Jen Smith on UK Football

NFL-bound Korem says UK will still do sports science; transition plans in place

It took a special job in a special place to lure High Performance Coordinator Erik Korem away from Kentucky.

And the Houston Texans made an offer he couldn’t turn down, Korem confirmed late Friday night.

“It was an opportunity to go home to the state of Texas, work for the Houston Texans is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often or ever,” the Dallas native told the Herald-Leader. “I’m excited to go to work and hopefully make an impact in whatever way they want me to.”

He will be part of an emerging department being created by the Texans similar to work being done at Kentucky and elsewhere that tracks athletes and looks at how the physical, mental, tactical and intellectual development are connected in athletes.

It was something that UK was on the cutting edge of thanks to Coach Mark Stoops and now it’s happening at many levels across the country, Korem said.

“What people don’t realize is Coach, he really went out on a ledge in some ways and he really started a trend that’s affected a lot of people across college football and the NFL,” said Korem, who came with Stoops from Florida State four years ago.

Korem said it was hard to leave UK and Stoops, someone he has worked with for a long time.

“I love Coach Stoops,” said the high performance coordinator, whose $270,000 a year contract was not set to expire until next June. “I gave him a hug today and he told me he loved me and I told him I loved him and he’s excited for me.”

There will be some restructuring of the program after Korem’s departure, but he said Kentucky would still be using the tracking and monitoring as well as the data gathered from it. The Cats will still have a director of sports science on staff as well.

“They’re definitely going to keep doing it,” Korem said of the program. “We’ve already made transition plans.”

In December, Stoops hinted that he would be evaluating the strength and conditioning programs as well as the High Performance program during the offseason, but the head coach said he was “100 percent confident” in the work Korem and his staff were doing.

For his part, Korem is confident that Kentucky is heading in the right direction.

“First class athletic organization from top to bottom,” he said. “Mitch Barnhart is exceptional, and I really do believe UK is going to make that jump this year.”

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader