By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 1:15pm
Ahead of the 2018 Kentucky football season, it feels different around the Joe Craft Football Training Center. From afar, it’s hard to put your finger on what it exactly is, but for guys within the facility like C.J. Conrad, the difference is obvious.
“I just think what’s different about this year and year’s past, I think our best players are our leaders this year,” Conrad said this morning on KSR. “We had guys who could go big time. Josh Allen is one of the best linebackers in the country. Benny Snell is one of the best running backs in the country. Mike Edwards is one of the best safeties in the country. The list goes on. I don’t think you could say that in the past. These guys are legit.
“These guys are getting national attention and they’re also the leaders of our team. I don’t know, there’s just something to be said about that. When these younger guys come in, they read about these guys and all of a sudden they’re doing things right. It just makes the program want to do things right because you see where they’re at and you want to aspire to be them.”
Head coach Mark Stoops can see how the leaders impact others everyday in practice.
“It makes a very big difference,” Stoops said. “They have to hold each other to a higher standard. We’ve been more consistent. I’ve been impressed, in particular with some of those guys on the offensive side of the ball.”
Consistency is key. It’s also been the Cats’ biggest problem in the past. To address it, players like Conrad and Benny Snell have urged the team to not let up, even after an excellent performance, like what happened in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Going into practice yesterday I told the offense, ‘You know the defense is upset. They got their pep talk. Let’s beat them again, and again,'” Conrad said. “That’s been the thing in the past, one day the offense wins and the next day the defense wins, because they’re mad about yesterday and the offense doesn’t bring it as much. I want to have that consistency on a daily basis because that’s what it takes to win in the SEC.”
Kentucky’s best players have the right work ethic, but exactly how good are these guys? Entering his fourth year, Conrad has seen many come and go, but they cannot compare to what’s on the Cats’ roster in 2018.
“This is definitely the most talent I’ve been around and the most developed; the most mature in general. Those guys playing as freshmen and sophomores are now juniors and seniors. We’ve seen what guys were doing in the past that just wasn’t getting it done.”
So far, Stoops believes this team is getting it done, however, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game. Preparation has put them in a position to succeed. Now UK’s talented leaders must take what they’ve done on the practice field and execute on Saturdays.
“I feel like these guys have really done a lot to put us in a position, but as I told them yesterday, there’s not some magical switch where you just hit and say, ‘We’re ready to play.’ You have to make that happen,” Stoops said.
“Guys can’t get comfortable, just because there’s some experience and some guys have been around. That’s a recipe for disaster to just think that we’re going to turn it on and think that we’re going to play well. We have to play with our hair on fire each and every play.”
Hear all of Conrad’s comments below:
By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 1:01pm
The Kentucky football team will open the academic school year with an unexpected addition.
UK announced outside linebacker Ashtan Pierre has arrived on campus and will enroll in classes this fall. Pierre will practice with the team, but will not play as a redshirt.
A three-star recruit from Pompano Beach, Florida, Pierre initially chose Kentucky over Oklahoma and others. Mark Stoops announced at SEC Media Days that he did not expect Pierre on campus this fall due to an academic situation, but those plans have apparently changed.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 12:30pm
The defensive line has been one of Kentucky’s weakest units in recent years, but according to Vince Marrow, that’s about to change in a big way. On KSR this morning, Marrow said pro scouts who have attended practice believe Kentucky’s defensive line has just as much talent as Alabama or Ohio State’s.
“This is my sixth year here and this is probably the most talent we’ve had on the D-Line as a group since I’ve been here. Every NFL team has been through here already. There have been a lot of pro scouts in here and they say we have just as much talent as Alabama and Ohio State, prospect wise.”
The most impressive of the bunch? True sophomore nose guard Quinton Bohanna, whom one scout told Marrow he would draft right now.
“I tell you what, the big boy in the middle? He’s a future stud. Man, he is. He’s a grown man. I had someone on the field the other day — a couple of scouts were looking at some of our guys that are seniors — he said, ‘I’ll take 95 right now. Right now.'”
In the past, Kentucky’s had standouts on the defensive line like Bud Dupree or Za’Darius Smith; Marrow said the unit’s talent from top to bottom this year will make a world of difference.
“I think that we have at least seven to eight good, quality defensive lineman that can play this year in the SEC,” Marrow said. “We haven’t had that before. We had Bud, we had Z, but you’ve gotta have a group of guys that can go in a rotation and come in and finish this thing out.”
“Their bodies look different,” Marrow added, praising the strength and conditioning staff. “They look like dudes we used to go against six years ago when we first got here. We didn’t have them guys. Now we’ve got them guys.”
By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 12:00pm
This Kentucky football team carries heavier expectations on its shoulders this fall. They are not shying away from the pressure, at all.
With plenty of talent returning, fans have already seen many of these guys make plays on Saturday, but Benny Snell vows this year will be different. The Kentucky running back shared this message to Big Blue Nation on Kentucky Sports Radio:
“To the BBN fans, from this team you are going to see us win more games. You are going to see a fight out of this Lexington team that you haven’t seen before. This team is a lot closer. We’re a lot (more) mature and we’re executing when we’re in-between those white lines, every game. I can promise you that.”
Snell, the self-proclaimed best running back in the SEC, will carry even higher expectations for himself this fall. What are those exactly?
“You’re going see him run. You’re going to see him get his heart out and I’m going to lead this offense to victories,” Snell said. “Rumble young man, rumble.”
Eleven days till kickoff.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 11:00am
This morning on KSR, Mark Stoops reiterated he hasn’t decided which quarterback will start vs. Central Michigan, Terry Wilson or Gunnar Hoak, but senior tight end CJ Conrad said Wilson’s speed could give Kentucky an extra dimension this fall.
“He throws it a lot better than people think he does and he’s extremely athletic,” Conrad said of Wilson, who reportedly shined in Saturday’s scrimmage. “If he was our quarterback at the time, he could be the fastest player on the field. He’s that fast. He’s extremely fast. That’s what I told my dad, if Terry is the quarterback, he would be the fastest on the field. He’s really fast. But he also throws it. He makes really good decisions. He’s not sporadic or anything. Overall, just a good head on his shoulders, good kid.”
Conrad also doled out plenty of praise for Hoak, who he said always makes the smart plays.
“He’s been here the longest, knows the offense extremely well. Gunnar has a nice touch on his passes. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to zip it in there, but he has a nice touch. He’s smart. He makes all the smart throws. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a quiet leader, sort of like Stephen [Johnson].”
Danny Clark is behind Wilson and Hoak in the race, but Conrad said the redshirt freshman’s future at Kentucky is bright.
“He can sling it. He’s the complete opposite of Gunnar. If there’s a tight window, he’s going to throw it. He’s also pretty athletic, runs pretty well.”
Sadly, we don’t have a ton of highlights of Terry at UK yet, so until we do, watch him burn up the turf at Garden City last year:
By Drew Franklin on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 10:40am
If you grew up wanting to be a Wildcat, now’s your chance.
UK is hosting mascot tryouts this Thursday, August 23, in the gymnastics room at the Seaton Center on campus. Students interested in trying out will need to show up in athletic clothes with an unofficial transcript in hand for the 5 p.m. tryout.
It may not be that childhood dream of sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Louisville in Rupp Arena, but let’s be honest: you were never good at basketball and this is your only shot at running out onto the Rupp Arena floor in front of 22,000 fans. So give it a try if you think you’re qualified.
Washed up adults who aren’t students at UK, this isn’t for you. Sorry.
By Adam Luckett on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 10:15am
The season is quickly approaching and for every Saturday from now until January will be filled with college football on the tube. Here in the Commonwealth, Kentucky enters 2018 off of consecutive seven win seasons as Mark Stoops fields his most talented team in year six.
Expectations are high for the Wildcats in 2018 as they have experience and playmaking ability returning to Lexington. With a potential All-American at running back, an experienced offensive line, and proven contributing pass catchers the ceiling is high for Eddie Gran’s offense
If all the bounces go right, here is what Kentucky’s offense will look like this fall.
- Behind center, it appears that Terry Wilson may be the favorite to land the QB1 spot as week one quickly approaches. With Wilson, UK will have a true dual-threat that hasn’t been seen since the days of Pookie Jones when Kentucky landed in the Peach Bowl in 1993. Wilson’s double skill set will prove to be extremely valuable as the threat of the run will open up the passing lanes. Wilson becomes the first UK quarterback since Mike Hartline to throw for at least 20 touchdowns while also proving to be a dynamic option in the zone read game.
- In the backfield, Benny Snell needs 1,412 yards to become the program’s all-time leading rusher. He gets that and more as he rushes for at least 20 touchdowns and finally gets national recognition as one of the best backs in America. Behind him, A.J. Rose emerges as a legit secondary option as he records over 600 rushing yards as Kentucky finds the big play back that was missing without Boom Williams in 2017.
- At receiver, Lynn Bowden becomes UK’s top target and will be one of the receivers in the SEC returning in 2019. Gran’s offense gets more complex with the tight ends in the passing game as C.J. Conrad records at least 25 grabs and becomes a dynamic red zone threat. Dorian Baker and Tavin Richardson stay healthy and make their fair share of plays on the outside.
- In the trenches, UK stays healthy all season as Logan Stenberg collects all-conference honors while Naasir Watkins and E.J. Price are able to contribute as rotating tackles. Drake Jackson is the straw that stirs the drink, Landon Young begins to live up to his five-star potential, and George Asafo-Adjei becomaes a dominant mauler in the run game.
- As a group, Kentucky averages over 30 points per game as a unit for only the second time since 2010 as the offense averages over 200 yards both on the ground and in the air.
Do this and it could be a special season in the Bluegrass.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 9:55am
Good morning, friends, and welcome to a BIG day on Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, the gang is at the Kentucky Football training facility, where they’ll talk to Mark Stoops, Benny Snell, and Kash Daniel about fall camp and the season opener, which is fast approaching. Tune in to get ready for some football!
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (859) 300-3264.
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By Nick Roush on ©August 21st, 2018 @ 9:00am
If you’re like me, you’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing football for over a month, anxiously awaiting the start of the 2018 season. However, it’s more likely that you’re like Drew Franklin, who’s still fighting to get through a Big Blue Bahamas hangover, among other things. Today is the day to kick off that rust and get back into football mode.
Eleven days away from the season-opener against Central Michigan, we have a full slate of Kentucky football coverage from now until this evening that will make you hungry for more.
KSR is Live from the Craft Football Training Center
Now that the KSR Summer Tour has come to a close, Matt and the gang have a day to spend two hours hanging out at the Kentucky football facility. A day before class starts, Mark Stoops will join the program, along with a few players like Kash Daniel and Benny Snell. If this dude can’t get you fired up for football, nobody can.
A New KSR Football Podcast
We subbed in No. 88 for No. 18 and Charles Walker did not disappoint. We spent an hour breaking down Kentucky’s roster, which has a much different feel when one of the guys played with most of the team. You won’t find insight like that anywhere else folks. Subscribe and listen as soon as KSR wraps up from the football facility.
As things change, some things always stay the same. We had not one, but two microphones die in the middle of recording. Feel free to direct all of your technical complaints and comments to @JackPilgrimKSR.
Behind-the-Scenes at Practice
On the final day of training camp, Mark Stoops is opening his door to the media. We will get to watch practice before classes begin and the team transitions into Central Michigan prep. KSR will have quite the crew in attendance to tell you everything that happened once practice wraps up around 6:00 p.m.
SEC Network takes you Inside Training Camp
Since you can’t be there this afternoon, the SEC Network has a tiny taste of what you’re missing. SPOILER: Stoops uses a lot of football phrases that sound like a foreign language (and I absolutely love it).
The Cats got a Vote
The first AP Poll of the 2018 football season was released and the Cats kinda made the cut. Kentucky received one vote, which means one of the 61 voters picked UK to finish 25th. Not too shabby. In case you were wondering, Louisville received zero votes.
Watching walk-ons receive a scholarship never gets old. A heartwarming moment for the player and their family, Neal Brown went the extra mile to make it a family affair for Troy’s long-snapper, Cameron Kaye.
By TJ Walker on ©August 20th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Hello, folks! I hope everyone had a great weekend as we inch closer to football season. Things are slowing down a bit in basketball recruiting but once colleges start across the country you’ll start to see official visits and a good chunk of the uncommitted players will pull the trigger in or before November. Obviously there will be several UK targets that wait until the spring.
As a reminder for those reading the Monday Insider Notes- the concept is simple, but here’s a refresher. I post what I’ve heard over the last week. Things can change and people I’m talking with can be wrong. I can be wrong. I don’t post these Insider Notes thinking everything I’ve typed will come into fruition, but instead give readers an idea of where things seemingly stand but more importantly what people are saying/thinking behind the scenes. I add my opinion and sometimes even disagree with things I’m hearing.
Let’s get to the notes.
Cole Anthony: One of the cool things about the Monday Insider Notes is how I will post something on Monday and by 1 or 2 p.m. I’ll have text messages from sources telling me that I’m right, and they’ll add more detailed information, but more likely one of my sources will tell me I’m wrong. That’s what happened with Anthony. I’ve heard and written about UK being in a solid spot for Anthony, but it will likely come down to how the backcourt looks in 2019-2020. If UK lost a handful of guards they would have a real chance at Anthony, but if Kentucky returned the bulk of Green, Quickley, Herro, Baker, Hagans then Anthony wouldn’t consider the Cats. That may not necessarily be the case.
Anthony isn’t going to commit anytime soon and what he’s thinking in August may not be important come March or April where he’ll still likely be uncommitted, but I was told that UK really isn’t in a great spot right now. Anthony and his family are handling their recruitment in a unique way. They’re not talking to reporters about the recruitment and they have just recently started allowing coaches to be in “constant” contact. Constant was the word used to me and I’m not sure what he meant by it. Everyday? Once a week? I’m not sure.
Regardless, supposedly UK hasn’t been in “constant” contact with Anthony and the Cats aren’t a major player as of today. I was surprised to hear this because John Calipari always wants the best of the best and Anthony may be the best high school point guard since John Wall. Calipari can sometimes handle recruitments differently than other coaches. I could see a scenario where Calipari realizes Anthony and his family want space, so he will give them space. I don’t really know what to make of that news but as of today it appears that other schools have put in more work with Anthony.
I still think we hear of Anthony setting a visit to UK at some point this fall, but if we don’t hear of anything in the next month about a visit to Lexington it would be pretty concerning. Anthony has already checked out a few schools and more visits planned, but so far nothing about UK or the Cats. Let’s hope that changes.
Wiseman: So, he’s going to high school in Memphis. The 7-foot-1, 210-pound center (who has 7-4.5 wingspan) continues to have a great deal of Memphis buzz and that didn’t change over the last week. I wish I had an update on if Wiseman is going to visit in August (this weekend) but I do find the situation interesting. I’m not having anyone tell me yes, but I’m not having anyone tell me that he is definitively not visiting this weekend. My guess is it likely happens in September, but regardless if it’s this weekend or next month, Wiseman will still return to UK’s campus at some poitn this fall. That visit needs to go well. There’s a lot of pressure on Wiseman to stay in town.
I have heard that Wiseman plans on announcing in the spring. He had previously said he’s undecided on when he will announce, but it appears it will be in 2019. This does open the window to a disastrous Memphis season possibly impacting Wiseman’s decision. I’ve been asked if Memphis stinks will Wiseman take that as a negative, and I don’t know for sure, but it certainly can’t hurt UK’s chances. If they stink it will put more pressure on him to help by staying home, but if the Tigers are good then that will make Penny’s pitch to Wiseman even easier.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 13, 2018
Vernon Carey: There has been plenty of buzz on Carey since I said last week I wouldn’t trade UK’s spot with another school. I still feel confident about Kentucky’s chances but it’s not necessarily a popular opinion.
The folks at Rivals and Cats Illustrated don’t feel great about UK’s chances with Carey, but if you listened to my podcast, Hardly Committed, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports said he’s also hearing good things about UK’s chances. It seems like people are split about exactly where UK stands with Carey, but he’s not making a decision anytime soon. The Cats will get him on campus in October and have a chance to really pull ahead (or catch up, depending on where you think things stand).
I still think Carey is UK’s big for the 2019-2020 season.
Scottie Lewis: In the UK recruiting stock market it’s time to buy Scottie Lewis stock. I (surprisingly) heard great things about UK’s chances with Lewis over the last week. I’ve never thought too highly of UK’s chances with the duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of Lewis and UK. Supposedly UK has done a great job in Lewis’ recruitment and I’m told that Lewis was considering making a trip to Ireland to play exhibition games with Aidan Igiehon but was advised not to make the trip. I’ve been told that it was folks in Lexington that gave him that advice.
I’m not sure what to make of the trip to Ireland. I’m not sure why UK or any other college would have an issue with Lewis traveling overseas. Maybe potential eligibility concerns? That’s the only thing I can think of, but if UK were truly concerned about Lewis messing up his eligibility then that would have to be good news about the Cats’ chances? That’s certainly one way to look at it.
R.J. Hampton: Hampton made some news over the weekend when he said that UK commit Tyrese Maxey is trying to get him to reclassify and join him in Lexington next year. One could read this and make assumptions about where UK stands with Cole Anthony, but I wouldn’t read too much into this. Both are from Texas and have played against one another several times. They’re buds. I’m told that UK is open to the idea of Hampton joining UK’s class of 2019, but it’s not something they are anticipating as of today.
I do think there will be a few guys that reclassify from 2020 to 2019 and I know the Cats would be interested in Hampton, but supposedly they’re currently looking at a big to make the jump. My guess would be N’Faly Dante but I wasn’t given a name. UK has offered Dante and also Scottie Barnes in 2020. They are currently the only two players in 2020 with an offer from the Cats.
AT THE BUZZER
Aidan Igiehon: UK is not recruiting Igiehon.
Kofi Cockburn: I’m told at this time that UK is not recruiting Cockburn and it’s unlikely that it picks back up at any point this fall. Some are reporting that UK is on the verge of offering Cockburn but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Oscar Tshiebwe: This is the guy. UK is very interested in Tshibwe and when we look at other options besides Carey, Wiseman and Matthew Hurt- it’s easily Oscar. Watch his game, get to know him. He’s going to become a major UK target before it’s all said and done. WVU is clearly the leader so don’t expect the Cats to waste too much time moving forward.