Notes: Maxwell Smith and Ashely Lowery will not participate in spring practice

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJanuary 8, 2014 

Two Kentucky players will miss spring practice after having successful shoulder surgeries in the off-season, a Kentucky spokesman confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Quarterback Maxwell Smith as well as safety Ashely Lowery will not be available for contact during spring training as they recover from their surgeries.

Freshman wide receiver Alexander Montgomery also will not participate in spring drills while recovering from season-ending knee surgery.

The surgery for Smith was on his right throwing shoulder, but UK spokesman Tony Neely said he was not sure if it was for the initial injury to Smith's AC joint that he suffered his freshman season at Georgia or the strain this past season or both.

In August, Smith said he opted not to have shoulder surgery last winter. He did have off-season ankle surgery in 2012.

"It was definitely a discussion I went through," Smith said in August when asked about the surgical options for his shoulder.

He said UK doctors made a lot of calls for him about the shoulder, which he said was similar to the injury suffered by former Oklahoma star quarterback Sam Bradford.

"His was just the worst degree possible whereas mine was one degree away from the worst degree possible," Smith explained in August. "So I easily could've had the surgery, but they're saying Sam Bradford, he still could have the same complications that I'm having right now. So the surgery might not have helped that much."

Another shoulder injury against Louisville, which Coach Mark Stoops and Smith said was unrelated to the previous AC joint injury, caused the quarterback issues late in the season.

"I have a bad shoulder, and maybe we'll get it re-evaluated," he said after the loss to Tennessee to end the season. "I didn't practice, but I played, so that's really all that matters. I did all I could."

An ankle injury, which required surgery last off-season, ultimately ended Smith's sophomore season and left UK with true freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles to lead the offense.

This season, Smith played in nine games, throwing for 1,276 yards and nine touchdowns, with one interception. He completed 57.4 percent of his passes (105 of 183).

Neely said Smith, who should be cleared to throw again this summer, would be a part of the "mental repetitions" in spring practice in what is expected to be a crowd behind the Kentucky center.

UK returns starter Jalen Whitlow, red-shirt quarterback Patrick Towles as well as Reese Phillips, who was moved up to the No. 2 QB spot by the end of the season. Then there's true freshman and star Kentucky signee Drew Barker.

Lowery's shoulder injury happened during the season, but he was able to play through it, Neely said. The junior safety, who played in all 12 games, was ninth on the team in tackles with 46 last season. He also had one interception, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Spring dates coming soon

Kentucky has not yet determined when spring practice will start, but could have those dates as well as a finalized date for the Blue-White Spring Game available by as early as the end of this week, Neely said.

Last season, after the hire of Stoops, Kentucky saw a record 50,831 show for its spring game at Commonwealth Stadium.

Cats land four-star commit

UK Coach Mark Stoops added the second player to his recruiting class of 2015 on with the commitment of Florida defensive back Marcus Walker.

ESPN ranks Walker — a 6-foot, 175-pounder from Lake Wales, Fla. — as the No. 12 safety and No. 222 overall player in the junior class, making him a four-star prospect.

Walker also had reported offers from Florida, Vanderbilt, Central Florida, Duke and several others.

The addition of Walker is likely to help UK with another top recruit in the Class of 2015. He is high school teammates with Luke Hiers, who is ranked by ESPN as the No. 1 offensive guard in the class.

Miami and Mississippi State are among the other schools that have offered Hiers, who was thought to be leaning toward UK even before Walker's commitment.

Ben Roberts contributed to this article.Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com

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