LEXINGTON, Ky. — The seven early enrollees in Kentucky’s 2017 class met with the media for the first time Friday.
There will be more stories in the coming days, but first, a round of updates on things we learned.
Danny Clark throwing with Drew Barker
Clark, the top-ranked prospect among Kentucky’s early enrollees, is listed as a pro-style quarterback, but he said he can do work with his legs as well. He described himself as in between Stephen Johnson and Drew Barker in that regard.
“I can tuck it and run it when I need to, but I can step back and sling the rock,” Clark said. “It’d probably be right in the middle — right above the option quarterback and right below the pro-style quarterback. I’m comfortable right there and I think some of the best players in the world are right there — guys like Aaron Rodgers, guys like Tom Brady. They can stand back there and rip it, and when they’ve got to get that 8-yard first down they can take off.”
Clark said Barker is helping him get adjusted so far.
“Sometimes when you come in, everybody’s out to get you,” Clark said. “Drew’s not like that. He’s a great person. He’s a great football player, too.”
The two have been throwing routes with receivers on air. Barker missed the last 10 games of the season with a back injury and is trying to recover from surgery he had on it in November. Clark wouldn’t go into more detail about Barker’s status.
“Drew’s been going through his physical therapy and doing what he needs to do,” Clark said.
Lonnie Johnson’s path
Kentucky recruited Johnson out of high school but he was unable to meet eligibility requirements. He’s a former Ohio State commit and Iowa State commit, but was never eligible. The Gary, Indiana native then went the junior college route in Garden City, Kansas.
“Life in junior college is terrible,” he said with a laugh. “We don’t eat, the beds are small, it’s just like the difference between being poor and rich. This is rich right here. I love it here. There’s no better experience.”
Johnson considered giving his football dreams up when he his chances of getting eligible were looking less likely.
“But then seeing my momma work two jobs and seeing her crying and everything, I’m like, ‘OK, it’s time for me to get it together.”
Johnson, who’s expected to compete for a spot in the defensive back rotation, got the final eligibility clearance in December after not playing football last season and instead focusing on academics. He said the thought that he finally made it still hasn’t hit him yet.
“What I’ve been through, most people probably wouldn’t have survived,” Johnson said. “Where I come from nobody teach us that, to take care of your academics. I’m from a city where you can get killed like that,” he snapped his fingers. “It really wasn’t about academics for me. It was about staying out the way.”
Jamin Davis already seeing gains of new weight room
Davis, a 3-star linebacker from Georgia, first saw the new football facility as it was being built, and now he’s already seeing gains from the finished product.
The lone linebacker in the class came in at 198 pounds and said he’s already up to 207. Coach Mark Stoops is projecting him to be at 215 pounds by the start of the season. Many of the new freshman are working out just after 4 a.m.
“In the weight room, that’s where a lot of bonds are built,” Davis said. “That’s where I get really close to a lot of them.”
Family was the word nearly all seven of the early enrollees mentioned on Friday.
“It seemed like I was getting passed over from my mom and dad to new dads,” Davis said. “They just make you feel at home and that this is the place for you.”
Johnson said that if tight ends coach Vince Marrow is his father, that makes defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale his uncle. Wide receiver Clevan Thomas had a similar feeling.
“It’s actually a family, they told me this on the recruiting and I thought it was like, ‘Hey, they’re just saying that.’ But it’s actually a family here,” Thomas said. “It shows a lot.”
Byrant Koback gives update on right leg injury
The only running back in Kentucky’s 2017 class doesn’t expect to be ready for spring football. Koback broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg in his senior season and has been rehabbing ever since — including one and a half to two hours since arriving at Kentucky.
Koback, when healthy, could fight for a spot in the running back rotation given the departures of Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp.
Fun in the snow
Some of the new Florida recruits say they've never seen snow. pic.twitter.com/cw6rEO3XmD
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) January 27, 2017