Kentucky had an unexpected transfer on Wednesday when redshirt freshman running back Bryant Koback announced via Twitter that he is planning to move closer to home.
“I have made a decision that has not been easy to move home and attend a school closer to home due to some unforeseen circumstances with my family,” said Koback, who starred at Springfield High School in Ohio.
Koback, who was a top 50 running back commitment according to every major recruiting service, sat out the 2017 season while coming back from a leg injury his senior year of high school.
There was some speculation that Koback would end up playing this past season, but coaches opted to leave the redshirt on him.
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“I wish Big Blue nothing but the best and appreciate their support in my decision,” the 6-foot, 200-pound running back added on social media.
In an interview with a television station in Toledo, Koback said he’d narrowed his transfer choices to Toledo, Bowling Green, and Eastern Michigan which are all within 45 minutes of Holland, Ohio.
Koback also said that while Coach Mark Stoops has released him to transfer, he won’t allow the running back to transfer to any Southeastern Conference school or any team on UK’s upcoming schedule. The Cats are scheduled to play both Toledo and Eastern Michigan in 2019.
When asked about this, UK released this statement from Stoops, reversing his long-standing transfer policy: “Until this afternoon, Bryant had never talked to me personally to ask me to change that policy.
“Following a discussion this afternoon, I’ve decided to allow Bryant to transfer to Toledo or Eastern Michigan if he so chooses. We wish Bryant and his family the best.”
In his shortened high school career, the player from Holland, Ohio, had more than 4,400 all-purpose yards and 57 touchdowns. Koback managed 100 or more yards in every game he played in and more than 400 all-purpose yards a game.
Kentucky returns standout Benny Snell, who is on pace to be the leading rusher in school history, next season, as well as senior-to-be Sihiem King and A.J. Rose, who played sparingly, but came on strong at the end of the season, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said.
In the early signing period in December, UK signed another running back, Chris Rodriguez out of McDonough, Ga. He drew high praise from his soon-to-be coaches.
“One of the best compliments we can give Chris is telling him he’s a lot like Benny,” Stoops said of the 6-foot, 200-pound prospect rated three stars by Rivals. “What I mean by that, as you all know the way I commented on Benny early on, we had a good idea of what we were getting. Maybe not necessarily knowing how many yards he would get in his first two years, but we knew he was a strong player. We knew he was mentally tough.
“We knew he was a competitor. Chris I feel is the same way. I feel he’s a very tough guy. He’s very disciplined. He’s very strong. He gets very tough yards. We’re excited about him.”
UK might look to add another scholarship running back in the regular signing period, which begins Feb. 7.
The Cats have been linked to uncommitted three-star prospect Kavosiey Smoke, a 5-foot-11 running back from Wetumpka, Ala. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 29 player at that position nationally for the class of 2018, and he’s mentioned UK among his finalists in recent weeks.
Smoke is scheduled to take an official visit to Auburn this month, and Kentucky also could get one of his remaining official visits.
Staff writer Ben Roberts contributed to this report.