Mark Stoops talks recruiting, QBs

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops was on the SEC Teleconference this afternoon. Here’s what he had to say:

ON HIS FIRST SPRING AT UK: “I was encouraged with the first spring. I felt like things went well. I was impressed with our players, felt like they had a great attitude and were there embracing the process. So I was really happy with their attitude and the way they were going about their business. Encouraged with the spring game and our fans. This fan base is awfully hungry to help us be successful. That was evident with their support of the spring game. So overall, I’m pleased with the way things are going.”

ON TIGHT ENDS COACH VINCE MARROW AND HIS ROLE IN OHIO: “I’ve got him just in Ohio right now. And what makes him a great recruiter is his ability to make everybody feel comfortable. He’s very good at just building relationships. He works at it extremely hard and he has a lot of ties to Ohio. He’s lived in three or four different parts of Ohio. He grew up in Ohio and went to the same high school that I did, so Vince knows me very well. He knows how we want to go about hour business in recruiting, so I think just his work ethic and his ability to build some relationships are some of the best qualities he has.”

IS GEORGIA AN AREA YOU PLAN TO RECRUIT, MAKE PART OF YOUR BASE? “Absolutely. Yes. We are currently recruiting Georgia, yes.”

AFTER EVALUATING TAPE, WAS THERE ANY SEPARATION IN THAT QUARTERBACK BATTLE? “It’s very fair to say Jalen (Whitlow) had the best spring game and did some awfully good things, so I think, yeah. I’ve got to say Jalen had the best spring game and did some awfully good things. With that being said, it’s still an open competition there.”

AFTER HAVING A SPRING TO EVALUATE ROSTER, WHERE DO YOU MOST NEED FRESHMEN OR JUNIOR COLLEGE TRANSFERS TO FILL ROLES? “Obviously, we need help at every position. We need to improve across the board, but what stands out to me right now is the skill positions, both on offense and on defense. We need to get a lot better in the secondary and we need to get better at wide receiver.”

SPRINGS FOR RUNNING BACKS DYSHAWN MOBLEY AND JOSH CLEMONS? “Dyshawn, he was a good back. He really did some good things. I was impressed. I feel like he’s a physical guy, up about 215 pounds. He’s a real physical punch and he’s also got some good speed, so I was impressed with him. … Josh is again a pleasant surprise I think, you know, coming off a knee injury I really was impressed with him. He also had a good spring game. We did not practice him back to back. If we did have a back-to-back practice, we just practiced him one or the other, try to let that knee heal up a bit in between practices. Again, a big physical guy who’s got some good vision. I was happy with Josh.”

WHAT ABOUT JUSTIN TAYLOR? “He’s got a lot of work to do. We’ll see.”

NFL DRAFT STARTS TOMORROW. WHAT ARE HIS PLANS FOR IT, WILL HE BE THERE FOR FORMER FLORIDA STATE PLAYERS? DOES THAT HELP HIM RECRUIT AT UK? “I am going to be there for the draft and supporting those players. A couple of them asked me to come up and be with them. I wanted to be there to support them and their family. I don’t know if it’s a selling point or not, but I’m really doing it because of my relationship with these guys. I’ve been with them for the past three years and really think the world of them and want nothing but success for them. So that’s the reason I’ll be at the draft.”

SURPRISED BY HOW WELL 2014 RECRUITING HAS GONE? “I’ve been very encouraged with recruiting since I’ve been to Kentucky. I feel like we’re getting a good reception. I feel like the coaches are working extremely hard. And the coaches have the ability to get in there and build some relationships and earn some trust from some of these recruits. So overall, I’ve been very pleased with 2013 and the start of 2014, yes.”

IS THERE A PARTICULAR POSITION OR POSITIONS HE’S FOCUSING ON IN 2014 CLASS: “We really need a lot of help in every area. So I feel like we need help across the board, but we need to continue – it’s hard to say, because we need help everywhere, but we certainly need some help in the skill positions like I mentioned. I think really at defensive back and wide receiver, we really need to upgrade there.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
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