Kentucky senior Raymond Sanders suspended for final game

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 25, 2013 

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Suspended senior running back Raymond Sanders leads Kentucky in rushing with 107 carries for 464 yards and three touchdowns, and is fourth in receiving.

JONATHAN PALMER — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders will miss the final game of his career for a violation of team rules, Coach Mark Stoops said Monday.

Stoops said he hadn't decided whether Sanders would be allowed to participate in Senior Night festivities before the Cats' season finale against Tennessee.

"He will not be permitted to play this week," Stoops said. "We were working through a couple things last week, where you all heard this or that; I know I got a couple questions on it. We got some more information back today and it firmed up our decision with what to do with him on Saturday."

Contrary to one report circulating last week, Sanders has not been dismissed from the team nor will he be, Stoops said.

The 5-foot-8 senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., leads the team in rushing with 107 carries for 464 yards and three touchdowns and is fourth in receiving with 19 catches for 137 yards.

Sanders finishes his Kentucky career 16th all-time in rushing with 339 carries for 1,542 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 4.5 yards a rush for his career.

Sanders has been suspended previously, missing last season's Western Kentucky game after being cited for marijuana possession with former teammates Bookie Cobbins and Marcus Caffey, who have since parted ways with the program.

The UK coach said he was disappointed in his senior running back.

"Very disappointed," Stoops said. "I've sat in here and bragged on him throughout the year. And it doesn't change my opinion of Raymond. I think he's a good person. I am disappointed in a few decisions that he made, but he's a good person. He was a good person for this program. Let's not let this define him.

"I am disappointed. It is unacceptable. He will not play. And that's really all I want to say."

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown also said he was disappointed, but wanted the offense to move forward.

"I'm excited about how Dyshawn (Mobley) performed the other night," Brown said. "Like to get Jojo (Kemp) healthy. He's been slowed down a little bit by an ankle, get him healthy. I'm excited about those two guys. Give (Jonathan) George an opportunity to play in his last home game here, too."

■ Two other players suspended last week, defensive end Jason Hatcher and cornerback Cody Quinn, will play this week, Stoops said Monday. Wide receiver Demarco Robinson, who was suspended at the same time as the others last week, will not play the rest of the season. His suspension was listed as indefinite.

Will Robinson play next season?

"Yes, provided he meets some requirements we'll put on him," Stoops said.

Injury updates

Cornerback Nate Willis will undergo a scope on his knee this week and will miss the final game against Tennessee, Stoops announced Monday.

"He got cleared to play last week late in the week," Stoops said. "He was just OK. It's a knee injury. It's nothing major, but it's something that's aggravating him and we've decided to go ahead and get that trimmed up this week. So he's going to go in and get it operated on and get a few things cleaned up out of his knee. Nothing major. He'll be back in a few weeks."

■ Quarterback Jalen Whitlow will continue to be evaluated this week. The sophomore, who has battled shoulder and ankle injuries this season, also has been having neck spasms for the past two weeks.

"We're working through that right now," Stoops said. "Everything has checked out OK to this point. We've given him some very thorough exams. He's gotten an MRI, went to a specialist. Everything seems fine at this point. So we'll see how he progresses through the week. There's nothing major wrong with him, so hopefully he'll be able to play. If not, we'll prepare to play with Max (Smith)."

Brown said Smith would get a majority of the reps early this week until Whitlow's status is more clear.

Both Stoops and Brown said it is highly unlikely that there would be a circumstance where the redshirt would come off of freshman quarterback Reese Phillips.

"I did consider putting Reese (Phillips) in the (Georgia) game when Jalen got hurt, but that wouldn't have been a wise decision," Stoops said. "But emotionally, I was a little bit frustrated and thinking about it. And part of me, as I said earlier in other press conferences, I would've liked to have seen Reese just to see where we're going, what he had in a game."


Saturday

Tennessee at Kentucky

When: 7 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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