LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky has started preparations for Georgia Tech and coach Mark Stoops and players were available to talk to the media after practice Friday.
What we learned
- Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson arrived at Kentucky in January, and he reflected on his path to Lexington as the one-year mark approaches: “Me and my mom talked about it the other day, sitting around at Christmas, really just kind of upset,” he remembered. “Not too happy at the options I had for schools. Really thinking of, ‘Did I make the right decision going back to JUCO?’ But go a year from then and I’m really happy with how it all unfolded.”
- Johnson’s two offers were Kentucky and Hawaii. The call from Kentucky came out of nowhere as Johnson didn’t know the school was looking for a quarterback. He said it was an easy decision but laughed as not all of his friends agreed with it: “Whenever I told them Kentucky it was like, ‘Oh, that basketball school, right?’ Everybody thought I was crazy to choose Kentucky over Hawaii with the different weather.”
- Coach Mark Stoops told SEC Country on Monday that not many quarterbacks would’ve played through what Johnson was dealing with during the Austin Peay and Louisville games. Johnson said it was a sprained PCL: “They had me in a brace the whole time for the practices that week,” he said. “It was a little painful trying to do some of the things out there — trying to run on it a little. I think at the time it was a really good decision to keep me out for as long as they could in order to save my knee, I guess.”
- Johnson said his knee is at 95 percent and he’ll be good to go in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
- Stoops also spoke after practice Friday. The attention is now on Georgia Tech preparation with finals over, but the coach said there’s a long way to go: “I’m glad we don’t play for a bit,” Stoops said. “We have a lot of work to do, especially on the defensive side defending Tech’s offense. Got a lot to do, a lot of work to do, but the attitude has been good.”
- Freshman running back A.J. Rose played the part of Lamar Jackson to prepare for Louisville. He’ll play a key part on the scout team offense to prepare for Georgia Tech.
- Stoops said “just a few” players are thinking about leaving early for the NFL. The league should send draft grades before the bowl game and Stoops will meet with players after the bowl game: “We’ll try to get serious with the players who may be thinking about that and give them as much information as they can have to give them an informed decision.”