The Kentucky Wildcats’ coaching staff is confident about their team, and it showed on media day.
However, that was before the first week of fall camp and two-a-days, and before injuries and the unrelenting heat of the late Bluegrass summer.
The positive vibes continued all week, though.
Below are the main things to know from UK's week on the gridiron.
Drew Barker Looks Like A New Man
Saturday was a good day for Kentucky's quarterbacks and wide receivers.
Mark Stoops was pleased.
“It was good to see some competitive plays today. Guys that were covered and they forced it in there and made good plays", he said.
Perhaps the prettiest ball of the day belonged to second-string QB Drew Barker.
One of the better catches today during UK's Fan Day practice... Drew Barker the nice pass, but Charles Walker makes the fantastic grab pic.twitter.com/r7tYG2Wejk— Steve Moss (@smosswkyt) August 5, 2017
On a deep route designed to go to Charles Walker, Barker floated an absolute bomb that Walker snagged with a highlight reel worthy catch.
It was a sweet moment for the Kentucky native and former starter coming off of back surgery.
Barker made good decisions all practice long and threw the ball in a way reminiscent of his phenomenal first half against Southern Miss during last fall's opener.
Stoops had high praise for Barker following practice.
"He looks very confident and stronger, can make all the throws again. Last time we saw him in the spring, he wasn’t quite 100 percent, and he was tentative like you would expect. He had a major surgery that he dealt with a lot of plays. The last time I saw him, he wasn’t the same as he is now. It’s really nice to see him out there strong, confident and just going through practice.”
Frosh Wideouts Ali and Epps Are Impressing
On Tuesday, Kentucky's first full day of practice in pads, Head Coach of the Offense Eddie Gran sounded off on which freshman has impressed him so far.
Included in his answer: Joshua Ali and Isiah Epps.
So what kind of players are the two?
True freshman Josh Ali making a push to crack the receiver rotation... nice second-effort today on this catch during Fan Day practice pic.twitter.com/LXSWiN3btt— Steve Moss (@smosswkyt) August 5, 2017
Well according to Gran the two are similar in what they bring to the table.
"We’re keeping them both outside. They’re tall enough; they’re fast enough", he said.
Mark Stoops echoed similar sentiments later in the week.
"They’ve been strong; they’ve been very good. They’re what we’re looking for. They’re guys who can run; they make competitive plays", Stoops said.
Quinton Bohanna is Turning Heads
One player that surprised the coaching staff during the first week of camp is redshirt freshman Quinton Bohanna.
The mammoth 320-pound defensive lineman is a player that defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc wants to "throw in the fire and see what he can do."
With many question marks surrounding the defensive line a breakout player is nothing but good news for the coaching staff, and as a result of his hard work Bohanna earned reps with the second team this week.
Mark Stoops said this about Bohanna on Saturday: "I’m pleased with what he can do athletically. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s tough. It’s very important to him. He has shown up. He definitely will be a guy that we’re gonna start forcing into the two-deep."
Lynn Bowden Finally Put His Pads On
The highest rated player in Kentucky's 2017 recruiting was not cleared to play when Coach Mark Stoops spoke to the press last Sunday.
After photos had surfaced online early Saturday of Bowden heading into the Joe Craft Football Training Facility and his subsequent appearance at practice, Stoops confirmed the good news.
“Yeah. Lynn is good to go. We got cleared yesterday, late afternoon", he said.
Bowden took snaps with the punt return team early in the open practice and later ran routes with the the wide receivers.
It was a relatively quiet debut, which according to Stoops is part of the plan.
“He'll do what he can handle. We've got to bring him along. He's missed some days. He can't install everything. Nobody can handle that, so we've got to go to day one install and feed him a little bit, yes.”
On Saturday, Coach Stoops made it a point to mention this was his team's sixth straight day of practice, complete with two-a-days.
Injuries are expected during the season as well during preseason camp, and "We're a little banged up," Stoops admitted.
Junior cornerback Derrick Baity rolled his ankle during Friday's practice and was in a boot on Saturday. However, the injury is a regular sprain and Baity will be okay after a few days rest.
Linebacker Eli Brown "has a little hammy that he tweaked," and other unnamed Wildcats did not practice due to injury.
A look at some of today's action from UK's Fan Day thanks to our own Warren Taylor.Posted by A Sea of Blue on Saturday, August 5, 2017
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