UK Football Media Day is underway, and Drew Franklin, Nick Roush, Kindsey Bernhard and Jack Pilgrim are all at Commonwealth Stadium to bring you the behind-the-scenes action. Me? I’m at my home base in Nashville, where I’ll be watching the live stream to bring you Mark Stoops, DJ Eliot, and Eddie Gran’s remarks. Get the F5 key ready and follow along!
Sorry for the delay, Mitch Barnhart went fifteen minutes over his allotted time, and addressed topics such as the hot dogs in Bowling Green, his patience with Mark Stoops, and what is “Twitterable” and what is not. (Example: Cheesecake? Twitterable. Locker room stuff: Not)
— First bit of big news: JUCO LB Jordan Bonner is on campus and ready to go. “It’s good he’s here. He won’t miss much. We’ll see what he can do.”
— Matt Elam has slimmed down. “He’s worked hard. He wants to be an impact player. He’s lost weight. He’s trained hard…Matt looks very good, hopefully that will translate to the field.”
Freddie snapped these pics of “Skinny Elam” a few minutes ago:
— Stoops most excited about the team. They had a “great meeting” last night. “Tired of working on the broad strokes. Our team has the foundation to handle more.
— On leadership: “The leadership is there. We’ve worked extremely hard on it.” Mentions Avery Williamson, Danny Trevathan, and Jacob Tamme as great leaders in the past, hopes there is a similar “natural leader” on this group. Say after the team meeting last night, the players requested a players-only meeting to get on the same page heading into camp.
— On MLB Courtney Love: Stoops says he’s a great leader, is “not afraid to be unpopular.”
— On the new football training facility: “I don’t want to make a big issue of it, but it is a fresh start for us. We’re in a new building.”
— Strength on offense: “We have experience,” mentions running back, wide receiver, and offensive line in particular. “There’s a bunch of guys who have played a lot of football.”
— On Drew Barker: “I like what I’ve seen so far,” says his attitude is similar to what it was in the spring. “I see a calmness and confidence about him, and that’s just part of the process.”
— On Boom Williams: “He’s been super explosive. We’ve all seen that in this stadium in flashes.” Because of injuries, his challenge now becomes to stay healthy and be consistent.
— On Kash Daniel: “He improved. It was nice that he was here for the spiring semester because he certainly improved. And he worked really hard. Work is not a problem for that guy. He has a great work ethic and attitude…He’s really loosened himself up and can move around, which will help him. He needs to continue to pick up all the schemes…I’m very excited about him. He’s going to be a very good football player. When? I’m not sure.”
— On Ryan Timmons: “I have a lot of confidence in him” despite last year’s drop off
— Stoops says team is at full strength with no injuries or academic issues. Alex Montgomery (knee) is still not 100% healthy, but “he’s close.”
— On Barker’s pressure to be a home state hero: “You can label him how you want to label him. I don’t think he wants that label. He wants to be labeled as a quality football player and a quarterback that’s going to lead this team. And yes, I believe he’s ready to do that. All the other stuff, that’s for all of you all to write and for him not to read.”
— Closing remarks: “After a year and a half of going through the building, building a team, building a program, it’s really exciting to get out on the field today and start with a fresh beginning. A fresh start. I really believe this team has what it takes, physically and mentally, to get us to the next level.”
— On Stoops: “I think Coach Stoops has had a plan since we’ve been here, and we feel like the pieces are starting to fall into place.”
— On facing former OC Shannon Dawson in the first game: “It’s an advantage and it’s a disadvantage. I’m comfortable in what he does but he’s comfortable in what I do too.”
— On Drew Barker: “From day one to day 15, he’s done a great job being a sponge, becoming a coach.”
— More on Barker’s leadership: “You can’t be the guy that’s going to be liked all the time. If you’re going to be a leader, it’s not a popularity contest. That’s what we’re looking for.”
— On Ryan Timmons: “It’s his time. At the end of the day, it’s about production. It’s not a hard game. Either you do it or you don’t.”
— On TE CJ Conrad: “I don’t think there’s any question about CJ. I don’t think there’s any question CJ needs to be used. He’s a weapon and you can get matchups with him. I think he’s a heck of a football player”
— On Stoops’ speech at the team meeting last night: “If you weren’t excited and you don’t have goosebumps, then you don’t need to be in this sport. I was at the edge of my seat. I was ready to go. It’s real, it’s time.”
— Concerned about finding leaders on offense, looking for players who are “willing to be unpopular” if it means winning. Mentions Jon Toth, Nick Haynes, Drew Barker, Greg Hart, Garrett Johnson, Jeff Badet, JoJo Kemp as possibilities.