By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky hosts Austin Peay Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in its final regular season home game and UK’s seniors will be honored during a ceremony that starts at 3:45.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has shared a lot of thoughts on his senior class this week. Here are some of them.
On Saturday being Senior Day … “The seniors have been very solid. They are great young men to work with. They have been very good leaders. Again, I said it during the tough times this season, I am not for sure we would have grown if we didn’t have strong seniors. There are not very many of them, but they are good players and they mean a lot to me and this program.”
On there being a special connection with this senior class … “Yeah, there is. Those guys took a leap of faith and jumped in at some very tough times and got thrown into some situations where it was very difficult for them and it has been tough. Again, it is nice to see us be in the position that we have been in. We are not always perfect, but we have come a long way and we are never going to look back. I think those guys have been a big piece of that.”
On the seniors helping the underclassmen …. “Yeah, it is and they are setting a good example. The nice thing is, as we move forward and I am not sure I don’t have the numbers right in front of me, but I know the difference will be next year’s senior class I am sure more than double. I want to say in the neighborhood of like 25. I don’t know, one of you guys probably know. There are bunch of seniors next year and then our sophomores will be juniors so our next two classes (are big). That is what you want. You want a bunch of experience and some mature players. I am confident we will continue to push and get better and improve in all areas.”
On receiver Ryan Timmons … “Just like you mentioned, through ups and downs, he has been there and out there working and trying to get better. He has made some big plays for us through the years and this year he has been more consistent. You always have part of you that is really a little bit ticked off because you would love to redshirt these guys, you know? It kills me with Marcus McWilson not having another year and Blake (McClain) and Timmons and so on. All the guys. You are really starting to see all of them playing some good football, in particular Marcus. I would love to get him another year, but we weren’t in that situation.”
On center Jon Toth’s career … “Jon is everything that you look for in a person in your program. He’s an excellent person. A great student. Solid as a rock, he is there every day. I have mentioned it a bunch this season, he always seems to be the first one in the building and the last one to leave. He is just fun to be around. He has meant an awful lot.”
On if he feels the same as seniors who said four years have flown by: “I do. I do. And the guys that are true seniors – obviously the Jon Toths of the world, I wasn’t here to recruit him – but the other guys that came in with us, it really does seem like it was a short time ago that I was sitting in their living room talking about coming here. And it’s gone really fast. Now, mind you, I’ve been beating my head into the wall for the last four years (laughs). I’m getting tired of ramming my head into the wall. But no, we are gonna miss those guys. We really are. They’ve really helped us and they’ve been through some ups and downs, and they’ve been very steady this year and I appreciate them.”