Several juniors will join Kentucky’s 11 seniors for Senior Day ceremonies at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, including wide receiver Alexander Montgomery and right guard Ramsey Meyers.
Montgomery, a 6-foot-2 junior from Weston, Fla., suffered a previously undisclosed third knee injury recently and will not finish his career in a Kentucky uniform.
“He’s done playing football,” Stoops said of the wide receiver, who had to have another anterior cruciate ligament repaired recently.
“I told him that I’d love to keep him in the program, have him come work with us, be a student assistant, in the recruiting room, wherever because he’s a wonderful young man and we want to take care of him and have him finish,” Stoops added.
Montgomery, who suffered his first knee injury as a true freshman, played in nine games (three catches for 18 yards) last season before injuring his other knee against Vanderbilt.
As a true freshman, Montgomery played in eight games with one start and had a strong season with 16 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns before he was hurt in a celebration during the Alabama State game.
A few weeks before that fateful Vanderbilt game last year, Montgomery wondered if he’d be able to bounce back from another setback.
“I told myself if I get another knee injury like that, I’d probably hang it up ’cause it took me, what, two years to come back?” Montgomery said last October. “I didn’t want to rehab for the first one. I was skipping rehab; I didn’t want to do it. It hurt too bad.”
In early September of this year, Stoops said even though Montgomery had missed fall camp, he was on his way back.
“He’s back and getting healthy and has been with us since school started,” Stoops said of Montgomery, rated the No. 51 wide receiver nationally by Rivals.com out of high school. “Getting back out there and working on some routes and getting involved in special teams, so we’re bringing him along.”
Montgomery, whom Stoops has known since he recruited him while at Florida State, did not play in a game this season.
The wide receiver finishes his Kentucky career with 19 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Stoops called Montgomery “one of my favorites.”
“He’s a great young man,” Stoops continued. “I’ve got some stories about his grandma. His grandma was busting my chops when I was recruiting him. One of my favorite recruiting stories, I don’t want to tell you anything about it, but she was teasing me. She was wonderful.
“Alex has had some tough times in his life and he’s persevered through a lot of things.”
Meyers, who started 28 games at right guard before Bunchy Stallings took over as the starter at that spot six games ago, also is forgoing his senior season.
“Ramsey, I think at that point, he’s exhausted,” Stoops said of the 6-foot-4, 305-pound redshirt junior from Orange Park, Fla., who is sharing time with Stallings at that spot now. “Four years and he’s going to graduate in May. I think he’d just as soon let it go at that point.”
Meyers’ departure leaves an opening going forward at right guard for UK, with Stallings penciled in as the replacement for graduating center Jon Toth after this season.
Dylan Greenberg, an offensive line transfer from Youngstown State, has not played in a game in his UK career. He was one of four walk-ons granted a scholarship during fall camp, including wideout Charles Walker and fullbacks Will Tom Collins and Tanner Fink.
Seniors who will be honored Saturday include: J.D. Harmon, Jojo Kemp, Blake McClain, Marcus McWilson, Courtney Miggins, Zach Myers, Ryan Timmons, Jon Toth and Zane Williams.
Stoops lamented UK not being able to redshirt several of those players early in their careers.
“You always have part of you that is a little ticked off because you’d love to redshirt these guys,” he said. “It kills me Marcus McWilson not having another year. Blake (McClain), Timmons, so on. I mean, you’re really starting to see them playing some good football. In particular, Marcus. I’d love to have him another year, but we weren’t in that situation.”
Tubman returns to UK with Austin Peay
One storyline this week is the return of former UK defensive end Lloyd Tubman, who now plays for Austin Peay, but neither team is going to contribute much to the discussion.
Tubman was charged with rape on UK’s campus in 2014 before a Fayette County grand jury opted not to indict him in 2015. But three UK panels found him responsible for sexual misconduct and expelled him from campus, according to court documents.
Kentucky’s coach has spoken to Tubman since he left campus but doesn’t think he’ll talk to the former Seneca star before the game.
“I really prefer not to comment too much more on that just due to sensitivity to everybody involved,” Stoops said.
Austin Peay is not making any players or assistant coaches available to the media before the UK game, including Tubman, team spokesman Kevin Young told the Herald-Leader.
Tubman, who spent last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, has played in nine games this season for the Governors and has 27 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, along with 2.5 sacks. He also has five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble this season.
News and notes
▪ Kentucky suffered several injuries to significant players at Tennessee last week, but it didn’t sound like any of them would keep the players from being available for Austin Peay this weekend. Stoops specifically was asked about the status of wide receiver Jeff Badet (hip pointer) and Jordan Jones (back spasms) and he said: “There’s a good chance they could play this week.”
▪ The start time for Kentucky’s game at Louisville on Nov. 26 has not been set yet. It was part of a six-day advance option for TV, which means nothing will be known until Saturday night. The other games in flux are Florida at Florida State and South Carolina at Clemson.
Austin Peay at Kentucky
4:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network)