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns, completed 16 of 27 passes and rushed 8 times for 83 yards to defeat the Heisman Trophy winner.  Some of his best work:

 

Jim Harbaugh and Jabrill Peppers were also in attendance for the Paul Hornung Award presentation, but we all know who The Real MVP is.