UK Football

‘They definitely can rely on Bryant.’ UK has firsthand experience with Toledo star.

UK football’s Mark Stoops: Toledo is ‘used to winning,’ ‘well-coached’

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks about the Toledo Rockets, UK’s opponent for the season opener on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Kroger Field. Toledo has been picked to win the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.
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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks about the Toledo Rockets, UK’s opponent for the season opener on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Kroger Field. Toledo has been picked to win the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.

Bryant Koback was the only running back Kentucky signed as part of its 2017 recruiting class, and he wasn’t around long.

Koback didn’t play for UK in his lone season in Lexington. He transferred following his first semester, citing family reasons, and joined the University of Toledo during its 2018 spring camp.

His first year closer to home was productive: the Holland, Ohio, native was granted a hardship waiver for immediately eligibility and rushed for 917 yards and 14 touchdowns on 153 carries, helping him earn a spot on this year’s candidate list for the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation’s top running back.

UK head coach Mark Stoops was asked if he harbored any regrets about how Koback’s transfer played out. Stoops’ policy prior to Koback’s transfer was to not permit players to transfer to Southeastern Conference schools or future opponents on UK’s schedule, but he budged on that stance in Jan. 2018.

“No, no, I think it worked out very, very smooth, seamless,” Stoops said. “Those are difficult situations. As I’ve mentioned many times, you have to look at each situation individually. That’s why there’s so much discussion about it, because everything is not always black and white. There’s different issues, different circumstances with somebody’s desire to transfer. I think that’s why you see strong opinions on that issue on both sides, because they’re different.”

Toledo last season averaged 40.4 points per game while averaging 443.8 yards per game. Its offensive splits were almost dead even: 215.9 rushing yards per game to 227.9 passing yards each time out.

The Rockets have two quarterbacks, senior Mitchell Guadagni and junior Eli Peters, who played significant minutes last year; neither has officially been named the starter for Saturday. Rockets junior Shakif Seymour started eight games last season at running back last year; he and Koback, a sophomore, are listed as “OR” for the starting job against Kentucky.

Stoops knows firsthand how capable one of the two is.

“They definitely can rely on Bryant,” Stoops said.

Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.
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