Mark Story

UK’s Stephen Johnson tells you what he really thinks of U of L’s Lamar Jackson

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson joined Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in serving as counselors at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University in Louisiana in June.
Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson joined Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in serving as counselors at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University in Louisiana in June. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Quick hitters from the summertime blues:

21. Stephen Johnson. The University of Kentucky quarterback was among the college counselors at this year’s Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., June 22-25.

20. Lamar Jackson. Louisville’s star QB, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, also worked the quarterback camp overseen by Archie, Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, quarterback for the University of Louisville, accepted the Lexington Herald-Leader's 2016 Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year award at Wednesday night’s 2017 Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet in Lexington.

19. Kentucky 41, No. 11 Louisville 38. Johnson reports the two QBs did discuss last season’s Governor’s Cup shocker, when Johnson and 27-point underdog Kentucky stunned Jackson and U of L in the biggest upset in modern Cats-Cards football history.

18. Rivalry rehash. Johnson says his exchange with Jackson focused on “the attitude of other players. Some things that were said (in the game). It was all fun.”

17. Johnson forms an impression. You can now add the UK QB to the list of people who have had a personal interaction with Lamar Jackson and come away impressed. “He’s a really cool guy,” Johnson says.

16. Drew Barker. After starting the first three games of 2016 at quarterback for Kentucky, the ex-Conner High School star missed the rest of the season due to a back injury that was surgically repaired in November.

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After missing all but three games last season, Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker reports that his surgically-repaired back felt so good this summer he “played a lot of golf.” Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

15. Moving freely. In last Saturday’s UK open practice, Barker looked fluid in his actions and threw the ball well.

14. A summer tip-off. Barker says there was an indication from the prior months that his surgically repaired back was feeling good. “We played a lot of golf this summer,” the UK QB said.

13. A message from the links. On the golf course, the QB says strangers would invariably ask “How’s your back?” Says Barker: “I’m like, ‘Well, if it was hurting me, I would not be out here golfing.’”

12. Jarrett Stidham. Few players in college football are carrying as much expectation as the redshirt sophomore Auburn quarterback, a transfer from Baylor.

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Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, is a native Kentuckian. He was born in Corbin and spent the early years of his childhood in Richmond. Auburn University Athletics

11. Hype machine rolling. CBSSports.com recently declared Stidham “the most important player in the SEC in 2017.” That’s a lot of weight for a player who has thrown only 109 career passes, completing 75 for 1,265 yards and 12 TDs as a Baylor true freshman in 2015.

10. Kentucky ties. Stidham, a 6-foot-3, 214 pounder, is a native Kentuckian. He was born in Corbin and lived with his family in Richmond from early childhood until they moved to Texas when the future QB was 9.

9. Western Kentucky’s intriguing first four. In Mike Sanford’s debut season as Hilltoppers head coach, WKU has a fascinating opening month.

8. Eastern Kentucky. The Hilltoppers open with Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 2), in the first meeting between the ancient rivals since 2008.

7. Illinois. WKU has never beaten a Big Ten team, but should have a viable chance this year (Sept. 9) at Illinois (3-9 in 2016).

6. Louisiana Tech. In week three, Western Kentucky will face Skip Holtz and Louisiana Tech (Sept. 16) in a rematch of WKU’s 58-44 win in last season’s Conference USA title game.

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In seven years (2003-09) as Western Kentucky football coach, David Elson led the Hilltoppers to five winning seasons. Now defensive coordinator at Ball State, Elson will return to Bowling Green when the Cardinals visit WKU Sept. 23. Ball State Athletics

5. Ball State. The Cardinals from the Mid-American Conference (Sept. 23) may bring the juiciest plot line of all to Bowling Green.

4. A familiar face. Ball State’s new defensive coordinator is David Elson — the same David Elson who led WKU to five winning seasons in his seven years (2003-09) as Hilltoppers head coach but was fired during the inevitable lean years as Western transitioned from the FCS to the FBS.

3. Mike Summers. The Joker Phillips-era Kentucky assistant (2010-12) is back at Louisville this year for his second stint coaching the offensive line for Bobby Petrino with the Cardinals.

2. UK pedigree. Summers is one of Joe B. Hall’s son-in-laws, married to the ex-UK basketball coach’s daughter, Kathy.

1. A Big Blue boo. When Hall recently had a mural unveiled in his hometown of Cynthiana, he mentioned, while introducing his family, that Summers (who was not there) was the offensive line coach at Louisville.

Artist Sérgio Odeith discusses creating a mural of former UK mens basketball coach Joe B. Hall, which was unveiled in his hometown of Cynthiana on Tuesday.

Turns out, even being a reference to a Joe Hall family member is not enough to prevent a crowd in Big Blue Country from heartily booing the mention of U of L.

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