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UK Football Catch-Up: What To Know From Weeks 1 and 2

Brian Moriarty | UK Athletics

Brian Moriarty | UK Athletics

Coming off the team’s first preseason scrimmage over the weekend, now seems like as good a time as any to get caught up on the happenings over at the K Fund Joe Craft UK Football Training Facility. Mark Stoops’ Wildcats have been putting in the work behind the scenes–hidden beneath the headlines of COVID tests, school restarts, the issues in our country, the Big Ten being big chickens, etc.–and this team deserves all of the attention it can get as the Cats inch closer to what could be a very promising fall, given the circumstances.

If you’ve been too busy with your own life circumstances to follow the ins and outs of UK football each day, here’s a recap of what you’ve missed:


New Practice Schedule

The team had to wait until August 18 to begin practicing this year, thanks to the delayed schedule decided by the SEC. Beginning on that date through the first game of the season, they’re allowed 25 practices with a limit of 20 hours per week of practice time.  A five-day acclimatization period was required, with two days in helmets only, two days in shells and the fifth day in full pads. This past Saturday was the first scrimmage in full pads.


Quarterback Room

The quarterback room is in good hands. Mark Stoops said so himself. Stoops recently told KSR, “I know our fanbase will be happy to know we’re in good hands at the quarterback position, going through what we went through a year ago. It doesn’t happen very often when you go through that type of injury at any one position, but we’re in good hands.”

Stoops: Kentucky’s Quarterback Room is in Good Hands

Terry Wilson has fully recovered from last year’s injury and is the team’s first QB. Behind him, Sawyer Smith is back with experience from a year ago; Joey Gatewood is drawing Cam Newton comparisons as he awaits the NCAA’s decision on his eligibility; and Beau Allen, the true freshman from down the road at Lexington Catholic, is doing things like this:


New Names To Watch

It’s still very early in the preseason, but some of the new(ish) names we’ve heard so far include:

Bryce Oliver, Wide Receiver: Need a WR to know opposite of Josh Ali? It’s Bryce Oliver, a redshirt sophomore ready for his turn. Oliver’s name has been said multiple times and on Saturday he took a screen pass to the house.

Nick Lewis, Offensive Tackle: Lewis saw action in 11 games last season as a reserve offensive lineman behind the Big Blue Wall. Now as a redshirt sophomore, he stands to earn more playing time as John Schlarman shuffles around the pieces to find his best version of this year’s Wall. Lewis’ name has earned praise on more than one occasion so far in camp for his play.

JuTahn McClain, Running Back: Though tucked behind a very crowded backfield, McClain “has done some good things” in camp, Mark Stoops said Saturday when asked to list standout freshmen.

Michael Drennen, Wide Receiver: Better known as Donut, Drennen has been as good as expected so far in UK’s offense, having already made a couple head-turning plays.

Izayah Cummings, Wide Receiver: Another freshman to watch among the wide receivers.

Vito Tisdale, Safety: Tisdale made his presence known early in camp by picking off two passes in one practice after he told a veteran teammate, Cedrick Dort, he would pick off two passes that day. Yusuf Corker said Tisdale has the “WOW” factor.



It’s Stoops’ best secondary at Kentucky… and that’s saying something.

Cornerback Kelvin Joseph (Bossmanfat | IG)

We’re only a couple years removed from the best secondary in school history, the one that won the Citrus Bowl and then sent just about everyone off to the NFL. Well Stoops reloaded in a hurry with a great group last season and new additions ready to go with them, and this new bunch may already take the title for best ever.

Wide receiver Josh Ali, who has gone against both, said this current secondary is the toughest he’s faced in practice since he got on campus in 2017. Mark Stoops told KSR, “We’re way deeper there than we’ve ever been. We really feel like we have quite a few bodies in there, both at corner and at safety.”

Newcomer Bossman Fat is among the standouts in camp, along with returners Cedrick Dort and Brandin Echols. Those are three very good corners to go with many other pieces, including Davonte Robinson back from injury with Yusuf Corker, Quandre Mosley, Tyrell Ajian and the aformentioned Tisdale at safety.


Max Duffy is going to run it more.

Really buried the lede, didn’t I?

UK’s superstar punter has the green light to tuck it and run if he sees an opportunity. He said, “I think last year we probably missed two or three opportunities. It’s not a selfish thing for me – obviously, it’s really fun when I get to run it – but from a team point of view, if we can keep moving the ball, we’re going to… I’m going to look for those opportunities a little bit more this year and hopefully take full advantage of them because we missed out on a few last year.”

Max Duffy is Kentucky’s (self-appointed) Special Teams Coordinator


The Big Blue Wall

Mark Stoops told KSR, “They’re blocking the heck out of us, to be honest with ya. And we have a good defense… Those guys are really good players, they’re confident in their experience, and they work hard. That’s a great combination.”

After this past Saturday’s scrimmage, Landon Young credited the defense and visa versa, saying, “Iron sharpens iron, that’s the complete truth. I’ve got one of the (leading) sack returners coming back (Boogie Watson) and that’s who I want to go against every single practice.”

Kentucky’s Big Blue Wall has Three of the Top 30 Returning Offensive Linemen in College Football


Drake Jackson downsized during quarantine. 

UK’s All-SEC center lost 30 pounds of fat while the world was shut down, part of a challenge among the offensive linemen to stay in shape during time away.

“You’re always trying to change your body every offseason, eat healthier, work out hard, transform fat into muscle, but in March when we were hit with the quarantine, I decided it could go one of two ways: I could get fat and out of shape or lose weight and stay in shape,” Jackson explained. “I chose the latter. I’m glad I did. I think going into your senior year it kind of hits you low. It’s not like I never took it serious before, but now it’s really time to get serious and I had a lot of help doing it.”

Drake Jackson’s 30-Pound Weight Loss a Quarantine Trend on UK’s Offensive Line


Stoops turned to RB commit for depth at linebacker.

Inside linebacker depth is the biggest question mark on the roster. DeAndre Square is everything you want in a linebacker, but the unfortunate circumstances around his teammate, Chris Oats, has UK down one key veteran inside. Oats was set to replace Kash Daniel in 2020, now his absence from the team has UK scrambling to find help.

Jamin Davis is expected to be a worthy replacement for Oats in the starting spot; behind him, Stoops is getting creative. Stoops announced at the start of camp that Torrance Davis, the No. 28 running back in the class of 2020, joined the team and will switch positions to inside linebacker.

“Torrance Davis is a late addition to our class,” Stoops announced. “He is a two-way player who can play linebacker or running back and with our need at inside linebacker Torrance agreed to start inside. We’re happy to add Torrance to our roster out of Cleveland. He’s a very versatile player with a lot of play-making ability.”


Week 3 starts tomorrow.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

5 Comments for UK Football Catch-Up: What To Know From Weeks 1 and 2

  1. 2andToodleLoo
    9:22 pm August 31, 2020 Permalink

    Please don’t do the “Joey Gatewood to Cam Newton” comparison without clarifying it’s in looks and strengths. He’s not played like Cam yet. It’s unfair to Terry to get people thinking Cam Newton is sitting behind him.

    • satcheluk
      9:50 pm August 31, 2020 Permalink

      Agreed. There aren’t too many more annoying things about the avg football fan than the tendency to imagine the back up QB is the next Tom Brady. He rarely is, but people continue to do it.

  2. millertim
    8:19 am September 1, 2020 Permalink

    Wow… in true MARXISTmethod, the “tolerant” Left has taken away any criticism of a self-righteous article written by TT. She decided to wipe clean any and all comments that didn’t meld into her narrow world view. Those who lecture about tolerance are often intolerant when the opposing view is presented…. very authoritarian (right out of the Marxist playbook). Again, I find it incredulous that any teenager, much less a highly valued athlete at UK, is above any criticism when they open their mouths and verbalize a position on a national topic… either they are “old” enough to accept criticism or they are too young to be spewing an opinion. You can’t have it both ways—- if they are old enough to express an opinion in a public forum, then they are old enough to accept the critique that follows… that applies to sports columnists as well…

    • WILDCATS1968
      11:14 am September 1, 2020 Permalink

      If also applies to posters who post on a message board. It SOUNDS like to me, If someone does not have YOUR same views and beliefs then they are open for critique. Well that is definitely the fire hydrant pissing on the dog. Remember, you can’t have it both ways. You to have a right to your own opinions and beliefs, but not at the expense of bashing someone for stating theirs. Not agreeing with your beliefs does not make the other person wrong, nor does it give you a reason to bash the person with said different beliefs. if we all thought alike or the same then we would have a uniformed, non individual world. That is something I do not care to live in, a place were everybody has to think, believe, and act the same way as everyone else. Even you have a right to be and think different, but what you do not have, is the right to condemn others for not thinking exactly like you do.

  3. ClutchCargo
    9:30 am September 1, 2020 Permalink

    Back to football…

    The most impressive (to me) of all the things mentioned is that UK Football has not only scooped up the #28 RB, but decided to just switch him to ILB. Never thought I would see the day when we have so much quality depth at so many positions.