For almost a year, Mac Jones was primed to be the future face of the Kentucky Football team. The former four-star prospect committed to the Cats in July 2015, but once Kentucky fired Shannon Dawson, his primary recruiter, and Alabama came a courting, he flipped his pledge to the Crimson Tide in July 2016. Now, after throwing for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns in only six games, Jones is one of the biggest stars in college football and a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy. Ahead of Saturday’s game vs. Alabama, Mark Stoops said he’s happy for his former recruit’s success, even if he wishes it was happening in Lexington and not Tuscaloosa.
“Without a doubt. We did recognize Mac early on in the process and Coach Hinshaw and all of us watched him early and we were impressed. We felt like there was a bright future for him and he’s certainly proven us right. I wish he was here but we still really love Mac and his family. A great young man and it’s really good to see him doing so well and playing at such a high level. He’s been so accurate. So, wish he was here but happy for Mac.”
Alabama being good at football is nothing new, but the Crimson Tide’s offense is especially impressive this season; Stoops went as far to say it may be the most explosive offense he’s seen during his 15+ years as a head coach or defensive coordinator.
“We all know what they are this year and what they’ve been for quite a few years. Nick [Saban] does a remarkable job of reloading. They are an extremely talented football team. Very well coached. Offensively, maybe as good of an offensive team as I’ve seen since I’ve been a head coach and a coordinator. It’s been a long time that I’ve seen somebody as explosive as they are offensively because they’re so balanced. They’re extremely physical when they want to be and create unbelievable big plays with the talent and the receivers that they have. Mac’s playing at an extremely high level. Very, very dangerous.”
As you might expect, Stoops had nothing but praise for Nick Saban, who recruited him when he was a defensive backs coach at Michigan State back in the 1980s.
“The man is really like a machine. He just goes about it each and every day and he really is very consistent in his work, and that’s evident with the way they recruit and it’s evident in the way they play each and every year. I’ve known him for a long time. He actually recruited me out of high school and he’s done a remarkable job and I have great admiration for what he does and you’d be silly as a football coach not to look at the things he does and listen to him and see his approach and not grab a few things. You have to be yourself, you have to be authentic, but you’d also stupid if you don’t look at some things that people like him and the success that he has and don’t try to grab and learn from people like that. You’re not very bright. We’re all going to do things our own way and again, you have to be yourself, you have to be authentic but again, you’d be pretty stupid not to look at some of the things he does and try to pick up a few things here and there.”
For more on Stoops and Saban’s history, I’ll refer you to our story on it from back in 2016: