Jen Smith on UK Football

Tuesday practice report: Who’s standing out, who’s still absent and a bold prediction

Tuesday’s practice report

Kentucky is three practices into preseason camp and one of the Cats’ most coveted recruits, four-star wide receiver Lynn Bowden, is still not at practice. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran offered no follow-up when asked if Bowden was at practice, only shaking his head no briefly. On Sunday, Coach Mark Stoops said they expected the versatile freshman from Youngstown, Ohio, to be cleared at some point this week. Bowden is still working his way through the academic clearinghouse process, coaches said at Media Day.

•  Moving right along: Having a season to learn the offense has been a big help to Kentucky, which means the first three days of camp have been less about installing offense and more about expanding it, Gran said on offense day with the media. On its first day in pads, UK was a bit sloppy on Tuesday morning, but it has absorbed useful information that might not have been possible a year ago. “For day three install for where we’re at, we could use these three installs right here and play a game,” Gran said. “And that’s something we wouldn’t do and couldn’t do last year.”

•  Fresh faces: The freshman class has its offensive coordinators “really, really excited,” Gran said. “The athleticism, the way they come out with some passions. They’re competing. I really like that. You saw some flashes.” Specifically, he mentioned three freshmen who stuck out on the first day: outside wide receivers Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps as well as running back Bryant Koback, who had several nice runs. Also from Gran: “The big linemen are athletic, they’re tall, they’re long. It’s exciting to see.”

•  Bold prediction: Kentucky’s offensive linemen took pride in the fact that the Cats were the only team in the Southeastern Conference with two 1,000-yard rushers last season in Benny Snell and Boom Williams. Do they think they can do it again? “One hundred percent. I think we can probably exceed that, honestly,” senior guard Nick Haynes said. “We definitely left holes out there; we left runs out there last year. And I think this year, how well we’re defining things, how good our technique is getting, we have a chance to do something really special.”

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