I’m back in Nashville after an exciting two days of UK football, culminating in this morning’s Fan Day. Today was a special one for me, since I was able to bring my dad, who served as the KSR photographer. My dad and I have been coming to Fan Day for years, and being able to watch the team practice from the sidelines together was pretty awesome, I’ll admit.
Sentiments aside, the practice itself was very impressive. This was my first time at one of Stoops’ practices, and immediately, I was thrown by how fast everything happens; the coaches shuttle players from drill to drill, with very little time for breaks. It’s amazingly efficient, and if you aren’t accustomed, it can make your head spin a bit before you get your bearings. Nick gave you an excellent rundown of the specifics of the practice earlier, but I’ll add my two cents as I show you some of the pictures my Dad and I took (excuse the amateurism, neither of us are professionals).
First up, the QBs. Like Nick said earlier, it really is a tight race, and hard to predict after seeing only one practice. While Patrick Towles seems to demonstrate the most leadership, calling his teammates into huddles, etc., he is by no means the man in control of the race right now. In fact, Reese Phillips took the majority of the snaps in the 11-on-11s, and Drew Barker looked awfully good, delivering perfect fastballs to receivers left and right and fearlessly throwing the ball deep. This is just a gut feeling, but I think Towles will be named the starter, with possibly Reese as his backup and Drew redshirting. This isn’t a knock on Drew at all; in fact, I think he’s the most talented of the three. But with the current talent and depth at the position, the staff can redshirt him for a season to let him fully develop and learn the system, a rare luxury in Stoops’ rebuilding efforts. However, Drew’s not going down without a fight, as he showed us with the deep balls and crisp passes this morning.
It was good to see Maxwell Smith out there today, even if he was mostly handing off to the running backs, like Braylon Heard below, who will have a HUGE impact this season. This kid is good.
Drew Barker, someone, TV Williams, & Jordan Swindle taking a break:
Another player I was very impressed with was Boom Williams. Williams is an absolute playmaker. He may be small (5’9″), but he is FAST with very impressive footwork. Today, he busted through holes you didn’t even know existed, blowing by defenders twice his size. Boom wears #18 for Randall Cobb and Jacob Tamme, and it’s hard not to think of Cobb when you see him sprint down the field. Fans are clearly already taking to him, erupting in a chorus of “Boooooooooom” after a particularly impressive run.
Patrick and Mikel Horton:
Linebacker Khalid Henderson’s face mask is huge and awesome:
It’s clear the staff knows Matt Elam is going to get the “Julius Randle treatment” this season–aka a lot of double teams–and they’re already preparing him, putting two linemen on him most of the day. However, it is not easy to stop a freight train.
No double team here, but look at how much bigger Elam is than Zach Myers. Insane.
One more of Elam, because I can’t help it.
After two straight days of football, it’s hard not to be excited about this season. I know we feel this way every year around this time, but the young guys in the program–the freshmen class especially–have infused the team with much-needed talent and swagger. UK football still faces a steep uphill battle, but with more and more pieces of the puzzle coming together, you can see the future on the horizon, and it gives you goosebumps.
Tomorrow, we switch to basketball, but I’m not quite ready yet, so I’m off to watch Wesley Woodyard, Avery Williamson and the Titans take on Randall Cobb, Tim Masthay and the Packers. Hopefully Goldeneyes will play at least two series.