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By LARRY VAUGHT
Clay County defensive lineman Jacob Hyde got a bit worried when Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was named Kentucky’s new coach. Hyde was the first in-state player to verbally commit to Kentucky and didn’t know if his commitment would be honored by Stoops.
“Not knowing what was going to happen with the coach was hard,” said Hyde, who will play in the National Guard Border Bowl Jan. 12 against the Tennessee all-stars. “I did not commit to a coaching staff. I committed to the university. When coach Stoops was hired, I was freaking out. I didn’t know if he would honor my scholarship or not.”
That was quickly taken care of when Stoops called to assure Hyde that he had a future at Kentucky and kept Hyde from having any reason to panic Sunday at Stoops’ introductory press conference when he said only commits that were the “right fit” for his system would have scholarship offers honored.
“It’s all good for me,” Hyde, who talked to Stoops 48 hours after he was hired, said. “Like he said, you have to fit his system to keep the scholarship offer and just knowing he believes so strong in me and will honor my commitment so that I can fulfill my childhood dreams. It is a blessing for me.
“Coach Stoops seems like an upfront guy. He doesn’t beat around a bunch. He is the type of coach Kentucky needs. Someone to grab the bull by the honors and turn the program around. I am excited that he can do that.”
Hyde figures he’ll get to meet new defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot when he takes his official visit next month.
“It shocked me that a coaching change had to be made. It hurts seeing coach (Joker) Philllips leave, but I’m glad he got another job (as receivers coach at Florida),” Hyde said. “I have known him since my sophomore year. He was a big reason I wanted to be part of the team. It hurts that he is gone, but you have to go on.
“The fans around here can’t wait to see me in this program and see what coach Stoops does. Everything around here is very positive about UK football right now. I know it will be good playing there. Things have changed, but I’m still excited about playing at Kentucky and excited to have coach Stoops as my coach.”