Stoops confident, ready to do the work as season approaches


Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops high fives a fan during Cat Walk before the University of Kentucky vs. UT Martin football game on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 50-7. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Monday marked the inaugural Schlarman Strong / Kentucky Football Alumni Golf Event, held at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, KY, honoring the life of former assistant coach John Schlarman, who passed away in November 2020.

Before the day of golf began, head coach Mark Stoops took some time to address the media.

“Everybody realized the profound effect John (Schlarman) had on the University of Kentucky and on people,” Stoops said.

As Stoops enters the ninth year of his tenure as head coach at UK, this off-season saw maybe the biggest shakeup to his coaching staff since his initial arrival to Lexington, as five new coaches will be on the sidelines for Kentucky this season.

Last Thursday saw the fifth and final hire by Stoops, as Chris Collins was named the defensive backs coach, replacing Steve Clinkscale.

“Chris was somebody that I heard a lot of good things about, I didn’t really know him personally. Each time we talked to him I came out more and more impressed,” Stoops said.

Another new face in the bluegrass this season is new offensive line coach Eric Wolford. He comes to Kentucky after four seasons with South Carolina at the same position, has already made a good impression with Stoops.

“Eric is the perfect fit. I think everybody that spends any time around him will get a great feel for that, including our players,” Stoops said.

While Wolford has big shoes to fill in replacing Schlarman, Stoops is not worried about the transition.

“John was very hard on the players and very demanding, and Eric is much the same. They may be different in their personalities but it’s the same way, they built relationships with their players.”

On another coaching note, Stoops gave an update on wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight’s status with the program:

“He is suspended at this point in time. He’s been on unpaid suspension since the time it happened,” Stoops explained.

Bouknight, who was hired in March 2020, was arrested on May 8 and charged with driving under the influence.

As college sports hope for a smooth return to normalcy, Stoops is open-minded and confident as football season rolls around:

“I feel very good about the state of the program and where we’re going, that doesn’t mean we’re there yet, we’re certainly not, but we’re going to work extremely hard and we’re going to do it the right way.”