UK Football

SEC Media Days notes: Opportunity for season-opening revenge driving UK players

WKU running back Antonio Andrews got a lift from offensive lineman Adam Smith after scoring a TD in the second quarter. Andrews scored three TDs and threw the winning two-point conversion pass.
WKU running back Antonio Andrews got a lift from offensive lineman Adam Smith after scoring a TD in the second quarter. Andrews scored three TDs and threw the winning two-point conversion pass. Herald-Leader

HOOVER, Ala. — Now that the pep rally that is the Southeastern Conference Media Days has ended, Kentucky's players and coaches were ready to focus on the next task at hand: The season opener against Western Kentucky.

At their turn with the media on Wednesday, UK players said they had no trouble finding the motivation to get started with fall camp on Aug. 4 thanks to their neighbors to the west.

The players said the aftermath of the 32-31 overtime loss to WKU at Commonwealth Stadium last season is plenty motivating.

Running back Raymond Sanders called that loss — one of 10 for Kentucky last season — the most difficult to swallow.

"Those guys were pretty disrespectful on our field — and disrespectful with some tweets and Facebook and some stuff," Sanders said when asked about it this week.

"After the game, jumping and stomping on the field. ... It's our field. You've got to take pride in that. You can't be disrespectful of that. And it was a couple things that they said. We're just waiting until Aug. 31 and we're going to let that talk."

It's been a key motivator for UK's players this off-season.

"We have to continue to prepare because we owe them a little something for last year," senior defensive tackle Donte Rumph said. "That's our focus right now."

Linebacker Avery Williamson said he wasn't going to judge whether or not the Cats' in-state rival "over-celebrated" a marquee win for its program last year, but he couldn't deny that the loss has given UK plenty to think about.

"They beat an SEC team and they did a great job of executing and we didn't take advantage of it, honestly, so kudos go to them," he said. "I can't say they did it disrespectfully. ... That's the way they celebrate. We're just going to take it out on them this summer."

You didn't have to be on the Commonwealth Stadium field as last season's two-point conversion trick play between Antonio Andrews and Kawaun Jakes transpired to know that this first game is an important one.

Mark Stoops was in another state in another program's colors when it happened, but the first-year Cats coach knows this game is a tone-setter.

"That's our first game of this new era of our program," he said on Wednesday in front of hundreds of media members. "We have an awful lot on the line. We can't take anything for granted at Kentucky right now."

It also will be the first game of a new era at WKU and for new coach Bobby Petrino. Stoops said he doesn't know the former Louisville and Arkansas coach well.

"I expect a very good team, good offensive mind," he said of Petrino and WKU. "He's had some great success. I'm sure they're going to be very excited to play us."

Cats picked last in East; defenders honored

Kentucky was picked to finish last in the SEC Eastern Division, according to a vote by media members at the event. The poll, which was released on the final day of Media Days, also had linebacker Avery Williamson and defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree named to the All-SEC third team.

As expected, defending national champion Alabama was named to repeat as conference champion, garnering 182 first-place votes to 38 for Georgia, the next-highest vote-getter. South Carolina (18), Texas A&M (4) and Louisiana State (1) were the only others to receive a first-place vote.

The Eastern Division voting order was Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky.

The Western Division order was Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi, Auburn, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

Only Missouri had fewer players on the SEC's pre-season team than Kentucky. The Tigers had just one player named to the three teams: defensive back E.J. Gaines.

■ Official attendance for this week's Media Days was 1,239, a new high for the event. The previous high was 1,085 last year.

The SEC issued some "fun facts" from the event, which included the media consuming 1,600 total meals, 2,000 bags of Golden Flake chips, 7,500 cups of Dr. Pepper and 80 gallons of coffee.

The league office also said players and coaches drank 288 bottles of water and 120 bottles of Gatorade during the three-day event.

Following in Mississippi's footsteps?

It wasn't too long ago that Ole Miss was in the same situation as Kentucky is going into this season, bringing in a new coach after a disappointing 2-10 season, including an 0-8 mark in conference.

In just one season, the Rebels turned it around, going 7-6 in Coach Hugh Freeze's first season.

Freeze was asked this week about that turnaround, and about reeling in the nation's top-ranked 2013 recruiting class.

The coach said he'd heard the rumors of cheating because of the quick about-face at Ole Miss, but added that recent recruiting success at UK and Tennessee this off-season has proven it's not just a Rebels thing.

"I'm very thrilled — not thrilled, we're going to have to end up playing them — but Mark (Stoops) at Kentucky, Butch (Jones) at Tennessee, our guy at Virginia (Mike London), is doing so good in recruiting. It can be done.

"It helps if you have some natural tie-ins and things we were fortunate to have."

For Stoops, that natural tie-in seems to be the fertile football ground in his home state of Ohio, where eight of Kentucky's 19 commitments for 2014 are playing.

"It's been somewhat of a pleasant surprise of the amount of success we're having in that region so quickly," Stoops said. "Very encouraged by that for the future."

SEC media voting


SEC champion: Alabama 182, Georgia 38, South Carolina 18, Texas A&M 4, LSU 1.

Eastern Division

Georgia (149) 1,570

South Carolina (75) 1,474

Florida (19) 1,300

Vanderbilt 858

Tennessee 694

Missouri 577

Kentucky 331

Western Division

Alabama (225) 1,681

Texas A&M (11) 1,333

LSU (7) 1,324

Mississippi 883

Auburn 579

Mississippi State 516

Arkansas 488

(Note: First-place votes in parentheses)

All-SEC Players



QBJohnny Manziel, Texas A&M

RBT.J. Yeldon, Alabama

RBTodd Gurley, Georgia

WRAmari Cooper, Alabama

WRJordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

TEArthur Lynch, Georgia

OLCyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

OLJake Matthews, Texas A&M

OLAnthony Steen, Alabama

OLGabe Jackson, Miss. State

CTravis Swanson, Arkansas


DLJadeveon Clowney, S. Carolina

DLDominique Easley, Florida

DLAnthony Johnson, LSU

DLChris Smith, Arkansas

LBC.J. Mosley, Alabama

LBA.J. Johnson, Tennessee

LBDenzel Nkemdiche, Mississippi

DBHa Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

DBCraig Loston, LSU

DBLoucheiz Purifoy, Florida

DBDeion Belue, Alabama


PKyle Christy, Florida

PKCarey Spear, Vanderbilt

RSOdell Beckham Jr., LSU

APBruce Ellington, S. Carolina



QBAJ McCarron, Alabama

RBTre Mason, Auburn

RBx-LaDarius Perkins, Miss. State

RBx-Keith Marshall, Georgia

WRDonte Moncrief, Mississippi

WRMike Evans, Texas A&M

TERory Anderson, S. Carolina

OLAntonio Richardson, Tennessee

OLJon Halapio, Florida

OLChris Burnette, Georgia

OLJa'Wuan James, Tennessee

CReese Dismukes, Auburn


DLXzavier Dickson, Alabama

DLEd Stinson, Alabama

DLDee Ford, Auburn

DLJeoffrey Pagan, Alabama

LBAdrian Hubbard, Alabama

LBJordan Jenkins, Georgia

LBLamin Barrow, LSU

DBDamian Swann, Georgia

DBAndre Hal, Vanderbilt

DBMarcus Roberson, Florida

DBVinnie Sunseri, Alabama


PCody Mandell, Alabama

PKCody Parkey, Auburn

RSBruce Ellington, S. Carolina

APOdell Beckham Jr., LSU



QBAaron Murray, Georgia

RBx-Matt Jones, Florida

RBx-Jeff Scott, Mississippi

RBx-Alfred Blue, LSU

WRMalcolm Mitchell, Georgia

WRJarvis Landry, LSU

TEBrian Vogler, Alabama

OLLa'el Collins, LSU

OLJosh Williford, LSU

OLWesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

OLx-A.J. Cann, South Carolina

OLx-Zach Fulton, Tennessee

Cx-James Stone, Tennessee

Cx-Jonotthan Harrison, Florida


DLGarrison Smith, Georgia

DLDaniel McCullers, Tennessee

DL Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

DLC.J. Johnson, Mississippi

LBRonald Powell, Florida

LBTahj Jones, LSU

LBx-Trey DePriest, Alabama

LB x-Avery Williamson, Kentucky

DBE.J. Gaines, Missouri

DBCharles Sawyer, Mississippi

DBJalen Mills, LSU

DBChris Davis, Auburn


PSteven Clark, Auburn

PKZach Hocker, Arkansas

RSAndre Debose, Florida

APLoucheiz Purifoy, Florida

(x-denotes tie in the voting)

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