Jason Hatcher clapped the ball between his hands and got down in a stance.
"C'mon, 99," he bellowed. "I see you there, 99. You ready, 99."
The player in jersey No. 99 hiked his shorts up a little and gave a nod. Then he weaved in and out of tackling bags, smacking each one as he went around it.
When he got to the end, Hatcher tossed the ball his direction.
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No. 99, CJ MacFarlan of the Lexington Colts, flashed a smile as wide as the football he reeled in.
And the cheer that erupted rivaled one heard on football fields around the country on a Friday or Saturday night in the fall.
His was one of many drills going on all around Kentucky's Tim Couch Practice Fields on Sunday as the UK football team welcomed some special flag football players from Special Olympics Kentucky.
Nearly 100 UK players in T-shirts and shorts ran drills for the Special Olympians representing four area flag football teams.
There were the linebacker drills, kicking drills that led tight ends coach Vince Marrow to yell across the field that UK needed to sign one of the visitors. There were receiver and quarterback accuracy drills and what appeared to be a touchdown dance drill in one corner.
As head coach Mark Stoops looked on, he talked about how the Special Olympians weren't the only ones getting something out of the day's events.
"Just to see the pure joy in these kids' hearts, on their faces," Stoops said. "Just pure hearts and just having fun. ... How could it not help our players and help develop them as young men?"
Before the players would come together to form seven-on-seven teams to play on the adjoining practice fields, quarterback Patrick Towles raised his arms to huddle up the players around him.
Towles' huddle broke loudly with one word: "Family."
Trish Mazzoni, president and CEO of Special Olympics Kentucky, called the event at UK's training facility unprecedented. It's the first time her organization has done anything like this with a school like Kentucky.
The timing of it all made Mazzoni even more appreciative.
"They're so intense right now, this UK team preparing for a season, and for them to take time out to do this ..." she said, estimating that more than 50 Special Olympics flag football players were at the event. "It's a win-win for everybody."
She knew the event had a different kind of vibe when she got to the practice facility and saw the Special Olympians bouncing up and down, smiles on their faces. Several said they hadn't slept at all the night before.
"They're just so excited," Mazzoni said. "They're like everybody else, they're big UK fans and when they heard this was going to happen, they were just beside themselves."
Some of the UK players were beside themselves, too.
"Seeing the pure happiness and joy on everybody's faces, it's really awesome," quarterback Drew Barker said. "Just having these athletes come out here and seeing the happiness on their face playing the game that we play every day is just awesome."
Backup kicker Max Strong, who has worked with Special Olympics Kentucky before and helped organize the event, said he couldn't think of a better way to take a break from fall camp.
"I know we're only here with them for one day, but you can tell this isn't fake for them," Strong said. "This is real. They love being out here. So allowing us to see that, it gives us another — it lets us know this is more than a game and we can do a lot for not only ourselves but in the community, too."
Strong is hopeful that the interaction will lead to more events with the organization in the future.
The Special Olympians are going to have at least one more event with UK football this season. After the games ended on Sunday, Stoops huddled the players up and asked them to attend the Kentucky home opener on Sept. 5 as his guests.
■ One of the four visiting teams on Sunday was from a program called STRIDE in Winchester. The team also happened to have the name "Sooners" on the front of their jerseys.
The humor in that was not lost on Stoops, whose brother Bob is head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
"I can't get away from the Sooners on my own practice field," Mark Stoops said. He went over to have his picture taken with the group and planned to send it to his brother later.