With the Spring Game just one week away, Mark Stoops called into this morning’s Kentucky Sports Radio to update fans on how the football team’s doing in spring practice. Nick already shared a little bit from the interview with you earlier, but here are five more things.
1. He’s pleased with the progress in the passing game
It feels like every year, we hear the wide receivers are better only to be disappointed in the fall. Stoops insists that the passing game is making progress, and won’t just be the Lynn Bowden Show.
“I really like what we’re doing offensively. I really feel like we’re working hard to make improvements in the areas that we all know we want to make improvement in, and that’s throwing the football and getting the ball down the field a little bit. I really feel good about that. I feel like Terry’s going to make a big jump. He’s coming back after winning ten games and he’s worked extremely hard fundamentally, throwing it and just his basic fundamentals.
“Same at our receiver position. I’ve challenged those guys. We need to be better at receiver. We need to have a presence outside of Lynn Bowden. The outside receivers have got to step up. We’re pleased with what they’re doing.”
Stoops singled out Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps, Ahmad Wagner, and Bryce Oliver as players to watch.
“I feel like we have some good young players,” Stoops said. “I feel like they’re really stepping up and meeting the challenge.”
2. He’s also happy with the inside linebackers
On the other side of the ball, Stoops admitted the Cats will take a hit due to the amount of talent headed to the NFL, but he’s very pleased with the interior defense, specifically Quinton Bohanna.
“Defensively, through the middle of our defense, we’re still solid as can be. I really feel great. Quinton Bohanna is playing fantastic and our interior defensive line is still very, very good. We’re going to be good at inside linebacker as well. We’ve got to improve at corner and we’ve got to improve at outside linebacker as well and build some depth there, but I feel good. I feel good about what’s going on. ”
3. Kentucky hosted over 100 recruits this week
How’s recruiting? Stoops said that Kentucky has hosted over 100 prospects on unofficial visits this week, proof that the ten-win season turned heads.
“We are busy, really all week, this week. For instance, I had, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I’ve had official visits this time of year, and it’s an odd time of year to have official visits. We’ve had unofficial visits, probably — this is not an exaggeration — we’ve had over 100 kids on our campus this week for unofficial visits.”
Dang. Nick will have more on those visitors for you tomorrow.
4. Couldn’t be happier for Josh Allen
In less than three weeks, Josh Allen will be part of an NFL franchise. You could hear the pride in Stoops’ voice when he talked about his former pass rusher, who is projected to go in the top five of the draft.
“It’s hard to describe. It really is. I’m so proud of him. So happy. It couldn’t have happened to a better person. He’s worked for everything that he’s going to get. Just couldn’t be more proud and happy for him.”
5. He’s also perplexed as to why no one’s picked up Austin MacGinnis
With the AAF officially over, Austin MacGinnis is once again looking for a new home. Like us, Stoops can’t understand why an NFL team hasn’t picked up MacGinnis, Kentucky Football’s all-time leading scorer.
“I really don’t know. The only knock that you could have on Austin would be the kickoffs. That would be it. The consistency that he has and the leg strength that he has is as good as a lot of those players in the league that are kicking. I agree with you. Last year, when I saw some teams struggling at the kicker position, when they had some openings, I made calls personally to guys and got through to them. In a couple cases, he got a tryout and so, I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets the right opportunity in the right situation, the right organization and he makes the right roster and becomes a kicker in the league for a long time.”
Listen to the interview yourself below, and if you haven’t yet, head to UKFootballTix.com to get your tickets to next week’s Spring Game.