LEXINGTON — Kentucky sophomore defensive tackle Mike Douglas, a Florida native, said he was “really excited” about having former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as UK’s new coach.
“I felt really great about it and I know he is known for his defense and he turned Florida State’s defense around,” said Douglas. “It makes me really excited because growing up I have watched Florida State and all the other Florida schools. I am really, really excited to meet him and learn his defense.
Punter Lander Foster got a text telling him Stoops had been hired and then heard the report on ESPN. Freshman linebacker Khalid Henderson said other players and staff members told him the news. Freshman receiver A.J. Legree said freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow sent him the news via text and junior linebacker Avery Williamson and sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith said they found out on Twitter.
Here are quotes provided by the University of Kentucky on what players had to say about the hiring of Stoops, who will be formally introduced at a Sunday press conference since he’s coaching Florida State in Saturday’s ACC championship game:
Question: What about Stoops being a defensive-minded coach?
Foster: “Defensively minded guys really enjoy punting, obviously, because of field position. In high school, my defensive coordinator loved me and he would always take pride in telling me where he wanted the punts to go, which side of the field he wanted me to punt to. I think defensive-minded coaches really care, enjoy and understand the importance of punting and field position. That is obviously exciting.”
Henderson: “I was very excited, being that I am a freshman and have a lot more years to play here at the University of Kentucky. I felt it was a great opportunity for me to have a more defensive-minded coach that can help me out in the long run.”
Williamson:¿“Yeah, it is kind of exciting. I know that he is going to be a really aggressive. I am excited to see what his coaching style is and what he brings to the table.”
Question: What was your first impression of the hire?
Legree: “My home state is Florida and growing up my cousin (Kendyll Pope) played for the Seminoles and I was a Seminoles fan, so I was kind of excited. I know some guys from there like Timmy Jernigan (defensive tackle at Florida State), but I haven’t really called or texted them asking how he is. I want it to be a surprise. I just want to soak it all in and work hard like I did last season.”
Smith:¿“I was surprised, in a good way. I didn’t really expect that and I think it is a good answer for our team. I have heard a lot about him and heard a lot about his defenses so I thought it would be a good fit for us. I watched a lot of Pac-12 football being from California, so I know a lot about that defense. I have watched a lot of football in general, so I know a lot about his defense. I know his brothers some and I was recruited by his brother (Mike) some at Arizona and got to meet his brother there.”
Towles: “I have never met (coach Stoops) but from what I hear he is a very enthusiastic guy and very, very passionate, which is what I think we need around here. We need a guy that is going to come in and not take any nonsense and going to get us to start winning football games.”
Williamson: “I started to look into it and got really excited. He is a great defensive coordinator and he has a great defense down there. I feel good about the pick.”
Whitlow:¿“My high school teammate (who plays at Florida State) said that he loves him and all the guys love him and that he is a good guy and good coach. I am excited for him to get here and try to get some wins and get to a bowl game next year.”
Henderson: “I know about the Stoops family overall and some of the similar coaching styles. Based upon the defense he ran at other places it is a very exciting defense and they fly around a lot.”
Question: What has athletics director Mitch Barnhart told the team the last few days?
Foster: “Just to continue what we are doing academically and just continue to work hard in the classroom and in the weight room. Obviously, everyone is excited about Coach Stoops coming and he is excited, too. He wants that to carry on in the weight room and classroom as well.”
Legree: “Just to stay positive and work hard.”