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By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson admits his first year as a student assistant coach with the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†program has been a bit of an adjustment for him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was definitely different. Obviously it has been a transition going from the playing field to the sideline coaching,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Woodson. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love it, though. I still get the itch to get out there and compete sometimes, so I have to guard against that since IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am coaching and trying to help the quarterbacks, not compete with them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to help them understand their checks they can get in and out of and get them on the same page with coaches like (quarterback) coach (Randy) Sanders did for me and try to make them better players. It is a totally different role for me, but I truly do love it and think it is a calling for me and something I will continue to pursue. I want to be a coach.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Woodson, who is completing his degree work, cannot work with the players during the summer months. They are off limits to him just like they are other UK coaches. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not allowed to mess with them. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have the same rules to follow as the other coaches,Ã¢â‚¬Â Woodson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would love to work as much as possible with them and really get those guys mechanically prepared for the upcoming season, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†understand the guidelines I have to operate under.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Are you the good guy on the coaching staff or are you young enough to get away with really being hard on the players?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I try to do both. I try to be a good guy and pat them on the back. I try to relate on them. With me and coach Sanders playing the same position, we can relate to quarterbacks and know what they are seeing and what is going through their minds. I try to be the guy to calm them down. I want them to tell me what they are seeing and let me help them get on the same page. If they make a dumb mistake, I get after them. But I try more to be the guy to pat them on the back and relate to them and build them up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you think junior Morgan Newton views you more as a coach or as a former Kentucky starting quarterback?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is hard to tell what he thinks. Just think that I came out (of Kentucky) a year before he came in. My name is still pretty fresh with his age group. I have not been gone that long. It is hard for me to tell if he is listening to me as a former quarterback or understands I am coaching now. He is listening to me. He is doing a great job doing all I ask or letting me mess around with his mechanics and his balance. He is always willing to just listen to the coaching we are giving him. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have not seen be a difference of him not showing respect to me just like he does coach Sanders. I would expect him to listen to coach sanders more, but I expect him to allow me to coach him as well and he has been great doing that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What are your impressions of freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith, who enrolled at UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†in January after not playing during the 2010 season?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Max has one of those special gifts. His passes literally go wherever he wants them to go. He can put the ball on the right shoulder. He leads receivers properly. He has something we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t coach and that is accuracy. He has to continue to learn the playbook. He has been in the film room a lot. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been in my office a lot. He comes about every day for an hour and watches film on his own. He challenges himself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think highly of him. I think he has a lot of ability. I am excited to see what he turns into. You can build an offense with him if we get him to learn the playbook. Once things slow down for him, he could be really good. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very surprising he was not recruited by big schools his senior year in high school. He jumped around a couple of schools and was never in one system a long time to get recognized. Fortunately for us, it worked out well for Kentucky. We got a lead on him, took a look and the coaches were really impressed and were able to get him up here. We are all very excited to have him in our program.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Can he legitimately pressure Newton for the starting job in August?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be very difficult, but at the same time he is really doing a great job. He is kind of similar to me. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really calm about everything he does. He does not let anything frustrate him or get to him. He is always pushing himself because he understands what it takes to be a great quarterback. He will not let anything rattle him. He stays calm and it shows in the huddle as well as off the field. Playing that position can be overwhelming and difficult. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the position is not for everybody. I think highly of him. He has tons of ability and this spring he showed a lot of what he can do, but not everything. We have to continue to build on that to get him better and keep him right there ready to play if needed.Ã¢â‚¬Â