Morning session with Stoops

IS STOOPS NERVOUS ABOUT SEC MEDIA DAYS DEBUT? “Just a little anxious, yeah, sure. It’s my first time going through this. … I’ll pretty much stick to the facts, talk about our program and what we’re doing.”

HOW HAS SUMMER GONE? “Summer’s going good. Our strength coaches tell us the players have been on point; they’ve been working extremely hard and really doing a good job. I’m happy. We brought three great leaders with us today and they’re doing a great job.”

STATUS OF DONTE RUMPH’S SHOULDER: “Donte should be fine. Donte is here and he can talk to you a little bit. I was told he put up some good weight the other day, was lifting and is coming around well. Donte is good, you might just have to mess with him a little bit. His tie is a little bit short.”

FIRST THING HE WANTS TO SEE THIS FALL: “Just the work ethic, the accountability. Nothing is going to get done until we’re all accountable to each other to go about things the right way, to do our business. It’s about the process. I’ve talked about that over and over again. We talk about phases and we’re in the summer phase right now. We’re preparing for camp. I think having that great work ethic, that great understanding of what it takes to be successful and being consistent with that.”

STATUS OF MARCUS MCWILSON, JAVESS BLUE: “We’re working on that. We’re working through some eligibility. We’ll let you know at the beginning of summer, of camp.”

DISMISSALS HAVE HAPPENED. ARE PLAYERS GETTING MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT? “Yeah, I think most of them understand that. Now, they have to have the discipline to stay within the structure that we expect within our program. Yeah, we’ve had to let some kids go that have not lived by the standards that we set.”

UPDATES ON ASHELY LOWERY’S LEGAL SITUATION (CHARGED WITH DUI)? “There’s no status yet on the legal situation, I need to gather some more information and let that process work its way out a little bit.”

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOWERY’S SITUATION AND THE THOMAS BROTHERS’? “There have been some other incidents. With us, we have a guideline and some policies and there are some strikes involved.”

HUGH FREEZE HELPED TURN AROUND OLE MISS, TALKED ABOUT CORE ISSUES. WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP?  “A lot of coaches talk about being accountable to each other and doing things the right way. You can’t win consistently, let alone in the SEC, without having that strong foundation of doing things right.”

CONCERNS WITH DEPTH? “It’s fair to say we don’t have as much depth as we’d like, and that’s our job as coaches to continue to develop that. We’ll have more bodies come Aug. 4, so it will be good to work with those players that we didn’t have in the spring. We’ll have some of those guys to help us build some depth.”

LEADERSHIP QUALITIES FROM RUMPH AND OTHER SENIORS: “They’re mature, they’ve been through it. If you’d ask all three guys who are here, they’re tired of losing. They want to be put in a position to be successful and that’s what I love about this team. I know we’ve had to make some changes and dismiss some players and we’ll continue to work on our character as a football program, but I’m very excited about them. They want to be led in the right way. They’re working extremely hard and they have a positive attitude. That, I’m very encouraged by.”

TRANSITION BEEN DIFFICULT FOR SENIORS? “I don’t think so. You can ask those guys. I don’t feel that it has. I feel that they’ve embraced this changed and they’ve embraced the process. They want to led in the right way, they want to be put in a position to be successful and they want to have successful people around them.”

RASHAD CUNNINGHAM COMING AROUND AFTER BIG SPRING GAME? “I certainly hope so. Hopefully. We need him to, to be successful.”

HOW MANY TRUE FRESHMEN DO YOU EXPECT TO PLAY THIS YEAR? “That’s a really tough question to answer. From the recruiting process and from the things you hear in the summer, we feel like we have a pretty good nucleus, a very good group with the right attitude. We will see. That’s a hard question to answer. Sometimes you may count on a certain person or think he’ll come in and contribute and he’s just not ready.”

WOULD YOU RATHER RED-SHIRT MOST OF THOSE KIDS? “I think everybody would. I think in a perfect world, in this league with a bunch of grown men, it would be good to have your team mature a little bit. But with that being said, some guys are ready to go and we will never put limitations on that. If you can come in and help our program, we want you to do that.”

WHAT ABOUT TIGHT ENDS? “We have a good group of tight ends. We need to be creative and we need to be multiple with our formations and I think Coach Brown did a nice job of that in spring. He’s continuing to look at ways to move the football. If there are guys who can contribute at tight end or fullback, wherever that may be, then that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

WHAT DOES HE THINK OF YAHTZEE TWITTER SENSATION? “I don’t know what you’re talking about (laughs).”

TRANSFERS? “Braylon Heard is here and working out and will be on scholarship. Braylon will not be able to play this year but we’re excited about having Braylon in the program. That’s the only transfer we’ve put on scholarship.”

TIMETABLE ON QUARTERBACK SITUATION? “We will make that decision when it’s clear. I think if you ask most of these coaches who have been around longer than me, it probably helps if you have your quarterback in place for the leadership role and your team working with the starting quarterback all summer. But why rush that situation if it’s not clear cut? That’s not fair to anybody. We want to make sure we make the right decision and we will make that decision when it’s clear cut. If it takes one day, it takes one day. If it takes a week, a couple weeks, or into the season. So I think those players have earned that right.”

WHAT IS STOOPS HEARING ABOUT THEIR LEADERSHIP THIS SUMMER? ” Those are questions for the players because I’m not really allowed to be around them much, so they’re around a lot more in the summer. But I am hearing good things and I know they all have good leadership qualities and they’re good people.”

WILL IT BE NCIE TO GET BACK AROUND PLAYERS AGAIN IN FALL CAMP? “Yes, absolutely. It’s hard being away from the players for this long, but I know they’re in good hands with our strength and conditioning team.”

ARE PLAYERS BODIES DEVELOPING WAY YOU’D HOPED? “I hope so, I believe so. From what our strength and conditioning people are telling me, there’s been a lot of progress made. You can direct some of those questions to the players who are here. We’re excited about the work that has been done.”

DEPTH AT SAFETY A CONCERN? “Yeah, we’re not very deep at safety right now. We’re not very deep in the secondary. We need to continue to develop some depth 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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