By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kentucky’s 2017 football signing class was finalized, Kentucky Sports Radio recruiting analyst Freddie Maggard felt that the Cats got a steal in Ohio running back Bryant Koback.
“Kentucky was fortunate that he got injured (broken leg) during his senior year. If not, then other offers would have come in like crazy for him,” Maggard said then. “He’s a highly productive player. I think he plays as a true freshman. He’s a speedster. He can catch the ball. He’s tough to tackle. He’s going to be really good.”
Maggard was wrong about him playing as a true freshman because his leg injury did not allow him to play. Once his freshman season ended, he decided to transfer in large part because of a health issue in his family. However, UK and coach Mark Stoops initially said he could not transfer to Toledo or Eastern Michigan, two teams on UK’s schedule this year.
Stoops eventually changed his mind and Koback did transfer to Toledo where he rushed for 940 yards and 14 touchdowns last year after he was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately after Stoops dropped his objections to the transfer.
Stoops knows Koback, a sophomore, will be extra energized to play against Kentucky and some of his former teammates Saturday in the season-opening game for both teams.
“They definitely can rely on Bryant,” Stoops said Monday. “Koback, he’s a good football player, rushed for darn near a thousand yards a year ago there. They have great balance. I’m sure they’re looking for the same thing this year.”
The Kentucky coach also said Monday he had no regrets about the way the transfer played out. At the time, he said he granted Koback permission to transfer to any school after he finally had a chance to meet face-to-face with the player.
“I think it worked out very, very smooth, seamless. Those are difficult situations. As I mentioned many times, you have to look at each situation individually,” Stoops said. “That’s why there’s so much discussion about it, because everything is not always black and white.
“There’s different issues, different circumstances with somebody’s desire to transfer. I think that’s why you see strong opinions on that issue on both sides, because they’re different.”