Tate Leavitt: “I just have to get better”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tate Leavitt came to Kentucky hailed as the solution for UK’s left tackle dilemma. However, the junior college transfer came out of spring practice No. 2 behind former walk-on Cole Mosier and is still in that spot — with true freshman Landon Young No. 3 — in preseason camp.

“I would not say it was harder than I thought. It was what I expected. I just have to get better. I have high expectations for myself and I just have one way to go,” he said. “I have more technique work to do. Little things with my footwork, little things not opening my hips to let the defensive man get to the edge.”

Landon Young gives mom passing grade on radio interview

Angie Young and Landon Young

Angie Young and Landon Young

By LARRY VAUGHT

A few days after she attended the Kentucky Football Women’s Clinic, Angie Young joined me on The Leach Report to talk about that and her son, UK freshman offensive lineman Landon Young.

She insisted not only was she nervous, but she did not want to embarrass her son.

So how did she do?

“I thought she did really good. I was proud of her. She didn’t stumble too much and I didn’t think she was as nervous as she thought she would be,” said Landon Young.

UK’s defensive line now even bigger question mark

Mark Stoops won't have fun replacing Regie Meant. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Mark Stoops won’t have fun replacing Regie Meant. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Perhaps the biggest question mark on the Kentucky football team going into this season would be the defensive line. Even coach Mark Stoops knows that.

“We need certain groups to step up, in particular the defensive line,” Stoops said Monday.

Then he had to announce why that suddenly is harder — defensive lineman Regie Meant is out indefinitely for personal reasons and Stoops has no idea if he will rejoin the team this year or not.

Regie Meant out indefinitely for personal reasons

By GUY RAMSEY, UK Athletics

The Kentucky football team reported for fall camp only four days ago, but the Wildcats aren’t wasting any time getting their feet under them.
“It’s been good,” head coach Mark Stoops said. “Been good work. Things are moving fast. We have a lot in on both sides of the ball. It just goes to show you that we did a lot of work in the summer. Not as many mental mistakes, the ball is not on the ground as much, we’re learning how to practice. Still being super competitive and physical, but practicing very smart.”
That continued into Monday, when UK turned in yet another solid morning practice.
“I liked the practice,” Stoops said. “It was a good, competitive practice. Both sides did some good things. Both sides were sloppy at times. In general we’re competing. Guys are flying around. Good physical day.”
Early returns in fall camp are good, but Stoops isn’t about to stop challenging his team. With the season opener now less than four weeks away, there’s too much still to do for the Cats to let up.
“We got a lot of work in the past couple of days and I’m pleased with where we’re at,” Stoops said. “Have a lot more to go. Have to continue to build some depth in certain areas. There’s no getting around that. We need certain groups to step up, in particular the defensive line.”
It was no accident that Stoops named the defensive line, as the unit has taken a hit with news announced Monday. Senior defensive tackle Regie Meant will be out indefinitely for personal reasons. Stoops was unsure whether Meant – who had 31 tackles and a sack last season – will return to the team, leaving it to those previously behind him on the depth chart to step up.
“Alvonte (Bell) is a big guy, Courtney Miggins as we talked about,” Stoops said. “We’ll bring some guys along. Kengera (Daniel) needs to really develop. He’s a guy that needs to step up and improve.”
UK also has a talented group of first-year defensive linemen – Ja’Quize Cross, Kordell Looney and T.J. Carter – who will be called on to contribute.
“They’re going to have to,” Stoops said. “They’re good players. They’re a long ways off right now but they’re good players. They’re what you want and what you look for. We needed a good solid d-line class. We have one in this group. We have to bring them along a little bit. How much they can help us — I don’t know yet.”
Long to transfer
Stoops announced on Monday that tight end Darryl Long will transfer. With developing depth at his position, Long is leaving to pursue more playing time. Stoops announced on Saturday that cornerback Jared Tucker was doing the same.

Stoops knows Drew Barker has ability to make plays

Drew Barker at Fan Day Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker at Fan Day Saturday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

While Mark Stoops likes what he has seen from backup quarterback Stephen Johnson — “He brings a little different skill set at times” — there is no doubt he is sold on Drew Barker as his starter going into his sophomore season.

“You saw flashes in Drew from day one. I was there in high school and watched him play. The game I was there, it was a back-and-forth game. You just saw him have that ability to create plays. Those are things that I was talking about earlier that you have to have some special players with instincts, that make things happen,” Stoops said.

Bob Jones learned harsh lesson about racism after loss at LSU

By LARRY VAUGHT

Want to know what it was like to be a black football player in the Southeastern Conference at the University of Kentucky 50 years ago?

Well, just ask Bob Jones.

He’s a former Kentucky placekicker who was on the Kentucky team when the Wildcats had players breaking the color barrier.

“What we saw them go through and endure … we shared their pain,” said Jones. “They even had some issues with players on the team that I was not aware of for years.

“But we were not thinking about history being made. We were just trying to win football games.”

Eddie Gran doesn’t need a cheerleader as a leader

Eddie Gran (Vicky Graff Photo)

Eddie Gran (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Drew Barker does not have to be the leader of Kentucky’s offense. Just ask offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.

“I don’t need a cheerleader. I just need somebody that when he talks, people listen,” Gran said.  “He can do that in practice without being a cheerleader.

“My point was that from Sunday through Friday, is to stress our offense as much as we can, so on Saturday it’s easier. They’re going to see somebody that doesn’t get too high or too low. I’ve got to figure out how to get him in rhythm when he’s not in rhythm. I’ve got to spend my time doing that, not being a cheerleader. That’s how I’ve done it and it’s worked well. It might not be Drew, in that shape or form.

UK linebacker has “Love” for coach Matt House

Matt House

Matt House

By LARRY VAUGHT

Matt House has plenty of coaching experience. He spent four years on NFL coaching staffs. In the collegiate ranks, he coached three years at Pittsburgh, including two as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach. Twice Pitt went to bowl games.

Last season he was the defensive coordinator at Florida International. Now he is on Mark Stoops’ staff at Kentucky and will be coaching linebackers.

Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love was recruited by House when he was at Pitt. He knows what to expect from UK’s new coach.

Barnhart pleased with Stoops’ recruiting, energy

Mitch Barnhart (Vicky Graff Photo)

Mitch Barnhart (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Two years ago when Kentucky got off to a blistering start, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart gave coach Mark Stoops a midseason contract extension. Yet he’s still waiting for Stoops to get Kentucky to a bowl game.

“Clearly we want to continue to recruit and be at a level of bringing people into our program that give us a chance to succeed. Mark has done that. He and the staff have recruited at a high level for us, some of the highest recruiting classes that we’ve ever had in the history of the program,” Barnhart said.

Bob Jones to join us on WLAP at 10:30 to talk UK football

Bob Jones and Denzil Ware

Bob Jones and Denzil Ware

By LARRY VAUGHT

Mark Stoops invited former Kentucky football players to Commonwealth Stadium to be not only part of Fan Day, but to tour the new training facility, eat with the team, meet with athletics director Mitch Barnhart and watch a closed practice.

One of those former players who attended was Bob Jones, a Kentucky native who now lives in Florida. Jones will join us on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports at 10:30 to share his insights.

First, Kentucky sophomore Denzil Ware went to high school where Jones was principal and Jones has been a mentor for him.