QB Stephen Johnson “knows exactly where he stands” at UK

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)

Stephen Johnson (Vicky Graff Photo)


When Mark Stoops was recently asked about the perception that a Southeastern Conference school would recruit a junior college player only for immediate help, he said was not sure that was true — and obviously is not when it comes to UK quarterback Stephen Johnson.

Johnson transferred to UK in January and came out of spring practice No. 2 behind sophomore Drew Barker.

“Any junior-college player that we recruit, certainly we would not be recruiting that position if we didn’t feel like there was a great opportunity for that player to be the starter but nothing is ever guaranteed at any position, junior-college or high school. We have guys that are in your way – the same at that position,” Stoops said.

That doesn’t mean Stoops would rule out Johnson starting or playing next season.

“We certainly have a lot of confidence in Stephen, and I think he did a very good job and was very impressive (in spring practice),” Stoops said. “Stephen will have a role, and he’ll continue to compete.”

Stoops said nothing in the spring surprised Johnson and it will be the same next season.

“Stephen knows exactly where he stands when he came into our program and he knows exactly where he stands now,” Stoops said.


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  1. They were thin on QB’s because two baled on em. They needed another QB with college playing experience, thus Johnson. I think most everybody knew Barker was the heir apparent though because of his own recruitment story, his high ranking in the 2014 class. His turning down South Carolina to sign with UK was big. Stoops had to make it right for Barker. JMO

    1. Every time Barker was on the field, either last season or the Spring game this year all I saw was a the most recent version of Morgan Newton. Big kid, slow footed, with a scatter arm that hit some and miss most. As the latest model of Tim Couch, the Kentucky Boy needs help, a whole lot of help.

      1. PN – (1.) Barker’s time under center in a real game came when Patrick Towles was getting the lion’s share of practice reps. (2.) His under-center game time came with very little QB development time. It can be argued that Morgan Newton didn’t have any of that either but he had a lot of game time to develop himself – which he never did do. It might be just a little early to casting Barker in that mold. My only criticism of the choice of Barker being named starter so early is that he was never really pushed by competition in winning the job. It will be his job to lose; and if the thinks he has some sort of lock on the position and does not push himself, he will lose it. Gunnar Hoak presents a viable option as a QB of the future.

        That said, KY needs wins – period! And they need them now. They need good news coming from the team. The heat on Stoops to produce wins will be starting to get intense if he loses games he should be winning like last year. Contract complications or not, the heat on Barney will pretty much take care of that!. If barker does not perform, Stoops will have nothing to lose at that point and Hoak will get thrown into the shark tank to see how fast he can swim! With KY’s schedule this year, the won – loss record will look bad enough without losing games that we should win.

  2. I for one I am glad Towles left. He did BBN a favor.

  3. I agree with you guys. I think UK lost a good one in Reese Philips though. I think he would still be here if managed differently. But like you said LP, Stoops had to make it right with Barker. I hope Stoops doesn’t end up regretting it.

    1. Reese will get a fair shot playing for Bob Stitt and the Montana Grizzlies. He is a good coach, and an offensive minded coach. Hope Reese does well. He had a pretty decent spring I think, and a fair showing in their spring game. While it is an FCS program, that is a football school. He made a good decision in order to give himself a shot at seeing playing time. Nothing but heartache for him at UK.

  4. I think Gran and Hinshaw will have Barker ready for the breakout season we’ve been waiting for and they’ll work Johnson into the mix to keep defenses honest. Don’t be surprised if this offense lights up the scoreboard this year.

    1. Hope you are right my good friend, its long overdue. Gunnar Hoak might just beat em all out.

  5. Yeah…. gunnar has the right stuff. He has the look in his eyes.

  6. I just re-read where Dean Hood was offered Andy Buh’s job at UK and declined. Just got me to wondering: (1.) has Stoops gotten a negative “rap” in the coaching community? (2.) Maybe Dean Hood just doesn’t think much of the job, which wouldn’t make much sense since he would, I would think, make more at KY than Charlotte and have more recognition. or, (3.) Hey, I live close to Charlotte. Guess what, It’s a happening town! Charlotte 49’rs is on it’s way up and if Hood can be a part of that, He might get another shot at HC at another school….

    Then again, maybe stoops and Hood just simply have no love lost for each other.

    Just sayin’.

    1. My understanding is that Hood had already hired on at Charlotte and was made the assistant head coach. EKU fired a good coach after their 2015 season and hired an unproven Mark Elder to coach the Colonels. Charlotte came calling months ago for Hoods services. Hood is a good man and a man of his word. Don’t think he wanted to crap all over Charlotte to leave for a football program in as much turmoil as UK’s is,and before the ink was even dry on his new contract with the 49er’s. As for how he feels about Stoops, who knows? You make a good point though. I can almost guarantee you Dawson has an opinion about Stoops, and it likely is negative if my guess is right.

      1. Larry pup, you got it right. Hood had signed a contract and bought a house. He values loyalty and did not think it was fair to bail out on Charlotte. Not sure many coaches would take loyalty over more more money, but he did

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