By LARRY VAUGHT
As strong as Mark Stoops hopes his 2018 recruiting class will be, the coach got an even bigger boost when starting linebackers Josh Allen, Denzil Ware and Jordan Jones all decided to remain at Kentucky for their senior seasons.
Each toyed with the idea of entering the NFL draft before opting to stay at UK.
“It was very important. It’s most important. I don’t want to say it’s the most important recruiting pitch because I don’t look at it like that. I’m not going to make their decision for them,” Stoops said Wednesday.
“just want to make sure I give them accurate information. I worked very hard to get in front of them several times before the bowl game, after the bowl game. Talked with a lot of people, got them accurate information and let them make the best decision. I really thought some guys made some mature decisions. I talked to them about who in the world wouldn’t want to go and make money and play in the NFL or the NBA, any other sport? Who wouldn’t want to do that?
“But they have to make sure they get the accurate information on when to go. I think all the kids get excited. Sometimes just any opportunity is not the best opportunity. ”
Stoops said he believed Allen would have made a NFL roster but hopes returning will benefit him like it did Bud Dupree, now a starter with the Steelers.
“I thought he (Allen) was extremely mature in his decision making. He and I had some long talks. Gotten to know Josh and become close to him through this process. He was very mature in his decision making,” Stoops said.
Stoops said Allen is training now to make his “body elite” going into his fourth and final season at UK.
“Right now with his weight lifting, his training, you can see it already, he’s holding that weight very easy. He looks phenomenal. He’s going to continue to work at all aspects of his game, his pass-rushing, being elite, beating the best players that he faces, getting sacks, pressuring people against the best tackles in the country. He’s going to have an opportunity to do that,” Stoops said.
“I think those are the things that he needs to work on, just his complete game, his maturity level. He knows what it takes to go through our season in the SEC. Now go through, what do they play, 18, 19, whatever they play, it’s a long time depending on playoffs and all that. It’s a long season. I think he looked at it like that as far as his maturity level, whether he could withstand that at this point.”
Ware was suspended for the Music City Bowl, but Stoops said Wednesday he’s back fully participating in team evenys “at this point in time.”
Jones also had some late season issues with personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in games.
“He’s got to continue to do things right and continue to be consistent. We all love Jordan 95 percent of the time. We can’t have that five percent. He can’t have that five percent,” Stoops said.
“He has a very positive, infectious personality, but he also can tear down things at times, as well, and deter from the positive things that are going on. He knows that. He’s working at that. ”