Kentucky Wildcats

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Three-star 2019 prospect one of five charged with capital murder

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One 2019 football prospect with multiple Power Five scholarship offers has much more pressing concerns than how many more he’ll add in the near future.

According to the Gadsden Times, 17-year-old Alabama high school football player Jesse Altman is one of five individuals who have been charged with capital murder in connection to the shooting death of 18-year-old Aaron “A.J.” Huff last week. Altman and two other teenagers, Broderick Lawrence Pearson and Lonterry Orlando Harrison, were booked into the Etowah County (Ala.) Detention Center Wednesday while two others were taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force; those teenagers, Kalab Blake Whitworth and Tyler Michael Abbott, have been charged as adults.

From the newspaper’s report:

While detectives have not commented on a motive for the shooting, after Abbott’s arrest they said it was believed that he and Huff knew each other and met in a parking lot about 7:30 p.m. last Thursday. There was what police described as an altercation, and the two left in separate vehicles. The vehicle in which Huff was a passenger stopped at the intersection of Hoke Street and Litchfield Avenue, and a gunman got out of the other vehicle and shot Huff. The driver of that vehicle took Huff to a nearby hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.

All five of those arrested were in the vehicle from which the shooter allegedly emerged; as of yet, police have not publicly identified the person they believe pulled the trigger

Altman is currently rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Alabama. According to Rivals.com, the 6-1, 285-pound defensive tackle holds offers from among others, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Alabama and Florida State are also listed as having shown interest.

Kentucky, WRs coach Lamar Thomas ‘part ways’

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Mark Stoops came into Thursday needing to fill one hole on his Kentucky coaching staff. As he exits the day, that number has risen to two.

Following up on rumors that surfaced earlier, Stoops confirmed that his football program has parted ways with Lamar Thomas. The former Miami Hurricane standout had spent the past two seasons as the Wildcats’ wide receivers coach.

Thomas’ contract was set to expire this June, not long after a 2017 season that saw UK’s receiving corps account for just five touchdown catches came to an end.

“I appreciate the contributions Lamar made to our program during the last two years,” Stoops said in a relatively brief statement. “We wish him the best in the future.”

On his personal Twitter account, Thomas thanked Stoops for the opportunity.

Prior to coming to Kentucky in February of 2016, Thomas spent three seasons at in-state rival Louisville coaching the same position. He had also been the receivers coach for Bobby Petrino at Western Kentucky for two years, his first job at the FBS level.

In addition to replacing Thomas, Stoops also needs to hire a 10th assistant.

QB Drew Barker leaving Kentucky as a grad transfer

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Drew Barker‘s time at Kentucky has come to an end.

The one-time starting quarterback announced via Twitter Tuesday night that he has decided to transfer out of the Wildcats football program.  As he’s leaving Lexington as a graduate, the redshirt junior will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 if he opts to move on to another FBS school.

Barker earned the starting job during the spring and started the first three games of 2016 but suffered what turned out to be a season-ending back injuryStephen Johnson took over and never relinquished the job, with Barker appearing in just four games this past season.

With Johnson’s eligibility expired, however, Barker was viewed as the front-runner to start in 2018 heading into the offseason.  That mantle now likely falls on junior-college transfer Terry Wilson.

The move does leave UK woefully thin experience-wise under center as there is no quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass, or even taken a snap at the FBS level.

Official offers unacceptable explanation for inexcusable Benny Snell ejection

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Sometimes you should just admit you were wrong and move on.  The officiating crew in the Music City Bowl decided to do the exact opposite.

In a first half rife with questionable calls, the bellcow of the ineptness was Kentucky’s Benny Snell being ejected from the game against Northwestern because of an unsportsmanlike penalty that was called because the running back initiated contact with an official.  First, we’ll go to the official postgame explanation of the ejection from Chris Coyte, the head referee who was “contacted” by Snell:

I was on top of the play. And the player got up and grabbed my arms and pushed them away and contacted me. That’s a foul.”

Did Snell say anything beyond the contact that influenced the ejection?
“No”

Can there be incidental contact between a player and an official?
“Yes”

Was this contact incidental?
“It was not.”

Is it accurate to phrase this as ‘intentional contact’?
“That’s how I ruled. Yes.

Now, let’s go to the tape that shows the egregious act committed by Snell…

Chris Coyte should never, ever officiate a major college football game again. Hell, youth football leagues should be hesitant to hire him.

Absolutely ridiculous, unacceptable and inexcusable.

Justin Jackson powers No. 21 Northwestern past Kentucky in Music City Bowl

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It was a game marred by penalties, ejections and injuries, but No. 21 Northwestern (10-3) sifted through all of the hurdles to capture a 24-23 victory against Kentucky (7-6) to win the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Friday evening. Running back Justin Jackson finished off a brilliant college career by rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns to put Northwestern on his back for the win.

Northwestern needed Jackson to carry the load after quarterback Clayton Thorson was lost to a serious-looking leg injury in the first half. Thorson was replaced by Matt Alviti after being carted off the field in the second quarter. Jackson was not alone in pounding out yardage on the ground. Jeremy Larkin got involved in a big way with 112 yards. As much as the Northwestern running game carried the way to victory, it was a big play by the defense that seemingly would help lift Northwestern to a win. Kyle Queiro‘s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter gave Northwestern a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. It was the second interception of the game thrown by Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson.

Northwestern gave Kentucky a chance to come back, however. After Kentucky kicked a field goal to create a seven-point deficit, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald made the incredibly bold decision to go for a first down on a 4th-and-1 on his own 39-yard line. After an instant replay upheld the fourth down stop, Kentucky went to work to try and get in the end zone. A pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-6 by Northwestern gave Kentucky the ball at the nine-yard line, and Johnson ran it in for a score.

Rather than go for a tie in the final minute of the game, Kentucky opted to go for a two-point conversion, but the pass attempt by Johnson fell incomplete. Northwestern then recovered the kickoff to run out the clock.

Northwestern has now won bowl games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. It is also the second time in three years Northwestern has hit 10 wins, and the third time under Fitzgerald. With the win, the Big Ten improves to 4-0 this bowl season, while the SEC drops to 0-3 out of the gates. Kentucky has not won a bowl game since 2008.

Northwestern will open the 2018 season with a conference game against Purdue on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. The Wildcats have a tough draw in cross-division play with Michigan and a road game at Michigan State in back-to-back weeks followed by a home game against Nebraska. Northwestern also hosts Notre Dame next November Kentucky begins the 2018 season at home on Sep. 1, 2018 against Central Michigan before a Week 2 road trip to Florida in SEC play.