Mark Stoops pressed pause on a busy week of recruiting to talk about life on the road, the 2017 Cats and much more.
1. Will Jordan Jones be Back?
Stoops did not want to say with certainty that Jordan will play in the bowl game. “I expect him to participate in the bowl game. To what extent or how much and all that? I’m not ready to make any decisions on all that right now.”
Stoops was willing to share what Jones must do in order to be back on the field for the Music City Bowl.
“He’s got to be consistent in it, and it can’t be at the cost of the players and the people around him. He knows that. He works hard at it. He’s improved in a lot of areas.” Stoops added, “We tried exceptionally hard to do things right all the time and act right, but we’re not perfect and Jordan is not.”
2. How Many More Recruits will Stoops Add?
Kentucky currently has 18 scholarship commitments in the 2018 class. Stoops said the class will likely finish with 23 or 24 players.
“I feel good about where we’re at. I’ve gotta be very careful with where we’re at in numbers. I think we’re pushing it. I’m already pushing the envelope on where we’re at and how many we can sign,” he said. “We’ll see. Sometimes you get some very, very good players down the stretch here that it’s very difficult to say no to, but I’m very pleased with this class. They have great character. They have great talent. I feel very good about it.”
3. Stoops Prefers December Visitors
Kentucky hosts big recruiting weekends throughout the regular season. It provides players an opportunity to see what a gameday is like in Lexington, but Stoops doesn’t feel that there’s enough personal time with players during a game weekend.
“We’re preparing for a game, and so we don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with them. Myself, personally and the coaches really don’t get to spend a lot of time (with them).”
In December, that’s a completely different story. “We get to spend two full days with them. We get to go sit and sit with meals and enjoy them and get to spend time with them and really get to know them. We always prefer to spend time with these kids. That’s the big thing.”
The coaches get to spend more time with the recruits, and the recruits get to spend more time with Kentucky commits. This weekend is the first of two huge recruiting weekends for Stoops and Co. to close the deal with a few Yahtzees.
4. Where’d you get that Bentley?
Stoops made a splash when he showed up to Florida wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis’ house in a Bentley. “It’s right out back,” he joked. “I drove it all the way from you know where.”
As he left the media room he revealed that he in fact got the car from a friend who lives in Naples, not far from Jacques-Louis’ home.
5. Ready for Redshirts
Over the next month, Kentucky’s redshirts will get to see more action than usual while the primary starters use the time to get healthy. Redshirts do not always participate in day-to-day activities with the team. That changes during bowl season and Stoops is excited to see what they have to offer.
“We were borderline playing probably four, five, six of these guys. We did save their redshirt. I’m excited about these guys getting an opportunity to work and get on the field next year.”
Stoops didn’t want to name names, but KSR has heard that Naasir Watkins, Jamin Davis, Yusuf Corker and Bryant Koback have shown flashes during limited practice reps.
6. The New Assistant will Specialize on Defense
Today he confirmed what was reported last week: his new assistant will be on the defensive side of the football. He’s still not sure if he will hire someone based primarily on their scheme or recruiting abilities. That will be decided after signing day.
Stoops did not get into specifics but he did have this to say when asked if we could expect to see any other changes on his coaching staff: “I really don’t even have time to even get into that right now, but I do feel good an appreciate our staff. Change is inevitable in certain ways within the turnover of our roster and coaches may get other opportunities and move on. So we’ll see what happens and work our way through that as time goes here.”
7. Stoops Did Not Recognize Stephen
Just like everybody else, Stoops could not believe that Stephen Johnson chopped off all his hair. “He shocked me. I saw him the other day. I did not — I had to double take that.”
8. A Quote you can take Out of Context
“I don’t make sales pitches. That’s why I’m in coaching.”
For some reason, that statement drew the ire of a few fans on social media. Stoops was asked to sell the Nashville bowl game over the UofL basketball game. He’s made plenty of sales pitches to recruits, but John Calipari has been awfully kind to his program and I don’t think Stoops wanted to stir the pot and pit one team against the other.