LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky football’s third preseason practice concluded with news of a huge hit to the defense: junior defensive tackle Regie Meant is leaving the team indefinitely for “personal reasons,” Mark Stoops announced.
“I ask you to respect that and leave it alone,” the coach continued. “It has nothing to do with football, nothing to do with us or playing or anything like that. It has to do with himself. Again, I ask you to just leave that and respect him. But it is a blow to us and our depth on the D-line.”
The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Meant, who had 31 tackles last season, is no longer with the team in any capacity, Stoops said, and the team is not anticipating his return at any point this fall. That leaves junior nose guard Matt Elam as the team’s most experienced defensive lineman.
“Matt is going to have to step up and play at a higher level and be a leader,” Stoops said of the former 5-star recruit who slimmed down from 380 to 350 pounds this offseason. “We’ll miss Regie for sure.”
Courtney Miggins, the projected starter at end, recorded 12 tackles last fall. Sophomore Adrian Middleton, who replaced Meant on the first team at Monday’s practice, produced eight tackles. Stoops hopes junior-college end Alvonte Bell (6-foot-5, 260) is ready to help after a redshirt season and said sophomore Kengera Daniel “needs to really develop; he’s a guy that needs to step up and improve.”
That wasn’t the only news out of Kentucky camp Monday. What you need to know:
- Tight end Darryl Long is transferring “somewhere where he can get more playing time,” Stoops said, after the sophomore caught zero passes in 10 appearances last fall. The Wildcats have a budding star at the position in C.J. Conrad, while Nebraska transfer Greg Hart is eligible this season and true freshman Justin Rigg is already impressing the staff.
- After being the talk of spring practice, sophomore weakside linebacker Jordan Jones is apparently in the doghouse. “We’re going to be a disciplined football team,” Stoops said. “Jordan needs to work on that discipline. If he can’t, then he won’t play.” To that end, redshirt freshman Eli Brown, a former 4-star recruit, replaced Jones on the first team Monday. “He’s coming along,” Stoops said of Brown. “I’m excited about him.”
- A strong summer apparently made the start of camp much smoother than in the first three seasons under Stoops. “Been good work. Things are moving fast,” he said. “We have a lot in on both sides of the ball. It just goes to show you that we did a lot of work in the summer. Not as many mental mistakes, the ball is not on the ground as much. We’re learning how to practice: still being super competitive and physical, but practicing smart.”
- And here’s the best news for UK on a day of negative developments: No significant injuries to report through three practices.
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