Seniors usually don’t have to get up in the early morning hours for their offseason workouts.
The awful 6 a.m. lifting sessions are typically reserved for the newcomers, but on Monday morning tight end C.J. Conrad had to go early before representing Kentucky at Southeastern Conference Media Days.
The senior looked over at the rack next to him and had to do a double take.
Next to him was a player he has watched grow up in the UK weight room. Now he’s a true freshman walk-on.
“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’” Conrad said of seeing new wide receiver Darren Edmond. “It’s just crazy because he’s been working out with us a long time. … It’s funny. He’s a really good kid and he’s actually a really good player.”
Edmond, a 5-foot-11, 184-pound wide receiver from Paul Laurence Dunbar, is the son of longtime UK director of performance Corey Edmond. He’s also the baby brother of volleyball star Leah Edmond.
“We’re very familiar with Little Bro,” running back Benny Snell said. “We give him a hard time, especially with Coach Ed. Coach Ed’s already hard enough on him.
“He’s definitely going to be a good asset to the receivers and we’re working on him early. He should be ready.”
Edmond led the Bulldogs last season in receiving with 156 yards and three touchdowns on 20 catches. He also ran for 63 yards and a score.
Edmond is one of several walk-ons with familiar names, faces and fun stories dotting the newly released UK football roster.
Coach Mark Stoops’ new chief of staff, Dan Berezowitz, now has three sons on the team at walk-on wide receiver in twin juniors Brayden and Bryan Berezowitz and now freshman Zac Berezowitz, who played at Henry Clay.
Two former Kentucky standouts in Jeremy Bowie and Joey Couch both have sons who have walked on with the Cats in Tates Creek’s Immanuel Bowie and Paintsville’s Tyler Couch.
Bowie is a 5-foot-9, 184-pound defensive back and Couch, at 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, is trying to get on board as an offensive lineman.
There are several other walk-ons listed from around the Commonwealth, including Kolbe Langhi, a 6-foot-4, 209-pound quarterback from Christian County.
The wide receiver and offensive line rooms got more crowded, too, with St. Xavier’s Will Crum (6-6, 195) and North Oldham’s Tyler Beisner (5-9, 142 pounds) listed as wideouts.
Offensive linemen from the Bluegrass include Couch, East Jessamine’s Matthew Napier (6-6, 329 pounds) and Perry Central’s Sam Turner (6-10, 310 pounds).
A former Somerset defensive lineman, Collin Hartmann (6-4, 265 pounds), also is listed on the new roster.
Cats in the clear
Kentucky was fairly banged up going into the offseason, but Coach Mark Stoops said he expects all players to be cleared by the time fall camp starts in August.
That includes star linebacker Jordan Jones, whom Stoops said is not “100 percent cleared to do everything just yet” after having shoulder surgery.
Jones, who was fifth on the team in tackles despite playing just nine games, finished with 64 stops, including and 7.5 for a loss. He also had two sacks and three quarterback hurries last year.
“He’s doing his rehab and everything’s on point,” Stoops said.
The same could be said for C.J. Conrad, who missed the final two games of last season with a foot and shoulder injury.
‘Great rule for the players’
Every school in the country is still working through the logistics that will come from the NCAA now allowing players to play in four games during the season without losing their redshirt season.
Kentucky is one of those schools looking at how to best utilize the new rule. So much of it will be on an individual basis, Stoops said.
“Some guys may be ready to play right away and you’re going to use them for the full year,” Stoops said. “Some guys maybe aren’t ready. And by the end of the year, you have some injuries and you need to plug them in, so it will be on an individual basis, but I am excited about that opportunity. I think it’s a great rule for the players.”
Freshman likely lost for season
One Kentucky signee expected to provide depth at linebacker was not listed in the newly distributed UK media guide, and it looks like he won’t be joining the team in time for the start of the season.
Ashtan Pierre, a three-star athlete from Pompano Beach, Fla., is not on the roster or mentioned in the media guide released Monday.
When asked about the 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker’s omission during on the first day of Southeastern Conference Media Days in Atlanta on Monday, Stoops called Pierre’s absence “an issue with grades, with transcript.”
Pierre has not yet established academic eligibility with the NCAA clearinghouse, Stoops said.
Media guide news and notes
The Kentucky football media guide came out this week. And while it has more than 250 jam-packed pages, those do not contain any kind of depth chart for the upcoming season. It’s possible a new depth chart will not be distributed until the week before the first game of the year.
- One quick name change of note is the freshman wide receiver known as Marvin Alexander is now listed as B.J. Alexander.
- Former Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love, who had 92 tackles last season, is back as a graduate assistant on defense for Stoops and his staff.