By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops offered a variety of roster updates after Friday’s practice from the return of Za’Darius Smith to practice to the transfer of Patrick Graffree to Max Godby earning a scholarship and more.
— Smith, a defensive end, had been out with an ankle injury. “He looked good. Really good. He won’t be far behind. No, he won’t. We’ll get him caught up. He’ll be fine,” said Stoops. “He looked good. He’s been close. He did have a high-ankle sprain, and those are very touchy. Even when you’re feeling good, you get in there and start pushing on people and it’s a little bit hairy. So we feel like he’s made good progress and feels pretty good right now.”
— Graffree announced on Twitter he was transferring to Eastern Kentucky. The defensive tackle redshirted last year and Stoops said there could “possibly” be other transfers. He also acknowledged Graffree “would’ve had a hard time getting some playing time” with UK’s depth at tackle.
“That’s what I heard today when I was in practice. We wish Patrick the best. You can’t ask for a better person. I’ve really learned to appreciate Patrick and all the work he’s done for us, and I wish him nothing but the best,” Stoops said. “We had a talk with a lot of guys when we got through camp (about) where we were at. So he may not have been happy with that. I understand that. I don’t want to get into detail on that, but I do wish him the best.”
— Godby came into camp in a battle for the starting center spot with Zach Myers, who has been injured, and Zach West, who has now moved back to guard where he started last year. He not only went on scholarship, but Stoops says he is the “leader” at center now. Stoops noted that Godby was “excited” about the scholarship news. “He looked emotional and you feel good about that. He’s worked awfully hard, and he deserves it. We’re excited to give him one,” Stoops said. “I think the kids really respect him. He’s done a nice job.”
— Receiver Rashad Cunningham is academically ineligible this season. He was one of only four returning receivers. He will continue to practice with the team.
— Junior Demarco Robinson will be the team’s No. 1 punt returner. “He’s just been steady back there. Ryan (Timmons)’s done a nice job. When we were in the stadium, he muffed a few. So we feel good with Demarco,” Stoops said. “Coach (Bradley Dale) Peveto has done a great job (with special teams). We’ve put an awful lot of time into it, so hopefully we’ll see some results.”
— Joe Mansour seems to have won the kicking job. “Joe has made two — when we’ve done two-minute drill in the stadium in scrimmage-like situations — he’s hit two 50-(yard) plus to win the game, to win the scrimmage, to win that situation. So with the pressure on, everybody watching him, he’s hit two over 50. I like that. I thought that was good.”
— Stoops would not offer any update on the status of cornerback Cody Quinn’s ankle injury.
— The coach said he feels good about six players in the offensive line. “We’ve got a six, seven-guy rotation. We’ll have to move some guys around. If we get an injury, it’s not just necessarily that the two deep across the board. We’ll go with the next best player,” Stoops said.
— He said the secondary is getting better and more consistent. “We’ve had some situations where I’ve been disappointed. A few scrimmages, a few practices where I felt like we regressed, but overall they’re improving.”