Mark Story: Ex-Cat Dyshawn Mobley explains surprise transfer to EKU

Kentucky Wildcats running back Dyshawn Mobley (33) breaks free for a first down against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot
Kentucky Wildcats running back Dyshawn Mobley (33) breaks free for a first down against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot Herald-Leader

There is little question who Kentucky football's most potent offensive weapon was in last season's final two games.

Making his first career start in the 11th game of his sophomore year, Dyshawn Mobley ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run at Georgia and finished with 92 yards on 10 carries. The next week, in the season finale against Tennessee, Mobley rumbled for 143 yards on 17 carries.

Off those two performances, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Mobley seems primed for a massive junior year in 2014. If that happens for the Powell, Tenn., product, however, it will be in Eastern Kentucky maroon and not UK blue.

Mobley surprised many after last season by announcing he would transfer from UK. He soon surprised again by choosing to transfer down a level to EKU of the FCS.

After such a big finish to his second season at UK, why did Mobley then leave?

Accumulated frustration seems to be the answer. During Joker Phillips' final season as Kentucky head man in 2012, it seemed that almost every week the coach would say he hoped to get Mobley into games. Yet the back who set Tennessee high school records by running for 3,068 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior carried only 41 times for UK during his true freshman season.

To Mobley's chagrin, he did not get many chances to show what he could do as a back in the first 10 games under new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff, either. After injuries and suspensions cleared the Wildcats running back depth chart, Mobley carried the ball 27 times against Georgia and Tennessee combined. He had only 16 carries before those two games.

Mobley said Thursday morning he became alienated from UK running backs coach Chad Scott.

"He would promise me he would put me in the game, then he never put me in the game," Mobley said. "I was like, 'So I can't trust him.' No trust there, there's nothing there, really."

In a statement released by UK, Scott said, "It's a disappointment that he feels that way but I want success for him and wish him all the best at EKU."

Since Phillips was fired and Stoops hired, at least 18 players with eligibility remaining have departed the Kentucky program. Such turnover is not unusual in coaching transitions, especially in cases in which a roster is inherited from a staff that was let go for losing.

The pace of the player exits from UK football have probably been enhanced because the new players Stoops and staff have brought in have been, as a rule, far more highly regarded by the recruiting analysts than most of the players who were previously in the Kentucky program.

"It definitely was a hard deal," Mobley said. "Former players were always talking about how a coaching change will mess up a team, or break a team apart.

"I didn't feel like the (new) coaching staff broke our team, Kentucky's team. But I felt like they overlooked the players who were already there. They wanted to give their (recruits) the opportunity to play — and I understand that. If I was coming in with a coach, I'd want to play right now."

Still, if one has had the feeling that Stoops and Co. have not been that sad to see a lot of the churn that has affected the UK roster, there was no indication they wanted Mobley to exit.

Even when he wasn't logging much clock as a running back, Mobley was stellar as a sophomore for Kentucky on special teams, recording 14 tackles and recovering a fumble.

After the Tennessee game, Stoops said, "I love the way he is playing. He's going all-out, and it's good to see. He's got great passion for the game. You could see that when he was going down there and busting his hump on special teams."

UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said of Mobley, "He's got a chance to be a big-time factor for us moving forward."

By then, however, Mobley said, he'd already made up his mind to leave. "Coach Stoops, he's a great guy," Mobley said. "It was just best for me to move on."

Mobley showed the ability at Kentucky to transfer to another FBS school. Along with the immediate eligibility that comes from transferring down a classification, however, he said he picked Eastern because of the relationship he had formed with EKU assistant coach Ben Hodges in recruiting.

"He recruited me as a (high school) sophomore. That means a lot," Mobley said. "I knew if I left Kentucky, my next home was Eastern Kentucky."

To say Eastern is excited about adding a back who ran for 235 yards combined against Georgia and Tennessee last season is an understatement.

"I'm a much better coach now than before he got here," Eastern running backs coach John Revere said. "Not taking anything away from the guys who were (already) here; Dyshawn has helped improve our running backs corps by coming our way."

Mobley says his immediate goal is simply for EKU "to win as many games as possible."

In 2015, his new school and his old one will cross paths. Eastern is scheduled to face Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium that season.

"I'm looking forward to that game," Mobley said. "That should be a fun game. Getting to play against the people I came in with, the ones who are still there, and the people I met (at UK), that should be fun."

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