Coordinators Brown, Eliot after spring scrimmage

D.J. ELIOT

ON SCRIMMAGE SET UP: “We did a situational before we did a team period. We did a third-down period before we did a team period and that’s situational. Then after that, it was just move the football in the scrimmage.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE, GOOD, BAD? “I think it was about average right now. We’ve got a ways to go, so trying to get some new guys out there, trying to get them in the right spots and build off that.”

ON HARMON’S RETURN: “I’m glad to have him back in the mix. He’s a big body that can run pretty good. It’s important for him to refous and continue to do the right things and excel on and off the field.”

ANY PLAYMAKERS? “Not really. Some guys did some good things and some guys did some bad things. Bud, we repped him in some situational stuff and then we got into that team period and we got some other guys some reps. He usually does a good job, though, and leads the team.”

ON MEANT AND DOUGLAS: “By the end of the year last year, Douglas was playing really well and so he’s built off that and he’s starting to take on some leadership roles and he’s got a chance to be a good player.”

ON DUPREE’S HAND IN DIRT, STANDING UP, ETC: “I think it’s going to be about the same as it was last year with his hand down, his hand up and he has done a good job. We’re going to try to use him the best we can.”

ON IF DUPREE IS MORE EFFECTIVE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER: “Bud’s athletic enough to stand up and make plays in space, but he’s also physical enough to put his hand down and make plays at the line of scrimmage. He may not like getting as dirty. That might be why he tells you he likes standing up more, but he’s good at both of them.”
ON LINEBACKERS: “Not right now. They’re all about the same right now.  Just need to keep plugging along and see how they develop.”

WORKING AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER SPOT? “We’ve worked, Miles (Simpson) has been working there and Tyler Brause has been working there and Dorian Hendrix has been working there was well.”

ON HOW HENDRIX IS HANDLING THAT: “About as expected. A high school kid should be going to the prom, instead he’s out here playing in the SEC. So he’s doing about as expected and he’s doing some good things.”

ON MIDDLE LINEBACKER SPOT: “In today’s day and age, you’ve got to be able to basically do both (styles). You’re going to play spread teams, pro teams. You’ve got to have a guys that can do both of those things, all three of those things.”

 

NEAL BROWN

“We did some good things today. We’re significantly better than we were last year. We’ve got a ways to go for sure but we are better, just a better overall understanding of the schematics. We’re a lot better physically — I’m struggling with that word — we’re a lot better physically than we were last year. Still making some mistakes because you’ve got some young guys. Scrimmage went pretty well. There’s some give and take, which is good. You know, defense got us a little bit. We just scrimmaged at the end, had a normal practice and then scrimmaged at the end. Defensive got us a few times. We had two touchdown passes. Ryan Timmons took a short pass and took it to the house, which was good to see. This spring, he’s making the turn. I think he can be a really good player in this league. He’s starting to make that turn. And then A.J. Legree has stepped his game up and we need him to. We really need him to. He had a touchdown pass toward the end there.”

DID LEGREE START MAKING CATCHES: “He’s had some trouble with some drops, certainly some big drops in games last year. We’ve moved him inside. We’re playing him at inside receiver and I think that’s a better fit for him. Feels more comfortable in there and he’s been productive. He’s a bigger body that can help us bock in there. He’s doing better, he’s got more confidence. That’s always been the issue with him.”

ON QUARTERBACK PLAY TODAY: “I’m going to give you the answer you don’t want to hear, but I want to watch on video.”

SO WE CAN CALL YOU IN A COUPLE HOURS? “Yeah, you can call me in a couple hours, just go through Tony, though. Here’s what I was pleased with today and this is not counting the scrimmage because it’s hard when I’m on the sidelines during scrimmages to see. But we didn’t have a very good day yesterday. Practice four was the worst day the quarterbacks have had. Really threw the ball accurately and made good decisions the first three practices, struggled yesterday and really let adversity get to them, all of them. But they bounced back today. Thought we kind of picked back up where we were at practice three, so I was pleased with that.”

ON YOUNGER GUYS PICKING THINGS UP: “Yeah, they are. There’s definitely a learning curve for T.V. and Mickel and Drew and Thaddeus, there’s definitely a learning curve. Especially (practice) one and two were playing flag football in no pads and then suddenly practice three instensity picks up and they’re like, ‘Woah. It wasn’t like this at Conner and wherever.’ So they’ve kind of gotten used to it now. It’s a lot and Thaddeus started playing faster today. He’s been a little bit overwhelmed, but he played faster today. Those guys all have talent, so that’s the important thing. We want them to leave the spring with confidence.”

ON OFFENSIVE LINE: “I thought we did pretty good. Obviously we had trouble with Bud, but I think most people we play are going to have trouble with him in one-on-one pass pro(tection). But we’re better. Darrian Miller’s put on a good 15 pounds or so, I think. He’s had a real solid spring. Jordan Swindle, I’m really excited about, not only his playing but his leadership. Zach West has improved. He needed to make that. Nick Haynes is behind him really pushing him. Ramsey Meyers is running with the ones right now and he’s showed some toughness. He had to get a tooth pulled, then came out and practiced today. I like his physicality. Jon Toth is probably the most improved player we’ve got on offense. He’s 20 pounds heavier and is playing much, much better than he ever did last year.”

ON PASS PROTECTION AND RUNNING BACKS WORKING ON THAT: “They’re good and that’s a thing. We don’t put a whole lot in our running backs in the protection game as far as memorization and those things. But they do make the O-line right a lot. They’re doing it. Mikel (Horton) is a ways to go, it’s not going to happen overnight, but he’s got the courage to do the pass protection. That’s the No. 1 thing. The older guys: Jojo’s (Kemp) got a much better understanding. Braylon knows what to do, he just needs live reps at it.”

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Stoops discusses situational scrimmage

MARK STOOPS

“Got some good work in today, it was good. We did about three-fourths of a practice and then we did some scrimmaging at the end, so it was good. Good work, some good physical work at the beginning of practice and throughout the scrimmage, so I was pleased. Just like you’d expect, we did some good things and some not so good things. For me, it’s always a balancing act. If one team’s scoring, I’m not so pleased with the other side, so, overall, we’re definitely better. We’re doing some routine things. If guys are open, we’re hitting them and catching it, just basic things we need to do to move forward. I’m pleased with that. I had a couple good plays, good touchdown passes today, so that was good to see. So overall it was good work. We need to continue to improve a whole bunch, but overall, we’re moving forward.”

ON SOME GOOD THINGS: “I just, just basic things, running the offense were better. I thought we ran the ball effectively at times and just throwing and catching it better. We’re still miles from where we need to be, but at least we’re making routine plays now. When guys are open, we’re seeing them and getting the ball to them and things like that. One throw and catch Ryan Timmons made a nice play where it was a short, 10-yard slant, he took it the distance. One where we didn’t have such good coverage at the end: We had a guy open and Drew (Barker) hit him down the middle for a touchdown to wrap it up. All the quarterbacks made some good throws at times so we’ll watch the film and see where that’s at. We’re better at receiver, obviously.”

ON TIGHT END SPOT? “We need some depth, obviously. We need some depth. We’ve got Bordon and Ronnie Shields right now working there and we need to continue to bring some guys along.”

ON STANDOUTS DEFENSIVELY: “I’ll have to watch the film. Nothing really jumped out at me, honestly. We were stout at times, but when we got out of position, we gave up some runs. At least if we’re out of position, I’m glad to see the offense exploit us a little bit. Overall, we were decent, decent up front at times. I’ll watch the film and see, but nothing really jumped out at me.”

ON GAME PACE? “Not quite yet. But improved. Definitely better than we’ve been.”

ON MAIN THING HE LOOKS FOR IN THOSE FIRST SCRIMMAGE: “As I told the team, let’s not lose sight of just winning this drill. We want to go compete in the SEC. So I want excitement, I want enthusiasm, I want all of those things and that’s why you have to do the scrimmaging and move the ball around and let them play because sometimes you have a tendency to just lose your technique at times and lose your eye discipline and things like that. That’s where we have to watch the tape and see where we’re growing and where we’re not because guys that have played a lot of football for us in the past, I’d expect them to be further along than some of the new guys.”

ON RUNNING BACKS STANDING OUT? “We were a little dinged up. Braylon didn’t go today. It’s nothing major. He woke up and had a little something going on with his neck, didn’t want to put him out in that situation, so we’re a little thin today at running back. But it was good to see Mikel play a good amount of snaps. He did a good job.”

ON IF JOJO KEMP PRACTICED: “No. No he didn’t. We were a little thin there.”

ON RAMSEY MEYERS: “He’s doing a good job. It will be interesting to see how the film grades out for him, but he is doing a good job, he really is. He’s got a ways to go, he’s a freshman, but we’re excited about him and his future.”

ON MIKE DOUGLAS: “You know, he’s just a good, solid player. He’s doing a good job doing what he’s supposed to do, really doing what he’s supposed to do, giving good effort fundamentally.”

ON DOUGLAS’ RUN STOPPING: “He’s a little light. He’s a little light. But he plays with good effort and even better technique.”

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Stoops after Friday’s practice

Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was not available today. But we did get some time with Mark Stoops. Here’s what he had to say:

MARK STOOPS
“Good practice, good practice. Was really good work. We’re more efficient, more efficient on both sides of the ball. You could see us opening up some good holes at times, that’s good for the offense, bad for the defense, but I thought you could see us a little more physical up there at times. We’re executing the passing game better. The quarterback situation is still murky because all of them are doing some good things at times. And of course, here and there making a few bad decisions. Overall we’re improving. We’re a better football team right now. And it’s like I told them: We’re a lot better. We’re miles ahead of where we were and we need to continue to go miles further to be competitive in this league, but I like the pace we’re on right now.”

WHAT IF A QUARTERBACK NEVER EMERGES LIKE LAST SEASON? “Again, just like I said a year ago, just because we’d like that to happen don’t mean I’m going to make a reckless decision. We’ve got to continue to work its way out. We’re in no panic mode. We have time.”
YOUNGER GUYS IN FULL PADS. HAVE THEY ADJUSTED? “Matter of fact, Mikel and TV stood out a little bit today. TV caught the ball in space and made some nice moves and you saw that elusiveness he brings. He’s a little guy, but he’s electric at times. Saw a few plays where he stood out. Mikel, seems like he’s handling his pads better, the physicality of practice, so that was good to see as well.”
IS SECONDARY GETTING BETTER? “Definitely. Yes. I mean it was just, if you go all the way back to last spring it’s really hard to even compare that because we were just trying to get a feel for who these guys were and systematically what we’re doing on both sides of the ball. So we’re miles ahead of where we were last spring and even all through last season I think we’re further ahead. We had a good, long winter and we had a chance to really slow things down, bring the players in, watch film, get with them in the winter a little bit. I just think I can see the strides we made, and again, we have a long way to go. But I just like the direction we’re heading right now.”
ON NATE WILLIS AND FRED TILLER. WHAT ARE THEY DOING WELL? “They’ve got to continue to grow. They’ve got to continue to get stronger and get bigger. They need a good spring here and a good summer as well. But like we’re talking about, another year of experience, another half year going into spring here. They’ve improved and they still need to grow.”
ON BLAKE MCCLAIN AND HIS POSITION: “We’re settled in on him. He’s playing nickel and safety, but that’s still double duty, but that’s what some guys have to do. So it depends on the team. That nickel spot for us is an important spot. It’s a tough position to play and match up with inside slot wide receivers if you’re playing some man and doing some different things. He’s a very good blitzer as well. So he’s good at that position, but he’s also good at safety. So he’s in a dual role right now and we’ll continue to work with him at both of those spots. For the most part, we got him out, we moved him out of the corner business for the most part. So he’s really just settled in on three positions, so that’s good.”
ON REGIE MEANT: “He’s very physical, a big guy, not only in weight, but he’s got some height to him. So he’s what we’re looking for. He is a freshman, but we love his mentality and his athletic ability. He’s short on experience right now and you can see him struggling with that at times, but I think he’s a guy you like to bring along and grow with because he’s what you want both physically and mentally.”
DOES IT HELP HAVING VETERANS AROUND MEANT? “Definitely, yeah. Definitely does. As you know, we need a lot more depth. We need more guys to compete at the level we want to compete at, we need a bunch of guys in there. So we need to continue to develop all those D-linemen.”
ON TIM MASTHAY WORKING WITH LANDON FOSTER: “I saw him punting after practice and I saw him booming the heck out of the ball, but I don’t know whether he’s working with him on the side or not. I don’t even know if that’s legal, so I don’t want to talk about that. So they’re friends and they’re just working out. I know he’s booming the heck out of the ball and he’s got a great work ethic.”
DID JOJO KEMP PRACTICE TODAY? “He’s not bad, but he’s tweaked up enough. I think he’s going to go tomorrow.”
ANY CONNECTION TO KEMP’S OFFSEASON SURGERY? “No.”
ON JALEN WHITLOW INJURY: “Jalen’s been able to go. He had a tweaked hamstring, but he’s been able to go. He’s been fine the last couple of days.”
ON A.J. STAMPS: “I really like what he’s doing. A little bit inexperienced at what we’re asking him to do, but again, I really like what he brings physically and mentally. I think it’s real important to us. It’s great that he’s here midyear, able to go through spring and summer, but athletically I really like what he does. It’s just a matter of getting him some more experience here.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR STAMPS? “He’s played both corner and safety. He played a lot of corner last year, but we’re playing him at safety, but he brings us that athletic safety we need for covering guys. There’s no way around it. The old days of just a big, physical safety are gone. You’ve got to be able to do a lot of things and he’s very versatile in that way.”
WITH NEW COACH AT SAFETY, ARE YOU ASKING THOSE GUYS TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? “No. He’s within our system, what we’re doing systematically, so no. There’s nothing there. He just brings us some good cover ability.”

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From practice to prom for QB Barker

Drew Barker went from his Kentucky uniform to a tuxedo last week.

Just a few hours after one of his first practices as a UK quarterback, the freshman left to go to his high school prom at Conner.

“It was pretty cool,” he said after practice on Wednesday. “It was fun, good to see everybody again, really cool.”

Barker, one of a handful of players who opted to miss their final semester of high school so they could participate in spring practice, said it was a “great decision to come early.”

He got a little ribbing some from teammates about going to a high school prom now that he’s a college kid, but coaches didn’t want the freshmen to miss some milestones.

This weekend, it’s running back Mikel Horton going back to his prom.

Almost all of them are going to walk for their high school graduations as well.

“The coaches say it’s important to go back for stuff like that,” Barker said.

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Stoops, Brown discuss first day in pads

MARK STOOPS

“Good workout today. I thought it was good to get out there today. First day with pads on, you all were out there for the first hour, you could see it got a little chippy at times, need to clean that up. I think everybody was all anxious to get out here and show off their muscles from the off-season lifting and conditioning and all that. But overall, pretty good day. We’re making some strides in certain areas, obviously we’re a work in progress in others.”

ON QUARTERBACKS: “We’ve improved, that’s the good news. We have improved, starting with Jalen. Obviously, Max is not out there. Jalen has improved, but I am encouraged with Patrick, Reese and Drew. I think they’re doing some good things.”

ON WHITLOW’S IMPROVEMENT: “Just like we would expect that he would do some work in the off-season. It’s obvious we’re better at the wide receiver position and we need to continue to improve. But the guys that played last year, a lot of the young guys, are getting better and that helps the quarterbacks.”

ON BARKER LOOKING TO ASK QUESTIONS, GET THINGS RIGHT: “That’s something we liked all along with Drew: He’s mature and going about his work the right way. He spends  a lot of time studying and all of these guys are in it together and they’ve been helping each other.”

HOW REPS ARE BEING DIVVIED UP BETWEEN QUARTERBACKS: “We’ve been rotating them again like we did last year. Again, you guys have heard me talk about it. I don’t want to go through all spring and all through camp and summer without having a clear-cut starter or at least having it narrowed down. We’re not at that point after three practices. I think we’re moving in that direction, so we’ll see where it goes. Right now we’re rotating them.”

DEADLINE FOR PICKING ONE? “As early as possible. So I don’t know when that is, so. Again, you’ve heard me talk about it, but it’s true. If it was today, if somebody just grabs it and is just a clear-cut leader and winner of that job, then we’ll start giving the reps there. I’d prefer it sooner than later.”

ON WHAT GRABBING SPOT WOULD LOOK LIKE: “Well, just being in full command of that offense, just executing the offense, can make the throws when we want to and not be careless with the football. All of them do good things at times, we just need somebody to do something right all the time.”

ON WHAT TOWLES AND PHILLIPS GOT OUT OF RED-SHIRT SEASONS: “I think it helped them, again, it’s no mystery there were times when I thought about taking the red shirt off of both of them. In hindsight, I’m glad we got them the redshirt. I think it helped them mature. Patrick is definitely improved. He’s much quicker with his release and he’s throwing the ball very well and I’ve been encouraged.”

ON RETURN OF JOSH CLEMONS: “He really looks good. He does. He almost looks more comfortable right now than he did before his last injury. It’s good to see him out there. We’re trying to be very smart with him and get him through this spring.”

DOES THAT MEAN FEWER REPS OR DAYS OFF? “Yeah. We’ve got good backs. We’re rotating all those guys, just trying to be smart with him as far as reps are concerned.”

ON MIKEL HORTON: “I loved him without the pads on and his strength should be with the pads on and today he was out there running a little bit high. He got the ball knocked out of his hands once. He needs to toughen up and he’ll get that through camp. We need to see him in there with some good, physical runs.”

ON IF HE LIKES TO SEE THE BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE LINES: “I do, to a certain extent. We can’t have it interfering with practice all the time and getting very sloppy. I think it was the first day with pads on, you have a tendency to do that. It was actually the first drill we’ve had all spring, so y’all were in there and saw that. Again, I think they were proud of the work that they’ve done in the offseason. They feel like they’ve got some muscles on them now, so they want to throw it around a little bit, so we’ll get it cleaned up. They’ll be OK.”

ON IF THEY’LL BE A MORE PHYSICAL OFFENSIVE LINE: “I certainly hope so. We work that way and guys are bigger and stronger. Again, we’re a work in progress there. It’s not like overnight we can just go out there and manhandle people in the SEC. There’s a lot of teams that are big and strong. But I anticipate us being better, yes.”

ON IF ALL QUARTERBACKS HAVE A CHANCE: “I would think each of them would feel like they have the chance to be the starter right now.”

WILL THERE BE A WHITTLING DOWN PROCESS LIKE LAST TIME? “Yeah. Yeah. There will be.”

HAVE YOU DONE THAT? “No, no, we really haven’t. I think it’s why you practice. You see who comes, who’s done the work in the off-season, who’s improved and so it’s interesting. Again, it is. We have some guys that we need to work through, see who the leader is. I don’ t have an answer for you right now, I really don’t I wish I did, but I don’t.”

ON WHITLOW’S IMPROVEMENTS: “He’s more accurate. He has more command of the offense, but again, I think all the guys are better. I think it’s very helpful that the receivers are improved a lot, too.”

ON TOWLES’ MECHANICS IMPROVEMENTS: “Patrick’s mechanics I’ve been impressed with. I just feel like he’s better. He’s getting rid of the ball quicker. It’s not taking him as long to make decisions. That’s been good.”

ON DUPREE BEING MORE VOCAL LEADER: “He really has. He’s been really strong this whole offseason, and he’s playing very good football right now. He’s been on some good weight as well.”

ON HIM SAYING HE’S TRYING TO BE MORE CLEAR WITH WORDS, SPEECH: “I’ve noticed him being more vocal. I haven’t noticed as far as his speech (laughter). He has always sounded good to me. He’s fine. He’s a great kid and doing a very good job.”

ON DROPS BY WIDE RECEIVERS, SPECIFICALLY CUNNINGHAM: “Yeah, Rashad had a couple good catches later in the practice, but we need to be more consistent.”

NEAL BROWN

ON QUARTERBACKS: “All four of them that are going through spring have all improved fundamentally. That was our No. 1 focus in the offseason was fundamental improvement, not only at quarterback but at each position. And they have. Jalen’s missed a little time with a tight hamstring. Towles has really improved fundamentally, which gives him a chance. He’s gotten a lot better. The ball is getting out on time. His feet are putting him in position to throw the ball, which is a big improvement and I’m excited about that. Reese and Drew – Drew is obviously just getting here – but Reese is getting reps with the first group for the first time really. Both of those guys have added something. They’ve added a little bit of juice, and I’m excited about the progress both those guys are making. We’ve thrown a lot at them. We’ve had three days of heavy install, and on all three days we’ve looked as good in the three days than we did at any point last year. We’re better. I don’t think we’ve arrived, but we’re definitely better.”

ON RUNNING BACKS: “Jojo (Kemp) missed today. It was the first day he’s missed. He’s got a little bit of a tight hamstring. Precautionary. He could play in spring, so we’re being safe. Mikel (Horton) is learning. We threw a lot at him. It’s different today. You know, these guys are high school seniors, and we throw them in with pads for the first day. It wasn’t just, ‘Come on and tag you,’ but they got hit a little bit today and it was a little shock to the system. But he’s what we want from an athletic and a size standpoint. Braylon (Heard) is good. He’s a little rusty. He just hasn’t had a ton of live reps since his last fall at Nebraska, which I guess was the fall of 2012. So a little rusty. He adds a speed dimension. We’ve got Josh Clemons, who has been a pleasant surprise. … I’m pleasantly surprised, and I’m excited for him because he’s going to be able to give us something.”

ON WHITLOW BEING A RUNNING QUARTERBACK WITH POCKET PASSERS. DO YOU ADAPT OFFENSE FOR HIM? “I don’t know (about the premise of the question). Towles runs better than you think. He’s a big kid. I think everybody gets labeled because he’s a big kid. His Highlands film, he ran pretty well. He times pretty well. He really does. He can run it. Drew ran it for a lot of yards in high school. Obviously you’re playing against faster guys now, but he’s a natural runner. Reese ran the ball well in high school. So all three of those guys, we can run the same play (as one called with Whitlow in). Now is Jalen going to run it better? Probably. But all of them can run the ball.”

ON WHITTLING DOWN THE QUARTERBACKS: “I want to get it whittled down from a reps standpoint. We want to name a starter sooner than last year, but we’re not going to give us a false deadline. It’d be like your editor saying you had to get it done at 12, and it really didn’t matter if you got it done at 12. It’s the same kind of deal. But I want to get it done faster. I think it’s important to the football team. But we’re going to do our due diligence on it also.”

COMPETITION LEVEL OF THE QUARTERBACKS: “The whole practice is better because they’re better. The receivers are better. The running backs are better. The O-line is better because (the QBs) are better. Our quarterback play the last three practices has been better than it was last year. Jalen’s been there. He’s better now than he was when we finished Tennessee, and that’s not always the case. But they’ve got improve. We didn’t play well enough last year. You always watched it; you know.”

ON TOWLES’ IMPROVEMENTS: “His biggest improvement is getting his feet ready where he can throw it. His ball is coming out faster. He doesn’t have that long windup. He worked really hard on it, and you have to give him a lot of credit.”

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Football practice facility takes next step

Kentucky is now in what it calls the “early schematic design phase” for the new football practice facility, but doesn’t have any formal drawings in place yet.

The athletics department has hired an architect, however.

HNTB and Ross Tarrant Architects, the same team brought on to complete the $110 million Commonwealth Stadium renovations, also has been hired to design the practice facility.

Kentucky is still in the selection process for a construction manager, UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said.

The practice facility, which will connect to the Nutter Indoor Training Center and include new practice fields between that and Alumni Road, has been estimated to cost $45 million.

At least $10 million of that is coming from the Blue Grass Community Foundation of Lexington on behalf of an anonymous donor.

That donation, which was part of the $23 million approved last month, was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

Peevy said he did not have a current figure on the amount of money raised for the practice facility yet.

Several donations for the Rupp Arena locker room renovations also were made anonymously through the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

The foundation previously has said it doesn’t release the names of donors unless they wish to be named.

The university’s board also approved $368,962 more for the project to upgrade and expand Commonwealth Stadium that provides additional graphic design services, accelerated steel purchases as well as the “incorporation of the University electronic security initiatives.”

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News, notes out of spring practice

Maybe they stayed up late watching a certain basketball game, but whatever it was Coach Mark Stoops said the second day of Kentucky’s spring practice on Monday started off a tad sluggish.

But it did supply some news and notes. So here goes:

Wide receiver Javess Blue will miss spring practice after undergoing surgery on his shoulder late last week. The junior college transfer “got tangled up, got in an awkward situation and his shoulder slipped out” while working out with quarterbacks and defensive backs in off-season,” Stoops said. “He’s had it happen to him before, wanted to go get that fixed.”

Blue, Kentucky’s leading receiver last season with 43 catches for 586 yards and four touchdowns, is expected to make a full recovery.

“He’ll be fine,” Stoops said. “He’s got about three, three and a half, four months of rehab ahead of him, but he’ll be back next fall.”

  • Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was asked about cornerback J.D. Harmon, who wasn’t eligible and had to sit out last season. In 2012, Harmon led the team in interceptions with two, both at Missouri. He also led the team in pass breakups with four. “He’s just got to earn his way back. He’s got a lot of ability,” Eliot said. “He’s got the talent to be a good player, but he missed all those game reps … last year and he’s got to earn his way back.”
  • The starting defensive lineman early this spring have been returning defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Replacing the graduated tackles right now are Mike Douglas and red-shirt freshman Regie Meant.
  • Wide receiver Demarco Robinson, who was suspended at the end of last season for an unspecified violation of team rules, is back practicing with the team this spring. “He’s on the depth chart,” Stoops said of Robinson, who caught 20 passes for 213 yards and two TDs. “He’s out here practicing and he’s earning his way back on the team. He’s out here, obviously he’s back to practice. We’ll see where he’s at with status of games as we move forward.”
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Recruiting: Are Cats ready to ‘dabble a bit in Texas’?

New special teams/safeties coach Craig Naivar may give Kentucky another possible recruiter for the talent-rich state of Texas, noting that he’s recruited Houston for more than 15 years.

Naivar said his current recruiting areas are Atlanta and North and South Carolina. ”I know I’ll be in the state of Texas,” he said after spring practice. “If I can help out there and wherever I need to go I’ll do a good job.”

Stoops hinted that UK may make more of a recruiting push in Texas.

“I think I need to look at that, with Texas A&M being in our league now and expanding a little bit the SEC brand through Texas with strong ties there,” the head coach said. “We’ve got a heck of a player in TV (Williams) out of there a year ago, so I think we’ll continue to dabble a little bit in Texas.”

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Mark Stoops after Monday spring practice

After day two of spring practice was in the books, Coach Mark Stoops met with a small group of reporters. Here’s what he had to say:

“Pretty decent day, a little sluggish here on Monday morning, but they must’ve been up watching the basketball game late last night, I don’t know. But overall, decent work here the first two days. It’s good to get out here, good to get outside, good weather day today, thought the guys were doing a lot of things better. We’re physically better like I talked about the other day, it’s nice to see us. I think the quarterbacks and receivers are more on the same page for early in camp, throwing it better. Overall, decent work, need to continue to progress through spring.”

WHAT ATTRACTED HIM TO NEW SAFETIES/SPECIAL TEAMS COACH CRAIG NAIVAR: “Coach Naivar, I really liked him because he’s been a defensive coordinator and a special teams coodinator, for like I wanna say the past 15 years he’s been a coordinator. So he’s got a lot of knowledge, not just in special teams, but also in defense, to help Coach Eliot and myself with game plans and things. But when you’re hiring a position, a guy like that for that position, for special teams, he’s in front of the team a lot, so that experience of being a coordinator for a long time really helped. Like I said, I’m just impressed with him. I’ve gotten to know him here, talked to him a year ago, just informally, was just very impressed with his knowledge.”

WHAT’S HE LIKE ON FIELD? “He’s very energetic, brings a little energy to the special teams and the defense. He’s good to have him out there.”

WILL HE DRAMATICALLY CHANGE SPECIAL TEAMS SCHEMES? “Not too much, really, it’s not. The critical phases are very similar, so that’ll be good.”

DO YOU WORK ON SPECIAL TEAMS IN THE SPRING? “We’re full tilt. Right now we have as much time committed to special teams in the spring as we do in the fall.”

A.J. STAMPS HAD GOOD FIRST DAY, HOW WAS HIS SECOND? HAS IMPRESSION CHANGED? “He didn’t jump out to me as much today. I’ll have to go watch the film here right now and see how he did. Overall I’m impressed with his athletic ability. He moves around good. As we start putting things in, more and more scheme, he’s gotta be able to pick all of that up.”

DEMARCO ROBINSON’S STATUS? “He’s out here practicing, yeah, he’s on the depth chart. He’s out here practicing and he’s earning his way back on the team. He’s out here, obviously he’s back to practice. We’ll see where he’s at with status of games as we move forward.”

ON ALEX MONTGOMERY STATUS: “Alex? He’s injured.”

WHAT’S HIS STATUS: “He’s rehabbing, got a long rehab ahead of him, but he’s getting better, he’s doing good.”

IS JAVESS BLUE PRACTICING? “Javess had surgery last Friday. I meant to talk to you guys about that last Friday, honestly, just slipped my mind. He was in surgery as we were talking last Friday, so Javess will be out all spring He’ll have a full recovery. He’ll be fine. He’s got about three, three and a half, four months of rehab ahead of him, but he’ll be back next fall.”

WHAT KIND OF SURGERY? “It’s shoulder.”

WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN SEASON? “It happened in off-season. It happened while he was out training, throwing with the quarterbacks and DBs. They were doing some work and he got tangled up, got in an awkward situation and his shoulder slipped out. He’s had it happen to him before, wanted to go get that fast.”

ARE DEFENSIVE LEADERS EMERGING? “We need to be more consistent. I was encouraged in the off-season, guys like Bud (Dupree) and Z (Za’Darius Smith), but out here at practice, like today, need to remind them they continue to push that way. Avery (Williamson) is tough to replace, but Bud’s been very good in that role.”

IS MIDDLE LINEBACKER ON CAMPUS YET? “That’s by committee right now. We’ve really got to work through that. He’s a tough guy to replace and we don’t have anybody just ready to jump in.”

WILL NAIVAR’S TEXAS TIES OPEN UP RECRUITING THERE? “I do. I think I need to look at that, with Texas A&M being in our league now and expanding a little bit the SEC brand through Texas with strong ties there. We’ve got a heck of a player in TV (Williams) out of there a year ago, so I think we’ll continue to dabble a little bit in Texas.”

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Leftovers from a dietician story

This will go in the football notebook this week, but I thought these leftovers might still be good eats while you wait for basketball:

Much like Monica Fowler has helped Kentucky football players cut calories from their diets, I had to cut some of my favorite morsels from the story on UK’s dietician that ran this past week for space purposes, but here are a few of them:

Bon appétit!

  • While Fowler has been able to get the players to eat and mostly enjoy lentil soup, she still can’t convince them to eat split pea soup. “Nobody touched it because it’s green.”
  • Speaking of soup, defensive tackle Christian Coleman’s mom sent in her recipe for taco soup, which the junior loves to eat at home. The rest of the team loves it, too, and the soup, which includes tomatoes and corn, is a staple at UK’s Training Table. “It was a great recipe, good healthy soup, tastes really good,” Fowler said.
  • Fowler has learned that sometimes it’s all about packaging. After seeing fruit and yogurt get lukewarm reception from players, she now puts the yogurt and fruit together with some granola and calls it a “parfait.” She makes about 50 of these a day now and they fly off the team refrigerator shelves.
  • She heard a story recently that a player went home and looked at the plate his mother made him before dinner and sighed: “Mom, you’ve got way too many carbs on that plate.” This made Fowler, who also is a mother, cringe and smile at the same time.
  • Running the food program and kitchen area for more than 100 college-aged boys is rewarding, but sometimes a little gross, too. Fowler: “I’ve had a few days where I’ll be like, ‘Whose shoes are these? They don’t go here.’”
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