Joe Mussatto/SEC Country
Coach Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football team had an open practice Saturday.

Kentucky football: What we learned from the Wildcats’ open practice

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky held an open football practice Saturday as fans and media alike got their first glimpse of what the Wildcats look like in preseason camp.

The Cats practiced for just under two hours under a perfect early-August sky to wrap up Week 1 of camp. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops fielded questions after practice and recapped what he’s seen through the first several days.

Here’s everything we learned from Kentucky’s open practice.

Lynn Bowden is cleared

Under the No. 1 red practice jersey was No. 1 signee Lynn Bowden. It was no doubt a sight to behold for both Kentucky’s coaching staff and the Wildcats fans who lined the sidelines for the open practice. Bowden didn’t wear shoulder pads and wore a red non-contact jersey.

The prized recruit got the academic clearing he needed from the NCAA.

“Lynn is good to go,” Mark Stoops said Saturday. “We got cleared yesterday, late afternoon. We were able to put him through an individual practice. Today it was his second with no shoulder pads. So he has to go uppers our next practice and then he’ll be good to go.”

Read the rest of the story here

Stephen Johnson bringing the swagger?

Kentucky linebacker Denzil Ware was asked what offensive players were giving the defense trouble so far in camp.

“First and foremost, Stephen Johnson,” Ware said. He then followed up.

“When it comes to things like adversity or a coach is chewing him out real bad, he doesn’t slam the ball,” Ware said of the senior quarterback. “He doesn’t pout or blame a lineman or receiver. He gets up, he says, ‘It’s OK, let’s go again. Let’s do it.’ And he makes the big play.”

Johnson looked sharp in Kentucky’s open practice. He kept the ball on a few misdirection plays and completed a couple of his signature deep balls. But beyond his on-field performance, Johnson is bringing a different swagger heading into his first full season as the Cats’ starter.

A Conor McGregor swagger, according to senior receiver Dorian Baker.

Johnson and junior Drew Barker are competing for the starting quarterback spot, but Johnson said at SEC Media Days he’s been told he’ll start when Kentucky opens the season Sept. 2 at Southern Miss.

Johnson took the majority of the first-team reps Saturday.

Josh Paschal as good as he looks?

Josh Paschal was Kentucky’s top defensive signee, but the true freshman doesn’t have a true freshman look. The outside linebacker is listed at 6-foot-3, 270 pounds and Stoops says there’s more to Paschal than his physique.

“What’s great about Josh is, he has a lot of things going for him,” Stoops said. “He’s physically what you’re looking for, but he’s a great kid, very consciousness. He works hard. He’s a gym rat. He’s one of those guys a lot like Jordan Griffin. He’s in here. Football’s very important to him. He’s in here all the time, he’s taking care of his body, he’s lifting, he’s running, and he’s got instincts. He’s definitely gonna be a guy that plays as well.”

That last part is the most important. Paschal wasn’t projected to redshirt, and Stoops made that clear Saturday.

Josh Paschal-Kentucky-Kentucky football
Kentucky freshman outside linebacker Josh Paschal (Joe Mussatto/SEC Country)

Quinton Bohanna another freshman in the mix

Quinton Bohanna has been one of the most popular names in camp, and Stoops legitimatized the hype around the freshman defensive tackle.

“I’m pleased with what he can do athletically,” Stoops said. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s tough. It’s very important to him. He has shown up. He definitely will be a guy that we’re gonna start forcing into the two-deep.”

Again, Stoops’ most important words came at the end of his thought. Kentucky needs depth on the defensive front, and it sounds like Bohanna could provide that.

Injury updates

Derrick Baity

Starting cornerback Derrick Baity wore a boot on his left foot, but Stoops said it’s nothing more than a rolled ankle.

“He finished practice yesterday and then it swelled a little bit, but it’s a regular ankle, not high or nothing like that, so he should be fine,” Stoops said.

Eli Brown

Linebacker Eli Brown tweaked a hamstring, Stoops said.

Nick Haynes

It’s not injury news, but Stoops and his staff are monitoring what starting guard Nick Haynes does. Haynes, who’s down to 260 pounds, is fighting Type 1 diabetes and he’s struggled to stay heavy enough.

“We’re just monitoring how many reps he gets. Trying to get him some rest and check on his blood levels and all that. If he’s not really in good shape, then we’re not practicing him. He’s very smart. He’s been around awhile and has great experience. His health is most important to us.”

Junior George Asafo-Adjei took most of the snaps at Haynes’ right guard spot.

Highlights from Kentucky’s open practice