Quick hits from Friday’s practice

Quick hits from Friday practice, which Coach Mark Stoops said Kentucky is treating like a game-week Tuesday, working first team offense and defense against the scout team and then against one another …

  • Defensive end Za’Darius Smith, who has been out with a high ankle sprain since Aug. 8, returned to practice on Friday. Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot both said the junior college transfer won’t be far behind his teammates. It helps that he’s already played in this system under defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. Smith should be ready to go for the Western Kentucky game next Saturday. “He won’t be far behind,” Stoops said. “No, he won’t. We’ll get him caught up. He’ll be fine.”
    For his part, Smith said he was feeling good. “Just got out of the training room, man. I’m 100 percent to be back.”
    Smith said it was frustrating to miss so much of camp but he tried to stay in tune with extra film and weight room sessions.
  • When Stoops was asked about ankle injury of Cody Quinn, he implied that injury updates would be a thing of the past now that UK’s in game planning mode. “I don’t want to discuss it any further,” he said when asked about the cornerback’s progress. “I’ve been very lenient with you guys (grinning), so don’t push it. It’s getting time to start preparing for games.”

Departures, scholarships: Defensive tackle Patrick Graffree confirmed via Twitter on Friday morning that he will continue his playing career at Eastern Kentucky University. Stoops said the red-shirt freshman’s transfer surprised him a little.

“We had a talk with a lot of guys when we got through camp (about) where we were at,” Stoops said. “So he may not have been happy with that. I understand that. I don’t want to get into detail on that, but I do wish him the best.”

Does Stoops expect there to be other transfers after similar camp conversations? “Possibly, possibly” he said.

  • Rashad Cunningham, one of just four returning wide receivers for UK, will not be eligible to play this season, but he will continue to practice.
  • Walk-on center Max Godby, who is running with the first team, was awarded a scholarship for the season.

Some starters trickle out: Barring any last-minute surges, senior kicker Joe Mansour likely is the starting kicker. Punt returns will be handled by Demarco Robinson. Stoops said freshman Ryan Timmons had a couple of miscues and Robinson has been steady.

Special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto said kickoff returners in order: Robinson, Javess Blue, Ryan Timmons and Jeff Badet.

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 jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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