UK media day quick hits


Freshman quarterback Drew Barker waits for a snap during spring football practice in Lexington , Ky.,on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Photo by Michael Reaves

By Derek Terry

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Here are a few quick hits from UK head coach Mark Stoops’ press conference on Friday.


Offensive tackle Nick Richardson is no longer with the program. Richardson signed with the Cats in 2014 and redshirted last season. He was expected to compete for playing time as a backup this season.

In addition, signees Javon Provitt and Therrell Gosier did not qualify academically. Provitt, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle, signed with Lackawanna Community College and will likely be recruited by the Cats again in two seasons. Gosier, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver from Miami picked the Cats late in the recruiting process after being committed to the University of Miami. Gosier had academic question marks during his recruitment, but UK took a gamble on the receiver. Levon Livingston, an offensive lineman, is not yet with the team, but Stoops said he hopes to have Livingston on campus in the coming weeks.

Figuring out the defensive secondary

The defensive secondary remains a mystery. Despite returning three starters in Fred Tiller, Cody Quinn and A.J. Stamps, the group has struggled at times in the last two years under Stoops. Stoops raved about freshmen Chris Westry and Derrick Baity over the summer and looks for those guys to compete for playing time at cornerback. Despite starting for much of the last three seasons, Tiller and Quinn’s jobs are not guaranteed.

“They have no choice but to work and get better,” Stoops said. “We put pressure on all of our players to improve. They need to improve, we’re proud of the work they’ve done, but we need to be more consistent.”

Quarterback Controversy? 

Despite Patrick Towles returning after starting all 12 games last season, Stoops is not ready to name him the starter. Towles threw for 2,718 yards last season and 14 touchdowns in his first full season as the starter. Freshman redshirt and prized 2014 recruit Drew Barker is expected to compete with Towles for the starting position.

“I think it’s more of a compliment to Drew and his capabilities than anything negative about Patrick,” Stoops said. “Patrick has done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’s getting better. I think he’s going to have a great year, but I go to Drew and the good things he’s done. He deserves that opportunity and we’re going to get a good look at him.”

Running to be noticed

UK will also have an open competition at running back. Junior JoJo Kemp, sophomores Mikel Horton and Boom Williams, along with true freshman Sihiem King will all get their shot at starting.

Williams was the leader of the group last season, rushing for 486 yards and five touchdowns, with three of those touchdowns over 50 yards.

Stoops said that none of the backs have jumped out to earn the spot and have lacked consistency, but he isn’t in a rush to name a starter.

“We’re not really worried about it right now,” Stoops said. “It is important to them to earn a starting position but they have plenty of opportunities. They have about 29 practices to see who works out and who trots out there first.”