Q&A with D.J. Eliot on Friday

D.J. ELIOT

“We had a competitive practice today, which is good, except we didn’t win every battle. I’m one sided, Coach Stoops isn’t. So, we didn’t win every battle on defense, so we have to fight to do that. That’s our goal, to win our one-on-one matchups, gotta improve on that. Besides that we did have a very competitive practice. We had our fair share of success. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.

On Mike Edwards: “Mike is very athletic. He’s an excellent, skilled player. I think Mike has the cover skills but yet he also has good size to be able to play the run as well.”

On Matt Elam’s progress: “I think Matt is progressing. We’re working in the right direction with him. Anywhere, any position, any sport, it’s tough to play as a true freshman. He was able to do that and be competitive at times last year, which is impressive. Now he has a year under his belt, he’ll have his first offseason under his belt, he’s going to go into his first spring ever, then his second summer conditioning then his second training camp. We’re right on track with him and we’re pleased with his progress.”

On if that’s mainly about conditioning: “It’s a combination. Our nose-guards are very big people, and very big people they can’t play as many plays as very little people. He, Melvin, Jacob Hyde, those guys they rotate in and our of there. They have to get better technique wise, Matt has to be better technique wise and that’s what we’re working on.”

On what they’re looking for out of Elam tomorrow: “I want to see Matt very solid at the nose position and I want to see him really do a good job of holding point and making sure they don’t get any push on him on a run play. On pass plays I want to see him collapse that pocket and disrupt the quarterback and get his hands on him.”

On if practices are physical: “We’ve had two padded practices, it’s tough. I think we’ve had physical practices but it’s too early to tell to say where we are as a team, as a defense, with physical play.”

On what defense will look like without Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith: “The year before everyone was saying what are we going to do without Avery. You know what I’m saying? And Josh Forrest stepped up and did some good things and finished well and made a lot of plays and is playing well this spring. I’m expecting big things from him this year. So somebody is going to have to step up at their positions like Josh did at Avery’s position. We’re working Jason Hatcher, Denzil Ware, we’ve got some guys coming in the fall that will be playing those positions so we’ll just have to have somebody step up and fill those roles. On top of that, you’re going to have to make up for the plays those guys made, not necessarily with their position but as a defense. So we may have to make more plays at inside linebacker, may have to make more plays in the secondary, might have to make more plays at defensive tackle but somebody has to step up and make the plays that Bud and Za’Darius made, of course.”

On Blake McClain: “Healthy Blake McClain is a very good cover player. He and Mike Edwards are a lot like with Blake being more mature now. He’s a guy that can come down and cover a wide out, yet be thick enough to play the run. It’s good to have a versatile player like that. When he’s not as healthy he’s not as good as a cover guy, but with him being healthy that helps us.”

On Jared Tucker being a corner and his redshirt year:  “I think it did help him, but with all those freshmen, especially the redshirt freshmen, this is still new to them. This is a faster rate, this is more competition, they’re being pushed extremely hard every single day. They did experience a year of college football but it was in a waiting period sort of say, if you were a redshirt now you’re in the mix. So all those guys are going through some transitional stages and Jared is one of those.”

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Q&A with Mark Stoops after Friday practice

MARK STOOPS
“Much better practice today, much more efficient. I felt like the guys had much better focus about them, competed better, threw and caught the ball well. Much more competitive plays, it wasn’t just one side having success from the other being inept at times. I just felt like today when sides won it’s because they made competitive plays, so overall just more efficient, better. If we work with that kind of mentality, that kind of effort every day, we’ll have a chance to put together a good football team. But we’ve got to be consistent and I challenged them to come back tomorrow and have a good practice.”

On anyone stepping into leadership roles in response to bad practice: “Really just across the board I felt like across the board we were more efficient. Each guy personally took it upon himself. Individually, leadership wise, nobody really did to be honest with you, just jump out at me and take charge. I just felt like the entire team had a little bit more pride about themselves and their work and we were more efficient.”

On anything they’re working on for tomorrow: “As you know, going back to Wednesday’s practice I was unhappy. We were not very efficient on either side of the ball. So today, offensively certainly, we made a conscious effort to get the ball down the field and they did. So that’s never good if you look at it from a defensive point of view. I do find myself cheering obviously for the offensive to make competitive plays. If we don’t make plays down the field we ain’t going to win football games. I just felt like there were some very good individual efforts today and the ball was in the right places and made some good plays down the field. If you’re looking for one thing tomorrow I hope they don’t get as many down the field.”

On if any receivers or QBs stood out: “I felt both quarterbacks were much more efficient today. Both were extremely inaccurate on Wednesday. They bounced back and both had a good day today. It was hard to tell who was in there at quarterback to be honest with you as I was looking down the field and seeing some balls completed. Both guys were efficient; I noticed them both at times. Garrett Johnson is a guy that’s stood out a little bit. Got the ball down the field. Blake (Bone) was back at full strength today. He had just had a minor issue on Wednesday. That hurt us at the outside receiver position. Blake in there makes a difference. With Dorian being out for the spring, then if Blake is out it puts a hurting on us at the outside receiver position. So I noticed him today making some plays down the field. We have to be good and win some one-on-ones outside to be efficient offensively.”

On what Thaddeus Snodgrass brings: “He’s getting a lot better. He’s constantly working. He’s a bigger, stronger guy. He can run. He’s just getting better and better. You see flashes with him as well.”

On what he charged Towles with in offseason: “We saw flashes of some great play last year. He has a big arm and he throws the ball down the field very well. We need to be more accurate intermediately and that’s something that we’re constantly working on and making good decisions, quick decisions.”

On if accuracy is more than just completing the pass: “To the right guy in the right spot. Accuracy is the big thing. When yards are tough to come by, if you’re throwing it in the right spot, sometimes it will lead to four or five, six more yards or zero yards after catch, so it’s a big thing where we place the football.”

On UK’s small senior class: “The guys that are here need to step up. Certainly you’d like to have a bigger senior class but it is what it is, the guys that are here need to step up and take charge and maybe need some younger guys to step up as well.”

On Matt Elam’s progression: “I’ve watched the tape. He’s been a little bit inconsistent. He’s a very good football player but we gotta get him to play well every snap. He has that kind of ability. I believe there was a play or two today that I have to watch on film that I thought he could have played better.”

On Blake McClain’s health, his position and how he changes a defense: “He’s playing both nickel and safety. He plays strong safety and nickel. He easily makes that transition. He’s playing both spots. He’s back at full strength and he’s doing some very good things. He’s got some good experience now; he’s played quite a bit. Like I’ve always said about him I really like his versatility. I expect him to keep on getting better and better.”

On some redshirt guys from last year: “I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen out of Mike Edwards. Very pleased. Kobie as well. Kobie is a little bit of a tweener still, we like him because he’s rangy and he’s athletic and he’s going to grow into what we want at the linebacker position. Right now we’re playing him a little bit at outside backer or a nickel type position depending on the down and distance and the personnel in the game. We’re playing him a little bit at safety. But very good football player, needs to continue to work on his strength and size and things like that. Mike Edwards is a guy that I really like what I’ve seen. He’s had five practices and I really like what I see out of him. I think he’s going to be a very good football player. I like the instincts like you’ve heard me talk about before. We put guys in position but ultimately sometimes you gotta to have instincts, you gotta to make plays and I see a nice comfort zone with him. He’s still very raw, five practices in, got a lot to learn but ability wise he looks like he has everything I want.”

On Elam’s conditioning: “He’s getting better. He’s worked hard. He needs to continue to work hard, get in great shape and play every down to his ability level. That’s our job to get him to do that. He’s a wonderful kid. Great to be in our program. He’s a good football player but we just need to continue to push him to make sure we get him at the highest level he can play at.”

On how much more pushing he needs: “He’s a work in progress like a lot of our guys. He’s by no means a finished product and he knows that. He’s got a good attitude. He’s got to continue to work and just get better. There’s a lot of times, a lot of opportunities on the field, practicing, in the weight room, conditioning and all that between now and the first game. He has to continue to work hard and attack each and every day to become the best player that he can be.”

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Details on UK’s open practice on Saturday

Because of Commonwealth Stadium renovations, Kentucky will not have a Blue-White Game, but Mark Stoops said he still wanted fans to have a chance to see the team this spring.

So the Cats coach is opening practice on Saturday morning at 10:30 for media and fans, the school announced on Wednesday afternoon. The practice also will serve as an unofficial visit for several recruits.

“Without the spring game, I said I wanted to open up practices … give the fans an opportunity to watch us a little bit,” Stoops said after Wednesday’s practice.

The gates to the Tim Couch Practice Fields will open at 10:30 a.m. and fans can enter at three areas of the facility, two accessible from the C8 parking lot and the third gate accessible from the Cooper Drive/E-Lot parking lot. The practice may move to the Nutter Field House next to Commonwealth Stadium in the event of bad weather.

Via release, UK added that no chairs are permitted and asked fans to stay behind all signs, painted lines and ropes. The Nutter Training Center will not be open to the public and restrooms will be located in the C8 parking lot between Cliff Hagan Stadium and the football practice fields.

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Q&A with Shannon Dawson after practice

SHANNON DAWSON
On Wednesday’s practice: “Well, I didn’t see many good things. Hopefully when I watch film, it’ll look a little different than what it looked in real time, so we’ll see.”

On Jacob Hyde at fullback: “He’s got a low center of gravity and you like, especially in those short yardage situations, it’s good to have big bodies. I mean, you utilize who you have. He looks the part, so we’ll see. We’ll see if he can do some things. I wouldn’t anticipate him being on the field for 90 snaps, but in special situations and whatnot.”

On whether that means Hyde won’t be catching the ball out of backfield: “I don’t know how good of hands he has, to be honest with you. So we’ll see. But I’m sure if we threw it to him, he’d be wide open, because they wouldn’t expect it either.”

On how much a fullback gets used in his style: “A good bit. Over the past three or four years, we’ve used it more and more. I just think with the trying to be a little more physical, those guys have a bigger and bigger role every year. You need those guys a lot and we try to do a lot with them in multiple situations, not just lining up in the backfield, fullback-wise.”

On whether a quarterback can improve his accuracy at this stage in his career: “I think he can. The biggest thing is a lot of times, being accurate has a lot to do with just having a clear mind. If you have a clear mind, typically, you make a little more decisive decisions and there’s probably a better chance for you to be accurate if you have a clear mind. So just another year of experience is going to help with that. There are some technical things obviously that you can do. There’s no overhaul. The way you throw a football is the way you throw a football. There’s some things you can do in the lower body, some things you can do tightening up throwing motions that you can do. I don’t see huge problems with him in that area. He wasn’t very accurate all day today, anybody, so it wasn’t just him.”

On how much more responsibility the quarterback has in this offense: “A lot more when it comes to communication. That’s probably the biggest difference. He’s communicating with everybody, so in between plays, the other 10 guys’ eyes are on the quarterback. I don’t know how much, I don’t really know how much they were communicating last year, to be honest with you. I just know what we do is we dump a lot on him getting everybody on the same page. We didn’t do a very good job of that today, so hopefully we’ll do better next practice.”

On what he does to “clear a quarterback’s mind” as he discussed: “You don’t try to do a lot, but you program them to have simple thought processes. A lot of people try to put too many scenarios in their minds. To me, you need to really have a pre-snap thought process and a post-snap process, and if both of them aren’t extremely clear and extremely simple, than you’ve got some issues. You can’t sit there and dissect a million different things when you’re trying to execute a play when you’ve got the clock running down, when you’ve got people moving around; it’s chaotic. You’ve got to fine-tune exactly what you’re focusing on on every single play. Then that way, you can make a clear decision. That’s the only way that I know how to do it. I talk a lot about pre-snap and post-snap thought processes, and both of them are extremely simple. And every play has a specific pre-snap thought process. Your eyes should be in a certain place and it’s very simple. And then after the ball is in your hands, there’s a process we go through on every specific play. And I think that has to be detailed. That has to be ingrained in their mind where it becomes second nature. Now, in doing that, you can’t do a million different things or obviously that clouds your mind, too. So it’s a combination of having a clear process and trying not to do too much.”

On running back position standouts: “Nobody stood out today.”

On whether any stood out on tape from earlier practices: “We were only in pads one day before that, so I’m not really going to talk about anybody individually right now because I don’t think it’s fair. We’re sitting here; we’re competing. I think we have a lot of capable bodies back there, but I don’t think anybody did particularly well today and I think anybody that walked in here, player or coach, would walk in here and tell you the same thing. Now is that unlike everybody else in the nation? Probably not so much. But the bottom line is, if we played today, we’d get beat. There’s no doubt about it. We ain’t moving the ball today, not the way we played. So we’ve got to get better.”

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Q&A with Mark Stoops after return to spring practice

MARK STOOPS
“Very average practice today. I’ll tell you I was a little disappointed. We haven’t been out there for a few days, and it showed. Very inaccurate throwing the football; we’re not very clean in catching the ball. Neither side really. Just an average day. We’ve got a long way to go. Players gotta continue to push through and be more disciplined in what we’re doing, so overall, just an average, very disappointed. We need to pick it up, and we’ll get back out there Friday. We’ll get this tape cleaned up and get out there Friday and hopefully have a better day.”

On seeing it coming: “Tony (Neely, sports information) was trying to give me an excuse on the way out, told me he hasn’t heard a coach say he’s had a good practice after spring break, but there are no excuses. We have to be mentally tougher. Even if you’re inaccurate at times or your timing’s off or there are things you might expect. There’s no reason to not have great discipline, play with great energy, great passion, be physical and try to give it the best we can, and I don’t think we gave it our best effort.”

On timing of spring practices, whether players have to stay during spring break: “No. It’s not uncharacteristic across the country. I hadn’t done it here before because we needed the time. There are advantages and disadvantages of doing it at different times. Some people go very early; some people go very late. Some people spread it out. What I wanted to do was give us more time in between, have five weeks to get it done. Prior to spring break, we had a day off in between to really watch that film, get it cleaned up, give our players a chance to recuperate and get back out there. So anyway, that’s just the way we’ve done it.”

On if he’ll go two or three days this week: “We’re going to go three because I want to go back-to-back on a Saturday this week. I wanted to get two Saturdays to get kids on campus, use it as an unofficial and give (media) a chance to go out there on a Saturday afternoon and go a little bit later, let it warm up a little bit. We’re trying to go outside and open it up to the media and the public. Without the spring game, I said I wanted to open up practices and I think you all have been in there once; I wanted to continue to do that through spring, give you an opportunity to go see what we’re doing and give the fans an opportunity to go watch us a little bit.”

On if both quarterbacks practiced today: “Yeah.”

On if the inaccuracy was both quarterbacks: “Yeah.”

On how much of that was receivers: “Both. We were inaccurate with the football; receivers were dropping it a little bit. Timing was off; just not very clean.”

On no sense of urgency without an opponent: “Yeah. We had a little talk after practice and we’ll continue to push them. It’s our job as coaches to get them motivated, to get them to work everyday, to be consistent. We’re not there. I always try to be very truthful. I’m not one of those coaches that looks down at my planner and on the planner, it says, ‘Get on them today.’ I’m very, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I tell them good and bad and try to be very truthful with them. Just not good enough.”

On any position changes in the spring: “We look at that all year. Minor things. I can’t think of anything that jumps out at me right now. Jacob Hyde, you might hear a little bit, he’s trying to get in the backfield and use a little bigger guy at fullback every once in a while, short yardage situations and things like that. It’s not a major, a complete change. We may try to fool around with him there and see if he can give us a little punch in there every once in a while.”

On if they have any other options at fullback spot: “We’re working on it. C.J. Conrad, you know, he’s a guy. He plays the ‘H’, tight end position and move him a little bit. He’s been very impressive.”

On Jeff Badet: “Jeff was very inconsistent today. It’s good to get him back out three. He needs to get the rust off; he dropped way too many footballs today, but he’ll get it cleaned up. He’s out there running. We’ve got to get his confidence back. It’s good to have him healthy out there at full speed and he’ll get it cleaned up. He takes a lot of pride in what he does, but he was inconsistent today.”

On rust for both Badet and WR Alex Montgomery: “It showed a little bit today with those guys. We expect those guys to be good players for us and be consistent. They had the opportunity to redshirt last year and that was the good — we wished we had them last year — but the good part is we red-shirted them and they’re back out there now full strength and there’s a little bit of rust on them, but again, I have a lot of confidence that they’ll come back at 100 percent and be more consistent.”

On what players he turns to internally when practices are bad: “Well, I kind of called them out a little bit on that, too, because honestly, we don’t have the leadership we need right now. We need to continue to see who emerges in the leadership role.”

On if players are waiting for a Bud Dupree or Za’Darius Smith to start leading them: “Right. Sure because not only were they confident guys, they had great ability and weren’t afraid to step up. They were also very good football players. They were guys that can maybe turn a practice or make a difference or make that big play and spark some guys. And today, I just felt like it was very flat. We started off with a little emotion, had a good start, we just need to be mentally tougher and have more discipline.”

On the cornerback position: “I don’t know. I really. It’s probably talked about too much. Our football team needs to compete. Every single position, we need to compete. I did have the opportunity to go watch (Kentucky) basketball and it’s impressive to watch them practice and it’s great to see the competition and what Coach Cal does. That’s a well oiled machine. To see those players work exceptionally hard and see the competition that’s out there, that’s what we need to get to, to some level of that. That’s what stood out today.”

On mentioning C.J. Conrad and what he can bring: “He’s just getting started here, he’s had, what, four practices? You just see some very good ability, great size, but you also see that knack, those instincts. He’s not perfect, but he’s going to be a very good football player. And we were talking about that position (fullback) and a guy who’s messing around there, giving us some versatility.”

On Hyde on defensive line: “Jacob is always one of those guys who does care a whole lot, always works hard. I appreciate that about Jacob on both sides. Today was the first day really he practiced offensively there and you could see the advantage of playing him there a little bit and with some more reps. By the time we play our first football game, I think he can help us a little bit there.”

 

 

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Stoops: Football can learn from basketball

Even a football coach can’t help but want to get a glimpse of the nation’s top-ranked, unbeaten basketball team.

And Kentucky’s Mark Stoops admitted that he hopes to see some of the same competitiveness and fight he witnessed in a recent basketball practice from his players on the football practice field.

“It’s impressive to watch them practice, and it’s great to see the competition and what Coach Cal does,” Stoops said Wednesday, after what he called a “very average” return to spring practice for the football team.

He saw Kentucky’s basketball team as “a well-oiled machine.

“To see those players work exceptionally hard and see the competition that’s out there, that’s what we need to get to, to some level of that,” Stoops said.

The football coach, who spent part of his spring break watching the basketball team win the Southeastern Conference championship in Nashville, was displeased after UK football’s practice.

“We haven’t been out there for a few days and it showed,” Stoops said. “Very inaccurate throwing the football; we’re not very clean in catching the ball. Neither side, really. Just an average day. We’ve got a long way to go.”

There was a long discussion after practice Wednesday morning about developing a sense of urgency.

“I always try to be very truthful,” Stoops said. “I’m not one of those coaches that looks down at my planner and on the planner, it says, ‘Get on them today.’ I’m very — I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I tell them good and bad and try to be very truthful with them. Just not good enough.”

Defensively, it was quite evident that players Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith have moved on, Stoops said.

What’s not clear is who will take their place.

“I kind of called (the team) out a little bit on that, too, because honestly, we don’t have the leadership we need right now,” Stoops said. “We need to continue to see who emerges in the leadership role.”

 

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UK’s Heard ‘just getting my life started’

The questions haven’t stopped for Braylon Heard, people wanting to know why the junior running back with fewer than 150 collegiate carries decided to leave Kentucky a season early and put his name in the NFL Draft mix.

“I’m just getting my life started, trying to make some money,” Heard said at Kentucky’s Pro Day on Thursday. “I’ll be 24 next year. As a running back, we don’t have too many years.”

UK Coach Mark Stoops said he is hopeful that Heard will get a look from the professional ranks.

I think Braylon is going to have a bright future, I really do,” Stoops said. “I hated to see Braylon go, but I certainly understood that. It was really personal reasons for him. He’s been through a lot. … I’ve known Braylon for a long time and his family, and just wish him the best.”

In his one season at UK, Heard rushed for 368 yards and four touchdowns, two coming in the first game of the season.

Heard, who has hired an agent, is realistic about his pro opportunities, saying he isn’t necessarily expecting to get drafted, but he’s hopeful to get picked up as a free agent.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback, just keep doing what I’m doing, just keep working,” he said. “I’m praying for the best and looking forward to it.”

The Nebraska transfer, who is set to graduate in May with a community and leadership development degree, has other plans if his NFL dreams don’t work out.

“I’d love to work with a lot of nonprofit organizations that work with the homeless,” he said. “Eventually get my own organization started.”

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Football facility to get another big donation

Kentucky football’s new practice facility is getting another big bump financially, pending approval of the university’s Board of Trustees next week.

A line item on the board’s agenda for the meeting on Monday is a $500,000 gift from long-time athletics supporters Wendell and Vickie Bell.

The gift is stipulated to go toward the $45 million practice facility that broke ground this winter and is expected to be finished in 2016.

The Bells have long supported UK athletics, including gifts for soccer, basketball, volleyball and rifle teams. The new UK soccer complex also bears their names.

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A Q&A with Bud Dupree on Pro Day

BUD DUPREE
On how it felt out there today: “It felt good. Being with my brothers and teammates, it’s always different when you’re with people you actually played with. Different vibe out there than the Combine was. It was real exciting to see other people do good, too. I loved it.”

On doing more drills than at NFL Combine: “I think it’s important for me to showcase my ability to change direction and drop into space because I was facing a groin injury and to let people know I overcame it and it’s healing on its own, that I can flip and change direction was a plus.”

On his combine numbers and the buzz: “It’s always great to see hard work pay off. Coach (Korem) and the High Performance program has really I think changed the game in the last two years, starting with Avery (Williamson) and those guys. Then coming this year with me and Z and those guys who are going at Pro Day. It’s just a blessing to be able to see all your hard work pay off.”

On why he wanted to train here: “I was facing an injury and I also wanted to graduate. I graduate in May, so I wanted to stay here and graduate and plus, Coach K and Coach (Edmond) know my body better than anybody else would. So I know it’s always a plus to stay here.”

On watching previous Pro Days at UK: “It came real fast, from my freshman year to senior year, Danny (Trevathan) and those guys out here. I think the crowd scene changed a lot, too. More guys coming in and seeing that Kentucky has talent. Started with those guys and we just keep laying the foundation and hopefully each year it’ll get bigger.”

On feedback from scouts: “I know first round, I really don’t know about projections yet. Whoever takes me, takes me. I make sure I prove them right and do everything I need to do to help their team win a championship.”

On if he’s had any meetings with teams: “My agent has my schedule right now. I know I have a lot of meetings and a lot of visits, so hopefully I’ll get that on the road next week during spring break.”

On any teams specifically: “Chargers, there’s 49ers, Bengals, Colts. I don’t remember. There are a lot.”

On how being a “tweener” is good for him: “For me it’s different I think. I think I separate myself from the other tweeners in the class because I’ve played inside backer and none of those guys have played inside backer, being that I played with my hand in the ground and standing up for four years, so I know that I’ve got the game, more experience in those positions and those situations than any other guys have, so I just see myself separating on that level, plus I’m heavy.”

On being called a freak: “Being classified a freak, it’s just a God given talent. I feel like I grew up that way and I had the right coaching staff to push and help me get to another level. And it’s showing now.”

On explosiveness, nearly running over an NFL coach during drills: “Aw, yeah. (laughter) I know he got a workout today trying to come off against me.”

On if he was caught off guard: “Yeah, he didn’t throw his hands. I got there too quick. By that time, I just tried to go power around him.”

On starting as a tight end, developing into first round NFL Draft defensive player: “Playing offense, I thought I was going to be a showtime guy, scoring touchdowns. But defense, other side of the ball, we don’t get as much fame, in the long run it paid off. I think God had a plan for me the whole time and people were telling me defense is better than offense for me, just by how my body type was. At first, I didn’t believe them, but now I see everything and I’m glad I trusted those people like Coach Joker (Phillips).”

On helping the underclassmen still: “First of all, you’ve got to install confidence in people. Once people have confidence, it’s hard to take away a confident in a person. If you’re confident and you have the tools, you’ll be very hard to stop. Confidence is key and believing in yourself and going out and working hard, not trying to take the easy way out.”

On UK defense without Dupree and Smith: “I think Coach Stoops has a great plan to replace me and Z. The sky’s the limit for this program. Coach Stoops does a great job. He’s got the right staff in place. Coach Marrow a great recruiter and those schemes they’re bringing in are only going to strengthen the program. Each year, I think this Pro Day will grow. Next year you might see more people than this.”

On taking classes still: “I graduate May 9. It’s kind of hard doing this and football, but at the end of the day it’s worth it. I just wanna see my mama happy.”

On spring break plans: “Spring break is next week, but I don’t got spring break.”

On if he’d had four years of High Performance training and Stoops: “If I had four years of those guys, no telling how this program would be. Not knocking the last coaching staff; Coach Joker and that staff was great. But Coach Stoops came in and took it to another level. High Performance just started coming around. So I imagine four years from now, I would probably be five times as explosive. No telling what would’ve happened.”

On saving money to train, staying in Lexington with Korem: “It saved my agent’s pocket a lot of money by staying here. Just and I felt like there’s really no need to go to another facility because we do the same training here that we do at another facility. Seeing the guys at the combine, if that the case, I probably wouldn’t have done as good. If it was better to go somewhere else, they would’ve (done) better than me at the combine. It’s just all about your effort, it’s how you push yourself forward. If you want to go out and do the hard work, it’s all in you.”

On if any of his combine numbers surprised him: “Well on the vertical, I got a 43 one time, so it was kinda iffy and then the 40, I’ve ran a 4.4 before, so I was mad about my 40, but it was electronic time, and electronic time different because they go for your hip, so that’s different. With the broad jump, the broad jump was the only thing that surprised me because I usually get around 11’2, 11’3, but my first one I jumped a 12’ and then stick it. So when I did that, I was like, ‘Ah, man.’ Then I jumped whatever it was, so it was crazy.”

On what’s next for Dupree: “I think now all the jitterbugs are gone. I feel like I got the hard parts out of the way, now just being myself, who I am and continuing to work hard in the weight room and on the field, continuing work with Coach K and just take this process in the best way I can and make sure I embrace it.”

On plans for draft day: “I haven’t decided if I’m gonna be in Chicago or at home.”

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Q&A with Mark Stoops at Pro Day

MARK STOOPS
On more scouts at Pro Day: “It is. Today’s a little bit more like some of the old days. I was at Miami, Florida State, you start getting some head coaches in here and GM’s. Things like that. It’s good to see a good crowd here.”

On current players being here: “I think it’s very important, that’s what you want to see. Once again, you’ve heard me talk about this before these guys did things right on the field and off the field and that’s why they’re in the position that they’re in. It’s great for our young players to see that. “

On other players getting noticed: “I think they’re here to see several of our guys. Even the guys that don’t get talked about much, they’re definitely going to have a great chance to make it in the NFL and play and quite a few of these guys are going to make teams and have great futures.”

On Braylon Heard’s future: “I think Braylon is going to have a bright future, I really do. I think, as I’ve talked about before I hated to see Braylon go but I certainly understood that it. It was really personal reasons for him. He’s been through a lot. He’s graduated and done well. I’ve known Braylon for a long time and his family and just wish him the best. “

On talking to head coaches (Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis): “It’s good to see the head coaches here and good to spend some time with them. Got an opportunity to visit with them over at our complex earlier and show them around a little bit. It’s been fun to have them here.”

On the importance of having head coaches here: “I think it’s important. I think it shows the interest that they have in some of our prospects and the exposure never hurts.”

On if he’s surprised by any of his guy’s numbers: “I really haven’t even looked at it too much. I’ve been socializing here a little bit and watching them. I’ll get the numbers later.”

On the guys sticking around and training with Erik Korem: “I definitely think that’s a very big compliment to what we’re doing here. The norm for other high draft picks, the norm is for everybody to leave campus and go somewhere and train. There are a few facilities I’m thinking of off the top of my head. People go to Arizona, guys are going to Florida. Several other places, Atlanta is a big stop. People are going around the country and training with some of these guys and our guys have stayed here. It started with Avery (Williamson). Avery staying and working with Coach Korem and Coach Edmond, and seeing the results that Avery did, it opened the eyes of our other guys. They can save a lot of money and get better training and stay right here and be with our guys. I know they’re very excited about it and proud of the work that they’ve done.”

On Dupree staying for his senior year: “I was glad that I didn’t have to convince him to stay. We sat and have a conversation and to be honest with you I was pleasantly surprised at how that went. He really had in his mind that he wanted to come back. Because, I would certainly present him the pros and the cons. That’s a tough decision to be in sometimes as a head coach. I would certainly give him my honest assessment. I’ve seen that work against somebody before, too, where they’ve come back and gotten injured and things like that. It’s a tough call.”

“Certainly there’s times when players it’s in their best interest to take off. Just look at our basketball players. We’ve had them before, I’ve had them before in football. I remember being at Miami and having Sean Taylor and he was a true junior. He had only been in college five semesters and I said ‘It’s time for you to go,’ and he did. He left and was a top 10 pick and was going to have a great career.

On what Dupree can bring to NFL teams: “Bud brings an awful lot of value to a team. The biggest thing is he’s a great person. He’s a great team player. Everybody, no matter what organization you’re in, you need good people, guys that are good in the locker room and that are competitive and that want to win. He’s a winner and he’s a great guy and a great leader. He’s extremely versatile. You’ve heard me talk about it over and over again but he is. He’s a guy that brings great value because for us he could have played Sam, Mike, Will or Jack. Or if we were in four down he could have played either end. That’s the truth and he could play at an SEC level, at an all-SEC level. When you can play in the SEC and play at a high level at all those positions then I think there’s definitely a great spot for you in the NFL. I think that’s just it, seeing what team wants to go on him as high as they do but I’m sure he’s not going to last long.”

On high performance impacting the current players: “I think it’s very important. I think our players understand what we’re doing. They may not always love all the little nuances and all the details that we do. We’re constantly pulling at them and checking them working on them whether we’re in the weight room or off, we do a lot of things that pull at their time sometimes. I think they realize it’s for a good cause and no better way to prove it than watching these guys work out on Pro Day.”

On relationship with Clint Hurtt: “I’ve known Clint for a long time. We worked together at Miami. Clint was a GA when I was a secondary coach at Miami, so I’ve known Clint for a long time. Good coach and a good guy. So I’m glad he’s not in Louisville, no Clint is a good guy, good coach. “

On his spring break plans: “I’m going to go watch our basketball team play a couple games and I’m going to be here and enjoy a little time off and do a little work.”

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