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Mark Stoops jokes that former Cats on EKU staff will try to ‘rip our eyeballs out’

Two former Kentucky football players and one former coaching staff member will make a return to Lexington but on the EKU coaching staff.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 12 Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the upcoming game between the Kentucky Wildcats and EKU Colonels happening on Saturday, there are some staff members on EKU who share a connection to Kentucky.

Walt Wells, who is currently the EKU head coach, was a quality control analyst for two seasons at UK, while being coached by Mark Stoops. The other two staff members making a return to Lexington are Maxwell Smith and C.J. Conrad.

During Wells’ time at Kentucky, he helped both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Offensive line coach John Schlarman was battling a deadly form of cancer, and Wells would step in and help with the line when Schlarman couldn’t.

Not only did Wells help with the offensive line, but he also was the advanced scout on the defensive side for Brad White. His other job responsibility was to be the sounding board for head coach Mark Stoops. Although Wells’ stint was short, he believed that he needed Kentucky at the time.

“I got to Kentucky at a time that I needed Kentucky more than Kentucky needed me,” Wells said.

Even with his short stint at Kentucky, he did a lot to impact the program in his two short seasons here.

Now to Smith, who was one of the quarterbacks for Kentucky, where he helped to throw for nearly 1,300 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception during his time under Stoops. He only played in nine games under Stoops due to injuries.

Smith helped Kentucky notch two wins in 2013, then transferred to San Diego State for his last year. Smith eventually returned to Kentucky as a graduate assistant but is now on EKU’s staff.

As for Conrad, he began his journey at Kentucky, where he played tight end for the university from 2015-18. Once he graduated, Conrad became a graduate assistant and analyst for three years while at Kentucky.

During Conrad’s playing career at Kentucky, he had 80 receptions for over 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, which is No. 2 for the most touchdowns by a tight end at Kentucky. Many people will always remember him for the game-winning touchdown he had at Missouri.

But don’t think Stoops is getting too sentimental this week. During his Monday press conference, Stoops joked that the former Cats will be ready to gouge some eyes out this week.

“I’ll enjoy seeing those guys, but the focus will be there on all sides. They’re competitors, believe me, you ask them, and I know they love UK and have strong relationships on this staff, but I expect them to want to go in there and try to rip our eyeballs out,” Stoops said.

Although they’re no longer a part of the staff, it’s going to be nice to see some familiar faces back in Lexington for the game.