After Mark Stoops signed 20 new players on Wednesday, he shared a little insight on what you’ll see from them on Kroger Field in the near future.
Nose Guard Marquan McCall
The top-ranked player in the class will play on the defensive line.
“That was our intention because that’s what he wanted to play when he got here, and we looked at him on both sides of the ball and felt like he was versatile enough to play on either side. The big thing is I wanted him playing at Kentucky, whatever side of the ball was good with me.”
Stoops praised Steve Clinkscale for pulling McCall and DeAndre Square out of the state of Michigan.
I think it was very important. I appreciate Coach Clink did a good job. He had some relationships in there, getting DeAndre out of Cass Tech is important. There’s some very good football players in there. I think he’s done a nice job.
Tight End Brenden Bates
“Brendan is another kid that I could just go on and on about because you love his athletic ability, but more important you love the type of person he is because he is a lot like CJ. In that regard I think he’s bigger than CJ was — I know he’s bigger than CJ coming out, and that’s a nice thing, but Brendan is much like CJ in that he is a great team player and he’ll do anything to help the football team win.
“He’s a competitor. Again, never wavered, not a bit, and was getting pulled and called and all kind of things, and he wouldn’t hear it and he wouldn’t visit. He wasn’t taking any calls. It just says a lot about him and his character and who he is. But very, very good football player, got unbelievable size.
“He’s, again, that prototypical tight end. Both him and Keaton [Upshaw] are exactly what you’re looking for at tight end. You watch their highlights, you see their size and how physical they are and how big they are already, they’ve become very close to the recruiting process. They’ll fit great in that room. I think we have a very good room with the tight ends, and it’ll be great to add those two guys.”
Wide Receiver Bryce Oliver
“I think he was a very big commit. He was obviously on our radar for a good bit, but again, very strong young man. He was taking some time, taking his visits, and we felt good about it, but he came here on campus, had a great visit, and we were obviously extremely pleased when we got that commitment because I believe he’s a big-time player, and he’s going to be a difference maker. He plays exceptionally strong. He’s very mature. He’s all business, tremendous basketball player, so a very good athlete. We’re very happy with him.”
An outside receiver, Stoops said they needed players that could spread the defense by making plays downfield. Marvin Alexander is another player who can do that.
“You look for some guys that have the ability to stretch the field and go vertical and go up over people and make competitive catches, and so we want some outside guys, as well. And that’s what Marvin and Bryce, guys that can get down the field and go get the football. But Marvin was a guy that came here in camp, and after one day of camp, I said, ‘Eddie, we have to have him.’ Like there’s no way I want to play against him, and we need him here. So he was a priority. He’s dynamic.”
Running Back Chris Rodriguez
“We really like Chris. I think one of the best compliments we could give Chris is tell him he’s a lot like Benny. And what I mean by that is you all know the way I’ve commented on Benny early on was we had a good idea of what we were getting. Maybe not necessarily knowing how many yards he would get in his first two years, but we knew he was a strong player. We knew he was mentally tough. We knew he was a competitor. And Chris I feel is the same way. I feel like he’s a very tough guy. I think he’s very disciplined. He’s very strong, gets very tough yards. So we’re excited about him.”
Punter Max Duffy
Stoops was hesitant to share how Kentucky continues to find punters from Australia.
“That’s secret. I could tell you this: Unfortunately I haven’t made that recruiting trip yet, so I’m going to have to maybe go — might have to go here in January.”
Terry “Touchdown” Wilson
“He fits in very well with what we do. I think we molded the offense to what we had to a year ago, like we talked about. We have tried to be more efficient in throwing the ball, and at times we have, and again, that goes with everybody. That goes from protection to receivers and quarterback and so on. I think we all want to take the passing game up another notch, and again, I think — that’s not throwing any shade on Stephen, that’s with the whole offense, and in particular with getting some playmakers around him. But he’s very versatile, but he’s got a very strong arm. He’s very poised in the pocket, but yes, he is athletic, as well.”