Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that →
By Nick Roush on ©April 20th, 2017 @ 9:30pm
The 2017 edition of Kentucky spring football was unlike any I’ve covered in five years for Kentucky Sports Radio. It was quiet, almost too quiet.
Spring practice has been quiet in the past, mostly due to apathy. Since Mark Stoops arrived four years ago, spring football personified the season. Optimism filled the air like pollen, creating unsubstantiated expectations that created plenty of noise, but would slowly turn into a nuisance.
In his first year, more than 50,000 fans showed Stoops they cared about the football program. Just hearing Stoops’ rhetoric brought fans in droves. They knew there wasn’t much to see, but it was enlightening to hear hope from the head football coach.
The following year, fans received their favorite spring football storyline: two Kentucky kids battling to be the starting quarterback. A former Mr. Football spent a redshirt year learning from an Air Raid alum. A four-star Elite 11 quarterback turned down Steve Spurrier to help bring in the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Adding to the hype was a $110 million stadium renovation, announced just a few months earlier. There was plenty of hope, even though it only produced three more wins.
The third year of spring ball for Mark Stoops was unlike any other spring in Kentucky. A stadium under construction eliminated the game, yet fans prepared for a breakthrough. It was the second year for a lot of things: the starting quarterback, the explosive freshmen playmakers and more star-studded recruits.
The season started with a Boom in a new stadium, but the Cats could not break through, or as Stoops would later describe it, “knock down doors.” They were close many times, but fell flat when it mattered most to fans, at home, under the spotlight.
The close calls filled the spring air with tension last year. More questions were being asked about Stoops’ ability to develop, the theme for every college coach during spring ball. His greatest achievements at Kentucky were all in the realm of recruiting, and even that was under a microscope after a rash of decommitments leading into 2016’s spring practice.
The 2016 team contrasted heavily with the one we heard about in the spring. They “knocked down doors.” They won on the road. They took the Governor’s Cup from a Heisman Trophy winner. They went bowling.
Stoops’ success in his fourth season as head coach took away what normally defined spring practice: expectations. There isn’t an ultimatum at Stoops’ feet. There isn’t even a marquee position battle for people to point to.
On offense, a 1,000 yard-rusher and Freshman All-American gets to run behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines that lost just one player. A quarterback that outplayed the Heisman Trophy winner got to spend six weeks creating better chemistry with wide receivers that have collectively played more snaps than any group in recent memory. On the other side of the ball, the focus wasn’t on, “Who will make all the tackles?” The storyline was, “Who will back up the best safety and linebacker in the SEC?” The young secondary is no longer young. The young pass rushers that surpassed Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith are no longer young. The defensive line that struggled a year ago has new, aggressive leadership.
All of it culminated Friday night by showcasing competitiveness at every position. The stars — Johnson, Snell, Jordan Jones, Denzil Ware, Juice — did not need to play a ton of reps to prove their worth. Instead, Stoops got to show off his young troops. Early enrollees Jamin Davis and Clevan Thomas impressed. Redshirts that spent the season on the scout team — Gunnar Hoak, Boogie Watson, A.J. Rose and Zy’Aire Hughes — provided even more optimism for the future.
Stoops spent his first four years finishing spring ball by discussing important position battles. This year he simply sang the team’s praise for improving as a whole, the purpose of spring practice.
“I was very proud of our players,” Stoops said after the game. “We talked last summer about their capacity to handle more. Well they took a lot of coaching for a long time.”
That quote bores the casual observer and does not create headlines for journalists. It’s how programs quietly develop into major players in the college football landscape. The quiet is exactly what Mark Stoops needed before a season that could take Kentucky football to new heights.
The latest iPhone app taking over the internet is FaceApp, a photo filter app that lets you see what you’d look like older, younger, hotter, or even as a member of the opposite sex. Because it’s a relatively slow news day and we probably won’t hear much from the UofL/NCAA meeting until later, I decided to have some fun with the app. For instance, if you’ve ever wondered what Bruce Pearl would look like as a woman, well, you have your answer right at the top of this post. What about…
Bam Adebayo as an old man
We always joke that Bam looks like he’s 40 years old, but that’s what he may look like when he’s 80.
Devin Booker as an old man
Even as an old man, Booker still has a baby face.
Bruce Pearl as a woman, a hottie, and an old man
Female Bruce looks like a lot of people I know.
Rick Pitino as an old(er) man
Basically Rick right now if he didn’t dye his hair.
Rick Pitino as a hottie
So, Rick when he came to Kentucky.
Rick Pitino as a woman
Is it just me, or does he look like a busted Angelina Jolie? This will haunt my dreams.
Matthew Mitchell as an old man
So, essentially, Fred Willard.
This is my favorite…
John Calipari as an old man
Calipari often jokes about how the Kentucky job has aged him and FaceApp verifies that. Check out Cal’s headshot from 2009, his first year at Kentucky, and FaceApp’s old Calipari on the right:
Now, compare FaceApp Old Calipari (left) with Calipari’s 2016 headshot (right):
Pretty spot on.
What about the KSR crew?
Thursday’s Top 10: Calipari hits the recruiting trail and goes to Whataburger with Jarred Vanderbilt
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 20th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Greetings, everyone, and happy April 20, or Darnell Dodson Day, as we like to call it here at KSR. Or maybe we should start calling it Louisville Basketball Appreciation Day in light of recent news stories. Before I get myself in trouble with too many innuendos, let’s roll through the top ten, shall we?
1. Calipari went recruiting yesterday
Great time with Kentucky coach cal this morning💯 pic.twitter.com/6vXXw9H1wb
— Javonte Smart (@JavonteSmart) April 20, 2017
John Calipari did as John Calipari does yesterday and visited two 2018 stars: point guard Javonte Smart and YouTube sensation Zion Williamson. Smart doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky yet, but judging from that picture, one could be coming soon. Meanwhile, you probably know what Zion can do by now, but did you know he went to the ESPNU studios recently to show off his dunking abilities?
High school dunk phenom Zion Williamson (@ZionW32) showed up to ESPNU and dunked on EVERYONE! 💪😱
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) April 12, 2017
Poor Paul Biancardi.
2. Calipari also went to Whataburger with Jarred Vanderbilt
After visiting Smart in Louisiana, Calipari apparently decided to swing by nearby Houston to take his future forward Jarred Vanderbilt to Whataburger. So, while we still don’t have word on Vanderbilt’s foot injury after his fall in the Jordan Brand Classic, apparently he feels good enough to walk in and out of Whataburger with Calipari. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty jealous of that Whataburger right now. I haven’t been to one since college and it’s delicious.
To see the clip of Calipari and Vanderbilt at Whataburger, check out his Instagram story @jvando_. It’s pretty cute.
3. ICYMI, here’s where the 2017 class ended up in the final recruiting rankings
247 Sports released their final Top 247 rankings yesterday, giving us a final list of rankings for Kentucky’s 2017 class, which is the consensus #1 class in the country with a few big fish still undecided. Here’s where everybody ended up:
4. Four men’s basketball Cats made the SEC Academic Honor Roll
Jonny David, Isaac Humphries, Dillon Pulliam, and Tai Wynyard were among the 70 UK student athletes on the Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll, which is based on 2016 spring, summer, and fall terms. UK had the fourth-most honorees in the SEC and ranked in the top three in men’s basketball and men’s swimming and diving representatives. Eight women’s basketball players also received the honor: Evelyn Akhator, Makenzie Cann, Makayla Epps, Jessica Hardin, Maci Morris, Taylor Murray, Rachel Potter, and Alyssa Rice.
Well done, everyone.
5. What will happen to the Atlanta roads today?
If you think the roads are bad in Lexington, Louisville, or even Nashville, at least you don’t live in Atlanta. Yesterday, a sinkhole opened on Fifth Street in midtown Atlanta, the latest in a series of road issues in one of the worst traffic cities in America. A few weeks ago, an overpass on I-85 collapsed after a fire and on Monday, a portion of I-20 buckled. Basically, Atlanta is falling apart, but at least they have MARTA, which is more than we can say here in Nashville. Seriously, can we get some kind of rail system, Mayor Barry? Lord knows we’re making enough off bachelorette parties and the TV show “Nashville” to pay for it.
6. It’s time to Sweep The Blackhawks
Get your brooms out because the Predators are looking to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks in game four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight. If I haven’t gotten you guys to care about Preds hockey yet, it’s probably not going to happen, but regardless, I’ll be in front of the television tonight at 8 p.m. ET to see them complete the sweep on NBC Sports Network. I bet these kids will be watching too:
— Yale Miller (@twostrangers) April 16, 2017
7. If the NBA’s more your thing, here are tonight’s game times
- 7:00 PM: Cavaliers at Pacers, TNT
- 8:00 PM: Raptors (Patrick Patterson) at Bucks, NBATV
- 9:30 PM: Spurs at Grizzlies (Andrew Harrison), TNT
8. John Wall had himself quite the night vs. the Hawks
Wall had 32 points and 9 assists in Washington’s 109-101 win over the Hawks, which takes them to 2-0 in the series. Two of those points came off this epic dunk and stare down over Dennis Schroder:
A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on
Wall’s game is on another level this season.
9. Richard Simmons spoke out
I know a lot of you are fans of the “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast that came out a while back, and you’ll be happy to know that yesterday, Simmons broke his silence on his Facebook page following a visit to the hospital for gastrointestinal issues:
10. KSR in an hour
Get some work done now so you can give it your full attention.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 19th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
If you’ve read this website for any amount of time, you probably know I’m not a big baseball fan. To me, baseball is the perfect example of a sport that’s fun to watch in person but fails to translate to television. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack and put me in the stands, and I’m happy as a clam (although really, I’d prefer a hot dog and a beer). Throw in some sunshine, a nice breeze, and organ music and there are few things better, really; however, when you’re sitting on your couch watching, it has the same effect on me that non-major golf tournaments do: drowsiness.
Yet, even I am giving baseball another go this week for one big reason: the UK Baseball team is kicking butt. And there’s nothing I love more than UK sports teams kicking butt, especially Louisville’s like they did last night. In Nick Mingione’s first year as head coach, he has the squad ranked in the top 10 in the midst of a crucial stretch of games.
If you’re like me and considering hopping on the Bat Cats’ bandwagon, here are ten reasons why you should:
1. They just beat Louisville
Yes, this is obvious, especially since I just mentioned it, but last night’s win over Louisville was pretty great. Not only is Louisville ranked #2 in the country right now, they beat Kentucky earlier this season, making the win especially sweet. You can read Trey Hunstman’s recap here, but the final score was 11-7, with Kentucky’s 11 runs all coming in the first four innings. Those 11 runs are the most for the Cats against Louisville since scoring 12 in a 12-11 on March 30, 2005, and even though Louisville rallied, Kentucky still held them off.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 19, 2017
2. They did something that’s only happened once in MAJOR LEAGUE baseball history
By now, you’ve probably seen the rare 7-2-6 (left fielder, catcher, shortstop) triple play from last night’s game, but it deserves another viewing, particularly with Neil Price’s call:
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) April 19, 2017
Another view from WKYT’s Steve Moss:
Here is a better look at last night’s triple play… courtesy your’s truly. UK defeats UofL 11-7 and the play is No. 1 on SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/6ep1cXxrR2
— Steve Moss (@smosswkyt) April 19, 2017
How incredible was that play? Not only was it the first triple play in school history and the #1 play on last night’s “SportsCenter,” there’s only been one 7-2-6 triple play in MAJOR LEAGUE history, and it happened back in 1923 between the Phillies and Pirates. Well done, guys.
3. They did it in front of a record crowd
On a night in which there were rain showers in the area, UK set a new Cliff Hagan Stadium attendance record with 4,018 fans in the stands, passing the 4,009 mark set against Louisville on April 8, 2008. Shoutout to last nine people in the door for helping Mingione make some history.
If you need another reason to come on out to The Cliff, here’s one: they’re 17-2 at home this season. That’s a pretty impressive mark. Kentucky’s only two home losses this season were to Ole Miss and Vandy, two good teams that Kentucky eventually went on to win the series against.
Speaking of The Cliff…
4. The new stadium is coming right along
No offense to Cliff Hagan Stadium, but it was time for an upgrade. If you’ve driven around the south side of campus, you’ve probably noticed the progress on Kentucky’s new baseball stadium, which will be completed in the fall of 2018, just in time for the 2019 season. The price tag is estimated to be around $49 million, which will put Kentucky on par with its peers in the SEC. Here’s the rendering:
There’s even a live cam if you really enjoy watching construction. Notice Commonwealth Stadium in the background:
5. They’re defying expectations
Given last season’s struggles and the fact that this is Nick Mingione’s first year as a head coach, everyone — understandably — had guarded expectations for this season…except the team. After stumbling early against a very good North Carolina team on the road, the Bat Cats are now in the top ten nationally and atop the SEC East standings, which is no small feat. In fact…
6. They actually lead the SEC in a lot of statistical categories
After ranking in the bottom half of the league in almost major statistical category last year, they now rank in the top three in most more than a third of the way through the season:
In a league in which most people consider baseball second to football, that’s a remarkable improvement.
7. It’s impossible not to like Nick Mingione
This is probably the number one reason I’m giving UK Baseball a shot. After listening to him on KSR and in other media appearances, it’s pretty much impossible not to like Mingione. He’s young, passionate, smart, funny, and even a little self-deprecating, all qualities I admire, especially in coaches. Listening to him talk about how Lexington was the only SEC town he would bring his wife to while an assistant at Mississippi State and how he dreamed of one day coaching here would probably sound like pure BS coming from most people, but I genuinely believe it from him. As David Spade said in the 1995 classic “Tommy Boy,” he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. It’s no wonder that today, he picked up a big commitment from former Under Armour and Perfect Game All-American Ryan Johnson.
Looking at these photos from @kevinsaal of Mingione addressing his team after the win last night, it almost looks like he’s tearing up:
— Kevin Saal (@kevinsaal) April 19, 2017
Beating Louisville can do that to you, coach. I get it.
8. They’re about to play LSU
The Cats can’t afford to celebrate the Louisville win too much; #8 LSU is on deck for a three-game series, which starts on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Saturday’s game will also start at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. Unfortunately, the games won’t be televised (on normal TV), but you can watch on your computer, tablet, or phone on SEC Network+ or listen on the UK Sports Network via UKathletics.com, 630 AM WLAP, or iHeartRadio.
Hopefully LSU doesn’t bring their rally possum:
9. The former coach is part of the KSR Baseball Podcast
You didn’t expect me to get through this list without plugging our own KSR Baseball podcast, did you? Our baseball writer Trey Huntsman is determined to up our baseball coverage — which was needed — and a big part of that is his new podcast, which is cohosted by former UK Baseball coach Keith Madison. Their guests have included current head coach Nick Mingione and former Cat and former MLB outfielder Austin Kearns.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
10. What else are you going to do with your time?
If you’re like me, you’re itching to fill the time you used to spend watching UK basketball and football with something else. With the Predators playing well, playoff hockey is doing it for me right now, but other than that, I’ll cheer for John Wall and the other Cats in the NBA playoffs, watch the Derby, and that’s about it.
…Which is why UK Baseball is so perfect. Join me on the bandwagon, won’t you?
Six long weeks of spring practice in the Bluegrass culminated in Friday night’s Blue/White Game, and the Depth Chart Podcast is here to discuss it all. From the exceptional turnout to the exciting action on the field, Freddie, Nick, Andrew and Jack talk about…
— How spring game schematics took away the best part of Stephen Johnson’s game.
— Danny Clark is Jared Lorenzen’s spirit animal.
— Players and details that stood out.
— How the setting was ideal for recruiting and hosting a ton of elite talent.
— The real winners of the Spring Game: Young Talent.
— What’s next for the team leading into the “offseason.”
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By KSR on ©April 18th, 2017 @ 7:00pm
The Matt Jones Podcast returns with Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin to share some KSR stories from behind the scenes, including the much anticipated Bahamas story. There’s not just one, but two tales from Atlantis and…
— Alex Legion, Billy Gillispie and how his wild last day at UK could’ve happened much sooner.
— John Calipari’s first decision at UK might’ve been his most important.
— How Tim Couch prepared his team in the locker room before the Outback Bowl.
— Another reason why MKG is awesome.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 18th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Forgive me if I’m a little sleepy this morning, friends. I was up until the wee hours of the night watching my Nashville Predators pull off an incredible comeback to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I’ll be honest, things looked bleak when the Preds headed into the third period down 0-2, but this gritty, gutsy team didn’t flinch, with Filip Forsberg scoring two goals to force OT and Kevin Fiala mercifully ending it all after 16:44 of overtime with this beautiful goal:
KEVIN FIALA. Preds lead the Blackhawks 3-0 in the series. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/IvrLlhfAVA
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) April 18, 2017
Shoutout to goalkeeper Pekka Rinne for shutting out the Blackhawks the first two games and the first 20 minutes of the third game. Even though he gave up two goals last night, he was incredible, and this diving save was insane:
I became a Preds fans during the playoffs last year and now? I’m getting a jersey, man. Nothing compares to the fast-flying, excruciating anxiety of playoff hockey, and at several times last night, I was convinced my heart was going to fall out of my butt. Tea gonna be the real MVP today, but man, what a night. I’ll have my broom ready for the sweep on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the UK Sports world kept churning as only it does. Here’s what’s on today’s agenda…
1. Calipari will check in on Kevin Knox
Most analysts believe Kentucky is out of the running for Kevin Knox, one of two five-stars left on the Cats’ 2017 wish list, but never count out Calipari. According to ye olde Evan Daniels, Cal is firing up the jet and heading to Tampa to meet with Knox tonight, one of four in-home visits the talented small forward just scheduled. Florida State will meet with Knox prior to Calipari, while Missouri and Duke will check in on him tomorrow night. North Carolina is also in the running. We know Knox watched Calipari’s 30 for 30 last week; I can’t imagine better timing for Cal to follow up and make his final pitch as the reviews continue to trickle in.
2. Calipari will also visit Immanuel Quickley
Cal will also work on his 2018 class, traveling to Maryland to visit point guard Immanuel Quickley, one of five juniors with an offer from Kentucky. Quickley is is considered the best point guard in the class by ESPN and was the first point guard to get an offer from Calipari, which is high praise in itself. He’s also got Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Providence, Virginia and Maryland on his list. Watch him work below:
3. Hopefully we’ll get an update on Jarred Vanderbilt’s right foot
Vanderbilt scared us all during the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday when he crumpled to the ground holding his right foot. We continue to wait to find out how bad that injury is. Vanderbilt has a doctor’s visit coming up and is still waiting on the results of the X-rays he had done this weekend, so stay tuned.
4. ICYMI, Vanderbilt did make it official with Kentucky yesterday
Vanderbilt did make his commitment to Kentucky official yesterday, signing his National Letter of Intent in front of friends and family at his high school. Here’s video from Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston:
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 17, 2017
5. What’s the latest with Mark Smith?
Smith is still on Kentucky’s radar, and will likely visit Lexington later this week to check things out. How crazy has life been for the 6’5″ Illinois Mr. Basketball lately? Duke just got involved in his recruitment as well. Michigan State, Illinois, and Ohio State are also in hot pursuit. While Smith seems eager to make his decision in the next week or so, Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson is not. The other guard on Kentucky’s wish list is taking his time breaking down his options and doesn’t even plan on taking the bulk of his visits until after he graduates on April 30. Coincidentally, that’s also around the time Kevin Knox plans to announce his decision.
6. UK Baseball hosts Louisville
This is a HUGE week for Nick Mingione’s squad, which will host two top 10 teams this week, starting with #2 Louisville tonight. The Cards got the best of the Cats two weeks ago in Louisville, so the 10th ranked Cats will be looking for revenge. If you’re able, get on out to the ballpark for the game, which starts at 7 p.m. ET and will also be televised on the SEC Network. UK will host #8 LSU in a three-game series later this week, so plenty of opportunities to cheer them on.
7. If you missed it yesterday, check out Funkhouser’s podcast about “S-Town”
You’ve heard us recommend “S-Town,” the podcast from the creators of “Serial” and “This American Life,” and if you’re a fan, you owe it to yourself to hear our talented Funkhouser crew break it down as only they can. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. I’m pathetically behind on finishing the series, in part because I enjoy John B. McLemore’s accent so much I don’t want it to end.
8. Four Cats in NBA Playoff action tonight
The NBA Playoffs roll on, with four Cats in action in three games:
- 7:00 PM ET: Bucks vs. Raptors (Patrick Patterson), NBATV
- 8:00 PM ET: Bulls (Rajon Rondo) vs. Celtics (James Young), TNT
- 10:30 PM ET: Jazz (Trey Lyles) vs. Clippers, TNT
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard, but Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas will play tonight before flying to Seattle for a memorial service honoring his late sister, Chyna, who died in a car crash Saturday morning. Watching the now viral video of Thomas breaking down during shoot around of Sunday’s game was moving, and I’m sure tonight will be emotional as well.
9. Today’s badass: Staff Sergeant Jose Luis Sanchez
Running the Boston Marathon is hard enough, but imagine doing it with a prosthetic leg. That’s what Staff Sergeant Jose Luis Sanchez did yesterday. Sanchez is a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. He did all 26.2 grueling miles on his prosthetic leg, while carrying an American flag nonetheless. It took him almost six hours, but if there’s a more heartwarming video out there this morning, I’d like to see it:
— AndreaWBZ (@AndreaWBZ) April 17, 2017
What a tough guy.
10. Also tough? Reggie Warford
Former Cat Reggie Warford will have a kidney transplant today, three years after getting a heart transplant. Check out his story via Alan Cutler, and send him your thoughts as he fights for his life:
You got this, Reggie.
We live in an incredible time when it comes to technology. With the push of a button (or the swipe of a finger), you can find out pretty much anything, which is especially useful if you’re obsessed with sports. Not only does social media give you the latest information on your team the second it happens, it gives you a glimpse into players’ lives. Through Twitter and Instagram, players share what they want to with the masses, who, in turn, can respond to them, for better and for worse…mostly for worse.
Everyone says Kentucky fans are crazy — and we are — but I’d argue the worst of that crazy has been magnified by social media. From sports to politics, social media has become a microphone for the extreme, and just in the past month, I’ve seen countless examples of fans who have gone overboard. With that in mind, here’s my ranking of the 10 creepiest types of sports fans:
Creepiest of the Creepers
Catfish Fan (AKA Fan That Pretends To Be A Player On Social Media)
In the week following Kentucky’s loss to North Carolina, someone running a Facebook account pretending to be Bam Adebayo posted a picture of Bam, Malik Monk, and Isaiah Briscoe with a caption reading, “Round 2?”, which people immediately started sharing in hopes it meant they were returning to Kentucky. I was immediately suspicious and asked UK if that was Bam’s real account, and of course, it wasn’t. That means someone, presumably a Kentucky fan, set up a Facebook account pretending to be Bam (and a number of other players), and for the past year or so, has posted on it as though he/she was the 19-year-old basketball star. I don’t get this on many levels:
- First of all, it is creepy as hell
- Second, where’s the glory in it? I understand doing things for attention, but no one knows who set the account up, so what’s the point? Does the person just get a kick out of fooling people and seeing the number of likes/comments they can get?
- Third, who has the time to do this?
The same goes for the countless fake Jeff Goodman and Seth Greenberg accounts that trolled fans last week with false news about players returning/staying in the draft. Like I said before, what must your life be like if you pretend to be Jeff Goodman?
Fan That Tweets Mean Things To Players/Recruits
At some point in your life, you’ve probably yelled a bad thing about a player in your living room while watching a game. As passionate fans, that’s human nature; however, yelling about something in the privacy of your own home and tweeting it to the player on Twitter are two different things entirely. Want to see the dregs of our society? Look up a player’s mentions after they have a bad game. While the good in our fanbase far outweighs the bad, the bad does exist, mostly in the form of “eggs” (anonymous social accounts that harass people because they have no life), or, occasionally, people who have no problem attaching their name, picture, and righteous Twitter bio to insults directed at kids playing a game.
What the heck, man?
Fan Who Sends Death Threats
I hate that I had to list this, but unfortunately, I do. Just, no.
Grown Man That Waits For Autographs To Sell On eBay
People wanting autographs from players is fine, but a few months ago, I saw the ugly side of it when I went to watch PJ Washington play in Marshall County. Several UK fans waited patiently for PJ to sign autographs, which he did, but there was one guy there who didn’t seem like a fan (didn’t engage PJ in talk about next year, wasn’t wearing UK gear), but had an entire garbage bag full of balls and memorabilia for PJ and a few of the other top recruits to sign. PJ’s dad/coach watched the guy like a hawk, and after PJ signed one ball for him, stepped in and said that was probably enough. Most people would back off at that point, right? Wrong. The man went over to a little girl in the lobby and asked her if she would ask PJ to sign his ball. Then, after the game was over, he lingered around the locker room area to attempt to get more autographs before security shooed him away. After talking to some people there, apparently, this happens a lot, and the balls inevitably end up on eBay the next day. Sad.
Fans Who Approach Players While They’re Eating/In The Bathroom
The two times you definitely don’t bother someone? When they’re eating or when they’re doing their business. Don’t make the interaction any more awkward that it already is.
Grown Fan Who Kisses Players on the Cheek
The trend of players doing autograph tours before they go to the NBA Draft is great because it gives fans a way to say thank you and good luck, but inevitably, some fans take it a bit too far, such as this woman, who smooched Skal Labissiere, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk on the cheek, as captured by KSTV:
Before anyone tries to justify this, what if it was a female basketball player and a grown man kissing her on the cheek? It’s weird.
Fan Who Takes Pictures of Players Without Asking
De’Aaron Fox told a story about how a fan waited outside the Lodge for some of the players to come out, and when they did, ran up, took a picture of them, then ran back to his car and drove off, all without saying a word. I get being nervous to ask a player for a picture, but running up, taking one, then running away? That’s just scary. Be brave and ask for the pic; nine times out of ten, you’ll get it, and the one time you don’t, well, you probably won’t want it anymore anyways.
Fans Who Lick Players’ Cars
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) April 20, 2015
I’m sure Devin Booker keeps his car clean, but eww.
Weird, But (Probably) Harmless
Fan That Makes Photoshops of Players
Somewhere right now, someone is hunched over the computer working on a photoshop of Mohamed Bamba in a Kentucky jersey. Spending that much time editing a picture of another person is a little odd, but hey, anything to get Bamba to Kentucky, right?
Fans That Make Twitter Accounts Pretending To Be Kentucky Basketball
Nary a day goes by that I don’t see a Twitter account pretending to be the official Kentucky Basketball account. These accounts are rarely tied to an actual website and pretty much only retweet or straight up copy tweets from the media that follow the team. One of them probably still has Doron Lamb fooled into thinking they’re the real thing.
Jarred Vanderbilt is officially a member of the University of Kentucky’s 2017 basketball class.
The small forward out of Texas inked his National Letter of Intent at his high school Monday afternoon. Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston has the video from Vanderbilt’s signing ceremony:
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 17, 2017
Vanderbilt joins Quade Green, Shai Alexander, Nick Richards, P.J. Washington and Hamidou Diallo, an early enrollee, in John Calipari’s crop of 2017 talent. Another hard commit, Jemarl Baker, has yet to sign his NLI.
Still no injury update though.
By Drew Franklin on ©April 17th, 2017 @ 1:32pm
The Kentucky Sports Radio radio show had a healthy discussion with Phil Moffett, a Louisville businessman and Kentucky state representative, on Monday morning’s show about the financial disaster that is the KFC Yum! Center.
Moffett came on to further explain just how bad things really are — it’s much worse than we thought — and we, the taxpayers, are the real losers.
You can listen to Moffett’s entire interview in the second hour of today’s show:
For a visual of the mess and how Louisville athletics is getting away with robbery, take a look at this graph of revenue across the top men’s basketball programs from Joe Sonka over at InsiderLouisville.com:
Earlier we discussed individual positions. Judging from a body of work consisting of just one open practice and a spring game with a fixed outcome to evaluate, the following are additional observations that may be of interest.
— Uncharacteristically Kicker Austin MacGinnis missed a makeable field goal. No fret, the senior is money in crucial situations. MacGinnis enters 2017 with a streak of 7 consecutive made field goals. His 257 career points rank second in UK history just 48 shy of Lones Sieber’s 305 mark.
— Punting is a totally different matter. Grant McKinniss averaged 39.2 yards per punt in 2016 which was close to the sophomore’s middling outcome on Friday. McKinniss possesses adequate leg strength as seen when he booted a 50 plus yarder. Consistency has been all but absent and must be improved in the offseason.
Strength and Conditioning
— Prior to the game I tweeted that the UK Strength and Conditioning Staff (Corey Edmond and Mark Hill) were in the early running for Most Valuable Player(s). We’ve discussed body changes on the Depth Chart Podcast in length, last night’s advancements were on display for all to see.
— Two examples are true-sophomores: LB Kash Daniel and RB Benny Snell. First, both possess a desire to advance. Success matters to them. Results have been positive and obvious.
— Presence of explosion or quick twitch body movements were more common on Friday than in last year’s spring game. This could be seen in the secondary and at linebacker in particular.
— Much like the example used with Daniel and Snell, individual players must buy-in and self-motivate for the process to work. At times, players that show little strength-conditioning development lack the desire to be advanced. The term “coachable” is applicable here. Self-responsibility and accountability have to be taken into consideration.
— Some may call this recruiting; I’d rather refer to the term as player selection. Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow are proven talent evaluators as the Cats are often the first to offer prospects before others quickly follow suit. There seems to be a common personality trait within the younger players, especially early enrollees.
— Cedrick Dort, Clevan Thomas, Jamin Davis should have been preparing for their senior prom. Instead, the trio excelled in their first spring game. A portion of their success should be credited to natural ability. But as Mark Stoops talked about after the game, there’s a sense of maturity and purpose that resonates within his freshman and sophomore classes. That does not happen by chance. The “want-to” matters as much as the “how-to”.
— Receiver Isiah Epps, DE Abule Abade-Fitzgerald, OT Sebastien Dolcine, OT Austin Dotson, and DE Chris Whittaker fit this same description. Unheralded by meaningless circumstance and evaluation standards, all have a chance to develop into contributors and eventual starters.
— On Friday, younger or backup players looked as good as starters in previous years and starters looked better than their predecessors at certain position groups. I’m not sure if the term “Player Development” has a definition but I’m fairly confident that what I saw on Friday fits the description. This team still has a long way to go.
— Obvious player development advancements in Friday’s spring game occurred at all four linebacker positions, in the secondary as well as along the offensive and defensive lines.
— Gunnar Hoak put on a show and is the future of the program. There is depth at quarterback. However, I’ve heard and read several saying that Stephen Johnson was only successful in the Governor’s Cup and did very little else. Numbers paint a different picture. The senior quarterback finished 9th in the SEC’s Total Offense category with 2364 yards, a 13-6 TD-INT ratio, and racked up 197 yards per game. In addition, his 130.95 QB rating surpassed 2015’s total of 112.01.
— Jamar “Boogie” Watson dominated spring game action just as he did during an open practice. Watson was a basketball player; football was his second direction. Much like other multi-sport athletes, talent evaluators missed on him as he wasn’t a fixture at camps and combines. Those events don’t measure heart nor do they gauge the importance of sport-crossover traits. We’ve also seen this in Josh Allen and will soon see in a bunch of 2017 signees. Watson’s been on campus for less than a year and has taken full advantage of available resources in order to develop into a potential future starter.
— Consistency in youthful success is also a testament to player development. Kordell Looney is a prime example on the defensive line. DE Calvin Taylor is another. Both are obviously better on the field which resulted from countless hours dedicated in meeting rooms, weight rooms, cafeteria, and practice fields.
— Examples are plentiful along the offensive front as well. Guard Logan Stenberg’s advanced rapidly in his two years on campus. Bunchy Stallings, Nick Haynes, and so forth have all greatly improved since day one.
— The most improved player that I evaluated on film was guard/tackle George Asafo-Adjei. Mentally sharp on assignment; the junior’s athletic movements were crisper, more purposeful, and explosive.
— Defensive coordinator Matt House often screams the word “Strain”. I asked him to define the term. In his typical hoarse, post-practice voice, he said it meant to ask more than just good effort. Effort is a mere baseline; strain means to go further. His messaging has been taken to heart as most all defensive players interviewed during spring practice repeated the coach’s catch phrase.
— The defense certainly strained on Friday. At times it wasn’t successful but schematic scales were heavily weighed against them. In the open scrimmage House blitzed then blitzed some more. His aggressive style fits current personnel and produced positive results. Example, OLB’s Josh Allen and Denzil Ware’s name was rarely called on Friday. Both are considered upper tier SEC LB’s and will be active come September 2nd. All SEC LB Jordan Jones didn’t play. His presence automatically transitions the unit’s personality. Forcing the issue will be paramount; read and react has been replaced by attack and disrupt.
— Boogie Watson is now a known name within the BBN. So is Josh Allen, and Denzil Ware. Soon a slew of highly skilled newcomers will join them in Lexington. All of these players are assigned to Coach Dean Hood. OLB is the most difficult position within the UK defense. Dean Hood is a proven teacher and developer. Perfect match.
— Derrick LeBlanc’s impact could be seen on Friday as well. Kordell Looney, Calvin Taylor, Adrian Middleton, Kengera Daniel and others seemed to play more freely and with increased aggression. Both traits that LeBlanc frequently discusses. Competition is another aspect that was a common along the defensive front. This especially applies to the nose tackle position. Knowing the importance of the position to the overall success or failure of the defense, Naquez Pringle and Matt Elam were rotated on the first team based upon play-by-play accomplishment. Looney is pushing Middleton. There is a four-man logjam at defensive end. Competition is a coach’s best friend.
As the defensive line goes so could this team. LeBlanc will play a critical role in this team’s outcome.
Has this been a sunshine pumping post? Partly yes and that’s ok. Things are trending up. However, I’ll say it again; this team has a long-long way to go. As history has shown us, there is a fine line between 5-7 and 7-5.
By Freddie Maggard on ©April 15th, 2017 @ 10:30pm
Expectation management is a measurement that should be taken into consideration when analyzing spring football games. Schemes are basic. Quarterbacks are off-limits for contact. Teams flip-flop players and coaches dial up plays in order to showcase a unit, position group, or an individual player. In other words, the fact the Wildcats finished its spring game with no significant injury should be the only evaluation tool utilized in Friday night’s scrimmage.
The younger players impressed. Let’s dive into analysis:
Eddie Gran wanted to see his players maintain 100% proficiency in assignment and discipline indicators. Did that happen? Not really, but the second year offensive coordinator must have been pleased with his offensive line. John Schlarman’s contract was extended with a raise. Friday night showed the BBN why. The Wildcats will again play with a two-deep OL. I tried to focus on individual, one-on-one blocking. Both the Blue and White team’s big guys impressed and at times dominated.
— Bunchy Stallings was solid at center. On one occasion, the junior snapped the football then pulled around the line-of-scrimmage to set the edge with a block against a pursuing linebacker. Athletic move. Dermontti Dawson type stuff. Drake Jackson also proved that he’s ready for game action. Replacing Jon Toth will not be an easy task.
— Guard Logan Stenberg’s development continues to excite. He mauled defensive linemen and on occasion, defensive backs. Stenberg will push for all conference honors. George Asafo-Adjei may be the most important lineman of the group as he rotated between guard and right tackle.
— OL depth is noticeable. From Mason Wolfe to Luke Fortner; Schlarman has two units that could start for some SEC programs. This is the only time in the program’s history that I can remember that being the case.
— Guard/Center Nick Haynes’ versatility also was highlighted as he played both.
— Pass blocking was not as clean as Schlarman would have preferred. But, high level run blocking has carried over from 2016.
— As expected, we saw very little from Freshman All-American Benny Snell. And, that’s ok. What we did get to see reinforced my gut feeling that the sophomore is leaner, faster, and more explosive than he was a year ago. And, he was pretty darn good in 2016. Snell is the most competitive Kentucky RB that I’ve seen in my lifetime. Holding him back was a tall task for Eddie Gran. But, his OC told us on the post-game set that Benny grew up from the experience. Snell encouraged teammates. Running back is an independent, individual position. Having a proven star being supportive of other RB’s has to be considered as a tremendous and new development.
— Sihiem King rushed 19 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The elusive runner displayed that he can physically run behind his pads in the red-zone. AJ Rose will play a key role in 2017. He posted a couple nice runs prior to being injured from a vicious hit from Eli Brown.
— Overall, I came away more confident in the RB position than I was prior to the spring game. Benny will Benny, but there is depth. Gran will again have a full stable IF Bryant Koback can return from injury. Three RB’s is not enough against the grueling schedule awaiting the Cats. A fourth must surface.
— True freshman Clevan Thomas was as good as advertised. The rookie caught a touchdown and efficiently navigated the middle of the field. As an early enrollee, he should have been preparing for prom instead of going one-on-one with future NFL safety Mike Edwards.
— Kayaune Ross may be the hardest working player on the team from what I’ve witnessed throughout spring practice. Ross caught a touchdown pass on a fade route early in the game. I’ve seen him run that route hundreds of times after practice. Great example. He should be a red-zone threat.
— The BBN finally got a glimpse of TE Justin Rigg. Vince Marrow has harped on the redshirt freshman for two years now. CJ Conrad did not participate, but Rigg and Greg Hart effectively filled the void.
— Stephen Johnson played greedy. Gunnar Hoak played within the system. The result? Hoak outplayed the incumbent starter. If you’ve followed along on the Depth Chart Podcast or occasionally read KSR, I’ve been extremely high on Hoak since National Signing Day a year ago. We discussed this in length when a prior Kentucky QB commitment flipped to another SEC school and I screamed for the BBN to not worry or be concerned because of Gunnar. Poised, confident, and extremely smooth in the pocket; Hoak is the future of the Kentucky Football program.
— Johnson forced the action a little too much for his and the coach’s liking. Near misses on deep passes prevented the Governor’s Cup MVP from having a monstrous statistical outing. To his credit, Johnson started postgame remarks talking about how proud and happy he was for Gunnar Hoak.
— There should be no concern over the QB situation. Johnson is a proven entity. Hoak is a SEC-level starting quarterback. Having two ready to go against Southern Miss is a positive.
-Adrian Middleton appeared quicker and more forceful playing at his new weight of 275-pounds. The least heralded defensive linemen from the Class of 2014 has turned out to be the most impactful.
–Kordell Looney is ready to take on SEC competition. Extremely active; the rookie batted down a pass, had a sack, and two tackles for loss. He will prominently factor in 2016.
–6’9 305-pound DE Calvin Taylor is developing nicely and displayed additional improvement, strength, and lateral movement. Defensive end was a concern, but with TJ Carter, Kengera Daniel, incoming freshmen, and the return of Alvonte Bell the position should be ok.
-Nose tackle play didn’t match the level of the other two DL positions. Concerned? Not too much due to Naquez Pringle’s play in the latter portion of 2016. Matt Elam, Jacob Hyde, or a newcomer will be needed to step up and into a contributing role.
-Disappointed in Jordan Jones. The SEC’s leading returning tackler did not participate in the scrimmage because of a missed meeting. He’s better than that. His team needs him to be better than that.
-With Jones’ absence came an opportunity for Eli Brown and true freshman-early enrollee Jamin Davis. Davis led the team with 8 tackles and showcased why we were so high on him on NSD. I can now see Davis playing next fall if he can add 10 or so pounds. Kid’s going to be special.
-Kash Daniel was solid. He and Courtney Love may not jump out on the stat sheet or highlight reel, but the pair are consistent pluggers for Matt House’s defense.
–Jamar “Boogie” Watson was the defensive MVP. His Friday play was consistent with what we saw in last Saturday’s open scrimmage. We can now project him as a 2017 playmaker. Watson was a basketball standout turned 2-star football prospect coming out of the DC area. Much like Jamin Davis, the kid’s going to be special.
-True freshman CB Cedrick Dort Jr. (5’11 170) will never have to prove his toughness again. The early enrollee took on the block of pulling guard Logan Stenberg (6’6 320) and came off the turf wobbly. The very next play he deflected a downfield pass. Respect.
–Davonte Robinson and Jordan Griffin were athletic and will make plays this fall.
-Didn’t see much out of All SEC safety Mike Edwards as the veteran had very little to prove on Friday. Tobias Gilliam, Robinson, and Darius West filled in nicely.
What does all this mean?
There’s no rationalizing what we saw on Friday. There are so many hidden tendencies that skew evaluation and scouting that again, the only number that matters is zero. Zero as in no major spring game injuries.
This team is better. How much better won’t be determined until September 2nd.
By Nick Roush on ©April 15th, 2017 @ 10:30am
Gunner Hoak is a Spring Game Hero
For the second consecutive spring game, Gunnar Hoak has been the most impressive quarterback on the field. Elusive under pressure, Hoak completed 16-24 passes for 174 yards a 3 total touchdowns (he rushed in a score from five yards away with time dwindling in the 4th quarter).
Hoak showed showed fans he throws a soft pass that’s easy to catch. Even though he got away from a few rushing defenders, that’s part of his game he wants to work on.
“I would say that staying in the pocket and getting the ball out is one of my strengths. Something I need to work on that Stephen (Johnson) does well is getting outside of the pocket and hitting that speed,” Hoak said. “I thought I did well. I have to keep getting better through May and come back in June, lift hard, and get ready for camp.” More of what he said after the game:
Here’s a little bit of what Gunnar Hoak had to say after the Blue/White Game pic.twitter.com/9fDU9o36xS
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) April 15, 2017
What was Wrong with Stephen?
“I was greedy today. The throws that I was trying to make today, I wasn’t trying to do the entire spring,” Johnson said after the game. “I mean, I tried to do a little bit too much.”
After going months without being on the field, he had too much juice on his passes and frequently overthrew his targets. There’s no need to worry about Johnson, but it’s encouraging to see Hoak apply pressure.
Only One Minor Injury
Regardless of what happens during the spring game, the coaches only have one goal: leave without any major injuries. They did just that, but running back A.J. Rose was forced to leave the game early. Stoops said the neck strain was “nothing serious,” but it’s unfortunate his day was cut short. The injury came at the end of a big play, his second big play in just four touches.
The original plan was to feed Rose the ball for most of the game on the first team. Eddie Gran said the redshirt freshman was disappointed, but he’ll have his opportunity in the spotlight.
“I felt bad for him because he was very disappointed, but the young man has a chance. He’s come light-years from where he was last year to this year.”
Watch the Complete Highlights
Four things to look for:
1. A.J. Rose lowers his shoulder on Darius West, then gets 20+ yards on the first play.
2. On Benny Snell’s touchdown, he was almost stopped by his lineman, Logan Stenberg, but as usual, he kept his feet chopping until he entered the end zone.
3. A Matt Jones sideline cameo.
4. Kayaune Ross’ unbelievable touchdown catch on the fade route.
Recruits at the Game
Normally the east end zone is packed with students. Last night it looked like it was all recruits and their families. The early reports from Twitter indicate positive responses from the prospects: “Great day,” and “Great visit,” were trending among the visitors. Vince Marrow was busy talking to as many people as he could after the game, while Stoops spent some one-on-one time with Trinity’s Rondale Moore.
There were a lot of former and future players at the game. Future Cats Lynn Bowden and Isaiah Epps made the trip to Lexington. Danny Trevathan, Jacob Tamme, Boom Williams, Freddie Maggard and Jojo Kemp were just a few former players at Commonwealth Stadium.
How Bout that D-Line?
Stop me if you’ve never heard this before: the first team defense’s leading tackler was a defensive lineman. Adrian Middleton was a disruptive force in the backfield, finishing the game with 5 solo tackles and a sack. On the White Team, Kengera Daniel had 5 tackles, Kordell Looney and Calvin Taylor each had 3 tackles apiece.
Looney was especially impactful with two tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a QB hurry. After the game, Stoops praised Looney specifically, along with the entire defensive line. “We needed to get better and fundamentally play better up front on the defensive line and we have improved a great deal there.”
Secondary Playmakers from 2016
Zy’Aire Hughes started the spring as a wide receiver. About ten days ago Stoops tried him out on defense to help add depth to the secondary. It hasn’t taken long for the McCracken County product to figure things out. With the Blue Team threatening in the red zone, Hughes stepped up and forced a fumble.
Hughes was just one of many from the class of 2016 to make an impact in the secondary. Jordan Griffin stopped a touchdown with a big hit on Clevan Thomas and finished the game with 3 tackles, a sack and a pass break up. Henry Clay’s Davonte Robinson added 3 tackles to the stat sheet.
Wide Receiver Standouts
The most impressive performances from Lamar Thomas’ receivers:
- Kayaune Ross: 3 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown
- Chuck Walker: 2 receptions for 49 yards (a 30-yarder was waved off as a sack)
- Clevan Thomas: 3 catches for 28 yards and a touchdown
- Tavin Richardson: 2 catches for 32 yards
- Justin Rigg: 2 catches for 32 yards
Why is Charles Walker Now Chuck?
When I asked Lamar Thomas earlier this week, he said it’s because Chuck is much shorter than Charles. I wasn’t buying it, so I had to confirm with Walker.
“I went by ‘Charles in Charge’ when I was young. Then Charles when I got here. LT calls me Chuck because it’s one syllable and it’s easier for him to yell at me. I go by Chuck now to him I guess, I’m not really sure where that came from. My mom says my name is Charles. I really could care less.”
If you’re at home thinking, “Aren’t they both only one syllable?” you’re correct.
The Interior Offensive Line is GREAT
If you stopped watching the ball and just stared at Bunchy Stallings and Logan Stenberg, it was like taking a trip to the IHOP. PANCAKES EVERYWHERE. They were great at the point of contact, but it was more impressive seeing them making plays downfield at the second level. This isn’t limited to Stallings and Stenberg; Drake Jackson, Big George and the rest of the crew consistently moved the line of scrimmage on run plays.
Conversely, the speed pass rush worked a little too well on the outside. Luckily, there’s plenty of time to fix that before Labor Day weekend.
It seems we all agree that last night’s 30 for 30 on John Calipari was awesome. It drew raves reviews among Kentucky fans and across college basketball, and it still one of the hot topics on the Twitterverse and internets today.
I assume you’ve all seen it by now — and if you haven’t, what is taking so long??? — so there’s not a whole lot left to say about it on here. But we can revisit some of the best moments by turning them to never-ending .GIFs, which I have done for you below. Enjoy.
We’ll use this one forever and ever:
Calipari celebrated the 1992 NCAA berth by launching Megan in the air:
John Chaney hated John Calipari:
I mean John Chaney really, really hated John Calipari:
This call was bullshit (pardon my language):
And finally, what in the world was Rick Pitino wearing????
By Drew Franklin on ©April 14th, 2017 @ 2:30pm
The annual Blue-White spring game always open the door for the lesser-known Wildcats to introduce themselves to football fans. We already know about Stephen Johnson and Benny Snell and Jordan Jones and Dorian Baker and the like, but there are some young studs on the depth chart who haven’t had their moment just yet. The spring game can be that moment, and I have five potential sleepers who may catch your eye in tonight’s game.
#31 | Jamar “Boogie” Watson
Linebacker | Freshman (RS)
If you’re not familiar with Boogie, you better get familiar. After redshirting last season as a top-100 linebacker out of high school, Watson has turned heads this spring. He stepped in for Denzil Ware in last weekend’s scrimmage and “didn’t miss a beat,” as Freddie Maggard said it, which is very good to hear. Ware is one of the best players on the team, so if Watson is already playing up to his level, the young man has a bright future on the Kentucky defense.
#12 | Gunnar Hoak
Quarterback | Freshman (RS)
Gunnar Hoak is a name you probably already know because he is a quarterback and quarterbacks get all the love. You also probably remember his performance in last year’s spring game when he connected on four of five passes with one touchdown after only being on campus a couple months. With that said, you may not know that he has been great this spring and worked his way into a reliable backup to Stephen Johnson while Drew Barker has been out. Expect another big spring game from him tonight.
#10 | A.J. Rose
Running Back | Freshman (RS)
A.J. Rose was in a competition with Benny Snell last fall to see who would play right away and who would redshirt. It was a tight race that Snell won in the end, as you well know. But now it’s Rose’s time to carry the rock for the Wildcats and he may be No. 2 in the backfield rotation behind Snell. With Boom and JoJo long gone, the offense needs a second ball-career it can trust and Rose can be that guy. Watch him tonight because you’ll be watching him a lot this season.
#90 | T.J. Carter
Defensive End | Sophomore
The defensive line needs guys to step up and T.J. Carter is one of those guys the staff is looking to for just that. Carter burst onto the scene late last season when he shined in the TaxSlayer Bowl as a true freshman filling in for senior captain Courtney Miggins. Now he’s drawing praise as a standout this spring and as a future starter on the defensive line.
#59 | Kordell Looney
Defensive Tackle | Freshman (RS)
Much like Carter, Kordell Looney is a youngster who might have to play veteran snaps this fall. He redshirted last season when he came to Lexington as the 57th-ranked defensive tackle in the 2016 class and he’s already in a battle with his fellow D-linemen for who Matt House will trust and rely on the most. He and Carter were two players that were mentioned often over the course of spring practices as young star on that side of the ball.