Matt Elam responds to harsh criticism from Greg McElroy


Members of the University of Kentucky Football Team hangout on the field during the media day at Kroger Field on Sunday July 30, 2017 in Lexington, KY.

Chase Campbell

UK football’s defense has been under fire since the beginning of the 2016 season, especially defending against the rushing attack of opponents.

The criticism came to a head during the 2017 SEC Media Days, where former Alabama quarterback and SEC analyst Greg McElroy singled out UK defensive tackle Matt Elam, calling his play “lazy” and “as underachieving a player as I’ve seen in this league in some time.”

McElroy defended his statements both to WKYT and the Courier-Journal, while Elam got a chance to respond to the criticism during UK football’s Media Day on Sunday.

“I mean everybody’s entitled to their opinion, he’s a guy behind a desk, that’s what he’s paid to do,” Elam said. “I’m just working hard to change that view.”

Head coach Mark Stoops also had a chance to address the comments Sunday, saying during his opening press conference that Elam and he “have had discussions all summer about what he wants people to talk about him.”

The former five-star defensive tackle Elam is heading into his senior season, with one last season to prove any doubters and critics wrong.

“I’ve been in here just killing myself,” Elam said about his offseason preparation. “I’m doing it for myself, for my family. I’m not worried about what one guy says, everybody’s going to have their own opinion so that’s fine.”

Elam is taking the criticism and harsh words in stride, but does wish that the criticism wasn’t public. “If he would’ve came to me personally I would’ve been like, ‘I appreciate that’.”

For better or worse, Elam now has one season to prove his worth to the talented Southeastern Conference, a task that is far easier said than done.

“I know what type of player I am,” Elam said. “…You just got to go out there and put it on the film, go out there and play.”