Kentucky is just slightly over three weeks away from their Citrus Bowl date with Penn State.
Despite having not played a game since their 56-10 win over the Louisville Cardinals on November 24th, there has been a lot of news to come out of the Kentucky football program.
Many players have been named to All-American and All-SEC teams, Josh Allen has racked up multiple defensive player of the year awards and announced he will play in the Citrus Bowl, the rival Cardinals hired a new coach, and two in-state four-star players committed while one de-committed.
Today, head coach Mark Stoops met with the media to discuss some of these topics.
Stoops was happy to be back in Lexington as his team was together for the first time since the Governor’s Cup.
“Great to be back on the practice field today,” Stoops said following Kentucky’s first bowl practice. “The kids have a bunch of enthusiasm.”
The biggest news in recent weeks is of course Kentucky earning a bid to the Citrus Bowl to take on Penn State of the Big Ten conference.
To be on the same level as a program like Penn State was something Stoops made sure to point out as a big accomplishment for his Wildcats.
“Proud of that,” Stoops said about earning a New Year’s Day game. “Honored to play Penn State on New Year’s Day and it’s going to be an exciting time.”
When asked about the No. 12 ranked Nittany Lions, Stoops admitted he had yet to watch film on them but has watched them play on television this season.
“You see them, and they obviously jump out at you a very talented football team. Penn State has a rich history and they recruit at a high level every year.”
As for the recruiting trail, Stoops could not say much as four-star Kentucky pledges JJ Weaver, Jared Casey, and the former Kentucky turned Nebraska pledge Wandale Robinson have not signed at their respective schools. However, he did express that the recruiting process for 2019 has been a positive one thus far despite losing Robinson.
“It’s been a lot of fun, it’s been good,” Stoops said. “Very positive vibes out there and very proud of the work we have done and the coaches have done.”
Thirteen days after facing a Lorenzo Ward led Louisville team, Stoops got the chance to talk about his new in-state rival coaching rival in the Cardinals new head coach Scott Satterfield.
“I don’t,” Stoops said when if he knew Satterfield. “Everything I’ve heard is a good person and good coach. I don’t really know him at all, to be honest with you.”
As for some of Kentucky’s juniors that may leave a year early for the NFL, Stoops confirmed he had given NFL draft information to juniors Benny Snell and Logan Stenberg.
Mark Stoops says he’s provided NFL draft information to Juniors Benny Snell and Logan Stenberg. No word on if either will return for their senior seasons. Also said 11 seniors have a chance to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/iThDlMzqqB— Aaron Gershon (@agershon99) December 7, 2018
As for his team’s seniors, Stoops said that an estimated 11-12 seniors have a chance to be drafted after meetings with NFL scouts.
One of those is, of course, Josh Allen.
Stoops and Allen just returned from a week of award shows. This week alone, Allen was named SEC defensive player of the year, the Bednarik Award winner, and the Nagurski award winner.
Today, Allen made more news by saying he will indeed play in the Citrus Bowl.
“Says a lot about who he is,” Stoops said of the decision. “I told him nobody would judge him if he didn’t play, that his legacy was set. I wanted him to decide based on what was in his heart. We respect him that much.”
Stoops went on to say that no player had told him they would sit out the bowl game.
Not only did Allen bring home big time awards, but Stoops did as well as he was named the SEC Coach of the Year.
Stoops stayed humble when talking about the honor saying, “I accept that on behalf of everyone in our organization. Those people are doing a great job. Greatly appreciate them.”
It’s been an eventful few weeks, but the Wildcats are back at it and poised to get their 10th win when they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2019 Citrus Bowl on January 1st.