Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Mark Stoops on SEC teleconference

MARK STOOPS

On where Kentucky stands heading into the summer: “I was very pleased with our offseason. I felt like with the winter program, it felt like our players worked extremely hard. We needed to. I felt like we got bigger, stronger, went through more fourth quarter program than we had in the past. I felt like our team was much more fit through the winter. That carried into spring. Had a very good spring, very productive. I’m very pleased with where we’re headed, in particularly offensively, with the coaching staff changes. I felt very good with coach Eddie Gran and the expectation of our offense and the direction that we’re headed. Again, I just felt like it was more consistent, more productive, as it should be as we head into the fourth year of trying to build this program. Looking forward to wrapping up finals here this week and to have the players here for the entire summer work. I encouraged them to take a couple days off in May and quite a few of them opted to stay and go to summer school in May and of course our summer program kicks in full force. So, that’s where we’re at.”

On if the recruiting footprint will change after staff changes: “It will not. Our footprint will not change much. With the guys that I hired, I think that was intentional, as well. I know recruiting success that guys have in certain areas. We need to continue to do that. We need to continue to do great in the state of Kentucky, we need to continue to do very well in Ohio and we need to expand and continue to get those difference makers and quality players throughout the south.”

On if he plans to change anything about how he sells the program this summer: “I won’t do much different. I still have certain speaking engagements and obligations. I certainly do my fair share of getting around town and promoting the program. We need that support. I understand fans wanting to see a quality product out there as we do, so our players and our staff are working extremely hard and we’re excited and optimistic about this upcoming season.”

On the impact of Lamar Thomas this spring: “I just think if you watch Lamar you see a very energetic guy that brings credibility. He played in the NFL (inaudible), was one of the great college football players. He has a great presence about him, does a great job in recruiting. So, I think our players have (inaudible).”

On perception that JUCO recruits are expected to start and how that applies to JUCO QB Stephen Johnson being the backup after spring: “I’m not sure about that perception. Any junior-college player that we recruit, certainly we would not be recruiting that position if we didn’t feel like there was a great opportunity for that player to be the starter but nothing is ever guaranteed at any position, junior-college or high school. We have guys that are in your way – the same at that position. We certainly have a lot of confidence in Stephen, and I think he did a very good job and was very impressive. Stephen will have a role, and he’ll continue to compete. Stephen knows exactly where he stands when he came into our program and he knows exactly where he stands now.”

On growth of Drew Barker: “I’ve seen a big change in Drew and I want to continue to see that. This is one semester. He needs to have a great summer; he needs to be a great leader in organizing all voluntary workouts and throwing with receivers and running backs and tight ends. But I have seen a change. I’ve seen a maturity in him. I’ve seen him much more composed on and off the field. I see a guy who’s very hungry to learn and just settle in and continue to grow.”

On linebacker position: “I feel good about the linebacker positions. I definitely see a lot of talent. Courtney Love is a guy who was ineligible a year ago, but has played a lot of football, transferred from Nebraska. He’s an incredible leader and a great person to build the defense around being right there in the middle at the Mike linebacker position. So Courtney had a very productive spring and did a great job of just being a leader on and off the field. Jordan Jones is another guy that’s shown just incredible talent, a guy that needs to continue to gain some weight, get stronger, but extremely athletic and looks very impressive out there. Denzil Ware at the outside linebacker really had a good spring, capped it off with a great spring game, which was really good to see. And another guy that’s very versatile — can play inside or outside — De’Niro Laster, was ineligible a year ago as well. So those are a few guys. Looking forward to having a good summer, seeing if they can continue to grow. We certainly are a little bit inexperienced there and that will hurt, but I do feel like we’re very talented.”

On satellite camp plans and impact on future: “We will take part in the satellite camps. I don’t think we’ll overdo it. We want to continue to get players on our campus throughout the summer and our coaches work very hard to get prospects on our campus and in our camps, to unofficially come see us in the summer and see our campus, get familiar with us. We want to continue to work that angle as well. We will take part; we’ll do several in Florida; we’ll do a couple in Ohio and one in Georgia as well.”

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