UK football undergoes numerous coaching changes during off-season


University of Kentucky’s new head football coach, Mark Stoops, makes his way to the conference table at during the Live Press Conference held at the Nutter Training Facility in Lexington, KY on Sunday December 2nd, 2012. Photo by Kirsten Holliday | Staff

Jack Pilgrim

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When the 2015 football season came to a close, fans demanded change. Finishing with a 5-7 record and missing out on yet another bowl game, fans began questioning if UK head coach Mark Stoops could actually get the Cats to a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season.

With so much talent on the roster, and consistently dominant recruiting classes for recent UK football standards, fans wanted a change of scenery on the coaching staff and felt that was UK’s best chance for future success. Shannon Dawson, UK’s offensive coordinator was fired, along with the departures of wide receiver coach Tommy Mainord to North Texas and running back coach Chad Scott to North Carolina.

These exits led the way for Stoops to hire a coaching staff capable of utilizing UK’s talent and producing victories on the field. Former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran packed his bags and headed to Lexington, along with his up-and-coming assistant and quarterback coach, Darin Hinshaw. Both coaches are widely respected, and are known as some of the top recruiters in the nation.

Though Gran and Hinshaw are fantastic hires in their own right, a void was still missing at the wide receiver coaching spot. With a wide receiving corps oozing with talent, Stoops knew he had to find someone to unlock that potential.

Insert Lamar Thomas, former wide receiver coach for the University of Louisville. 

Stoops and Gran made some calls and found their guy in Thomas. He is known for being a dominant recruiter in the South Florida area, recently signing a guy UK fans are sadly quite familiar with, UofL quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is just one of the studs Thomas has signed at UofL, and he looks to continue that trend at UK.

On top of being a tenacious recruiter, Thomas has incredible experience in the WR department. He won two national championships as a receiver for the Miami Hurricanes, and then played eight years in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins.

After his NFL career, he eventually ended up at Western Kentucky University as the receivers coach under Bobby Petrino. When Petrino spurned WKU to coach at the Louisville, Thomas followed.

Thomas can be a tough, hard-nosed coach that gets the most out of his receivers – something UK desperately needs. After coaching talents like DeVante Parker and James Quick, it’s apparent Thomas has the track record one would hope for in player development. With his playing experience, recruiting excellence and coaching success, UK football opens his transfer with open arms.

Another recent development comes with the signing of former Iowa State receivers coach Tommy Mangino as UK’s quality control coach.

Mangino is the son of former Kansas football head coach and most recently Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. Tommy is an up-and-coming coaching talent with a great feel for the game. He will be in charge of helping Gran with film studies, team breakdowns, scouting and more.

Though he technically will not recruit since he is not considered a full-time assistant, Mangino will be able to provide analysis and scouting on recruits he feels will contribute to the team. The staff is very excited to bring Mangino on board, and feel as though he will be a big piece to future success for the Cats.

With the coaching carousel likely coming to a close at UK for this off-season, Stoops has put together a staff ready to contribute to the necessary development of players, and in turn hopes to add several more victories to the win total in coming years.