Kentucky’s football spokesman wasn’t sure what to expect when Mike Edwards pulled her aside at the airport and said: “I need to show you something.”
Next thing Susan Lax knew, the safety was bending over to reveal a large tear down the back of his new blue suit pants just as Kentucky was getting ready to leave for its turn at Southeastern Conference Media Days.
“It was bad, bad,” said Lax, who has taken athletes to 20 straight SEC Media Days, the annual preseason kickoff event.
There have been a few mishaps, like when Andre Woodson had to go buy a necktie at the nearby mall because he didn’t have his or when Dicky Lyons Jr. swallowed a fly during interviews.
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But this latest development left her fumbling for what to do next.
Lax grabbed some needle and thread from the airport desk, but she’s no seamstress.
“I took home economics in high school,” she smiled. “I was going to try and rig them together so he could at least walk in there.”
Edwards, who said he heard the rip in the locker room earlier that morning when he bent over to tie his shoes, borrowed a pair of UK shorts while they decided what to do next.
UK made a call to the head of the Birmingham Alumni Association, where Edwards was scheduled to appear Wednesday morning along with Coach Mark Stoops, and asked if anyone there could help.
Next to the restaurant where the alumni group was meeting was a seamstress at Dang Alterations, who fixed the busted seam in just a few minutes for the Third Team All-SEC safety.
“We’ve had a little fun with it,” Lax laughed. “Mike is a chill guy so he didn’t worry about it too much.”
Injury updates, player arrivals
A junior-college player at a key position of need will be delayed getting on the field this season, Stoops said.
Phil Hoskins, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive lineman, is still recovering from two shoulder surgeries and might miss three or four games early in the season as he comes back.
“He's not quite ready yet, no,” Stoops said. “I wish he was, but he had to get two shoulders fixed before he got here. … Hopefully Phil will be able to step in and help, but I would anticipate that maybe not until game three, game four, game five as the season goes on, and if there are some injuries, which there generally are, hopefully he'll be ready to go.”
In his first season at Highland Community College in Kansas, Hoskins had 25 tackles, including eight for loss and four sacks while playing multiple positions on the defensive line.
▪ Two highly touted freshman, who have not been a part of summer workouts with the team, are both expected to be on campus for the start of fall camp in a couple weeks, Stoops said. Neither wide receiver Lynn Bowden nor defensive back Michael Nesbitt can work out with the team unless they’re enrolled in summer school.
▪ Junior quarterback Drew Barker, who started last season but missed much of 2016 with a back injury, has recovered fully and will not be limited in fall camp.
“I think there’s always a time when you’re coming back from an injury like that, that he has to get out there and get his confidence level back,” Stoops said of Barker, who along with Gunnar Hoak is listed as the co-backup quarterback behind Stephen Johnson. “He’s working on that.”
Cats have Elam’s back
On a broadcast this week, an SEC Network analyst called out Kentucky senior Matt Elam for underachieving his first three seasons.
Lexington TV station WKYT caught up to Greg McElroy and asked him to expound on his Elam criticism, which included him being “lazy from time to time” and that the defensive lineman takes too many plays off.
“I look at him, his size, his strength and I look at how disappointing he’s been in his first few seasons,” explained McElroy of Elam, who had just nine tackles last season. “It’s hard for me to overlook a guy with that much potential. … It’s hard to see this potential that he has and he’s not maximizing it.”
Kentucky’s head coach said he’s not for singling out one player that way and wasn’t going to respond to the Elam criticism directly, but said that the defensive line knows it has some work to do.
“I’ve been the first to say we need to improve in that area,” he said. “There’s no hiding that. Our players know that. We need to get better. … I saw some signs in the spring and I think we’re working very hard in the summer. And we’re going to improve.”
Senior linebacker Courtney Love said Elam is “doing fine” and will continue to get better.
“We all want to help make Matt successful and the defense successful,” Love said. “And when one guy gets called out, we all get called out and we have to respond.”