By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman linebackers Jared Casey and J.J. Weaver, both of Louisville, may get a chance to play for Kentucky when the Wildcats host Missouri Saturday night.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops indicated last week that both had improved and added to that Monday.
“They both have some really good talent and, you know, just like most freshmen, I think they probably get a little discouraged because they feel like they’re not playing (in games), so the consistency isn’t there or the urgency in practice all the time,” Stoops said.
“But you see the flashes of it and the ability, so we have to continue to, with young people, too, you can’t take away their hope. They got to have some hope. ”
NCAA rules now permit players to participate in four games and still receive a redshirt year. Timing could be perfect for one or both to play this year — and has Stoops indicated certainly would make both highly-touted players happier. Considering one Louisville high school player recently de-committed from UK and another freshman from Louisville left the UK football team, the timing of playing both might also ease some of the Louisville paranoia.
“That’s where with this rule and the ability to play in four games I think helps them down the stretch. And we need them because we’re starting to get banged up. So I’ve seen them do some really good things but I also see them being inconsistent at times like most freshmen,” Stoops said.
With only five games left on the regular-season schedule, Kentucky is in position to redshirt the entire freshman class — something Stoops has never been able to do.
“It is a big deal. It’s important. It helps develop your class. You look at those guys. And just for this question, go back and look at last year’s team and how experienced they were and how old they are and mature. It makes a big difference in this league,” Stoops said.
“It makes a big difference for us because development is important. And sometimes you don’t want to get guys when they’re just really playing at a high level and then they’re gone. If they’re good enough to play in the NFL they will go anyway. So it is important. ”