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While there has been no media access to players since Mark Stoops was named head coach, UK did provide quotes from certain players about the hiring. Enjoy.
Question: What about Stoops being a defensive-minded coach?
Landon Foster: “Defensively minded guys really enjoy punting, obviously, because of field position. In high school, my defensive coordinator loved me and he would always take pride in telling me where he wanted the punts to go, which side of the field he wanted me to punt to. I think defensive-minded coaches really care, enjoy and understand the importance of punting and field position. That is obviously exciting.”
Khalid Henderson: “I was very excited, being that I am a freshman and have a lot more years to play here at the University of Kentucky. I felt it was a great opportunity for me to have a more defensive-minded coach that can help me out in the long run.”
Avery Williamson: “Yeah, it is kind of exciting. I know that he is going to be a really aggressive. I am excited to see what his coaching style is and what he brings to the table.”
Question: What was your first impression of the hire?
A.J. Legree: “My home state is Florida and growing up my cousin (Kendyll Pope) played for the Seminoles and I was a Seminoles fan, so I was kind of excited. I know some guys from there like Timmy Jernigan (defensive tackle at Florida State), but I haven’t really called or texted them asking how he is. I want it to be a surprise. I just want to soak it all in and work hard like I did last season.”
Maxwell Smith: “I was surprised, in a good way. I didn’t really expect that and I think it is a good answer for our team. I have heard a lot about him and heard a lot about his defenses so I thought it would be a good fit for us. I watched a lot of Pac-12 football being from California, so I know a lot about that defense. I have watched a lot of football in general, so I know a lot about his defense. I know his brothers some and I was recruited by his brother (Mike) some at Arizona and got to meet his brother there.”
Patrick Towles: “I have never met (coach Stoops) but from what I hear he is a very enthusiastic guy and very, very passionate, which is what I think we need around here. We need a guy that is going to come in and not take any nonsense and going to get us to start winning football games.”
Williamson: “I started to look into it and got really excited. He is a great defensive coordinator and he has a great defense down there. I feel good about the pick.”
Jalen Whitlow: “My high school teammate (who plays at Florida State) said that he loves him and all the guys love him and that he is a good guy and good coach. I am excited for him to get here and try to get some wins and get to a bowl game next year.”
Henderson: “I know about the Stoops family overall and some of the similar coaching styles. Based upon the defense he ran at other places it is a very exciting defense and they fly around a lot.”
Question: What has athletics director Mitch Barnhart told the team the last few days?
Foster: “Just to continue what we are doing academically and just continue to work hard in the classroom and in the weight room. Obviously, everyone is excited about Coach Stoops coming and he is excited, too. He wants that to carry on in the weight room and classroom as well.”
Legree: “Just to stay positive and work hard.”
Smith: “The message was just to let us know what he (coach Stoops) is about. He wanted to make sure that we stayed on top of our grades.”
Whitlow: “He just polished us up on getting good grades and staying focused and doing everything we have to do so we are ready. When Coach Stoops comes in we need to be ready to work.”
Williamson: “To expect an up-tempo and really aggressive style of coaching and be ready to work hard because that is the type of guy that Coach Stoops is.”
Question: What is the mood of the team like now that there is a new head coach?
Legree: “The guys are looking at it as we are making a transition right now. The guys are focused on getting better and working out and finishing this semester right. We are excited.”
Towles: “I would say that last week we were all just waiting patiently for a decision. When we heard who the coach was going to be there was definitely a since of excitement and anxiousness to meet him. Now it is go time. Now, we know what the future holds and we have to work as hard as we can to be productive.”
Whitlow: “Everybody is up and intense and ready to get started. We are ready for a fresh start.”
Question: It is nice to have the roller coaster emotions of the last three weeks over?
Towles: “It has been a roller coaster, that is for sure. Like you said, a couple three weeks ago is when we found out that Coach Phillips wouldn’t return next season and that was emotional. We really do still love him and we wish the best for him. The win here at Senior Night was awesome to send these guys out of Lexington with a win. Yesterday, finding out who our head coach was going to be next year just really excited me. It should really excite the fans, too.”
Williamson: “I am glad that we got a win for coach Phillips on his last home game and for the seniors as well. This has been a rocky season with a lot of stuff happening, ups and down and different emotions.”
Question: What will it be like to finally meet Stoops?
Towles: “I think excitement. First impressions are everything and we are super excited to have him here to join us in an effort to compete to get to Atlanta (for the SEC championship game).”
Whitlow: “We are excited, of course. Very excited. We are ready for a change, ready to get started and ready to beat some teams next year.”
Williamson: “I really don’t know, I am just excited to see what it is going to be like.”