football-fbs flag

David Brandt | The Associated Press | July 17, 2014

UK's Stoops looks to turn talent into wins

HOOVER, Ala. -- Mark Stoops has established that Kentucky can bring in highly-rated recruits.

Now the Wildcats' second-year coach is trying to turn that added talent into a few more victories.

Stoops is still looking for his first victory in the Southeastern Conference following a 2-10 season in 2013, including an 0-8 mark in conference.

FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS SCHEDULE

DATE EVENT
July 14-17 SEC Media Days
July 20-21 ACC Media Days
July 21-22 Big 12 Media Days
July 22 Sun Belt Media Day
July 22-23 Mountain West Media Days
July 23 C-USA Media Day
July 23 MAC Media Day
July 23-24 Pac-12 Media Days
July 28-29 Big Ten Media Days
July 28-29 American Athletic Media Days
Stoops said on Thursday at the SEC's media days that the Wildcats are "physically better" and that "hopefully that will translate to more wins."

Kentucky returns 15 starters from last season, including seven on offense and eight on defense. But there is still some uncertainty at quarterback with Patrick Towles, Maxwell Smith, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker battling for the job.

"I know everybody's asked a lot about our quarterback situation," Stoops said. "We're still unsettled on who the starter is going to be. But I'm very confident that we're going to improve at that position. It starts with the players around him."

Smith threw for 1,276 yards last season, but missed all of spring workouts because of a shoulder injury.

The 6-foot-3, 216-pound Barker is one of the many highly-rated recruits that Stoops has coaxed to Kentucky with his first two recruiting classes. Both Rivals and Scout ranked the Wildcats' most recent class in the nation's top 20.

Kentucky does have some returning talent, especially along the defensive line. Seniors Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith return after productive season. The 6-foot-4, 264-pound Dupree had 9 1/2 tackles for a loss, including seven sacks, last season.

"Bud is extremely versatile," Stoops said. "He's very good with his hand in the dirt playing defensive end, but you can also stand him up and move him around a little bit in the 3-4 and play some linebacker. Very versatile player. Very instinctive."

But it's undoubtedly the young players on the roster that will eventually decide whether this Kentucky program can become competitive in the SEC's Eastern Division. The Wildcats have a 16-game losing streak in conference games.

"The recruiting, you know, it's awfully important to us," Stoops said. "That's where it starts. You've got to have great players."

Stoops' ability to recruit and a boost in home attendance have already helped him earn a contract extension that runs through 2018.

Related:
• SEC Media Days schedule
• College football tickets

College basketball rankings: Louisville No. 1 in Katz's Power 36

The Cardinals took down Michigan and Jordan Nwora continues to look like an All-American. That's reason enough to jump the Cardinals to the top stop in this week's volatile Power 36 college basketball rankings from Andy Katz.
READ MORE

Kentucky basketball schedule 2019-20: Dates, times, opponents, results

After competing to the wire in the SEC tournament final and 30 wins later, Kentucky’s 2018 season ended in the Elite Eight following a loss to Auburn, extending the Wildcats’ Final Four drought to four years. With six consecutive appearances into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, can Kentucky break through to the Final Four for the first time since 2015?
READ MORE

Here are the 32 automatic qualifiers in the 2019 NCAA women's volleyball championship

Thirty-two conference champions gained automatic qualification into the 2019 NCAA DI women's volleyball championship field, which will be announced Sunday, Dec. 1. Here's one thing to know about each auto bid.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners