Mark Stoops talks Kentucky Wildcats Football

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COACH STOOPS: I’d be very shocked if Bud was not a first‑round draft pick. He’s got to play his way into it, have the opportunity to be a high pick. I truly believe that. You know I’ve been around a lot of great ones. A lot of linebackers recently at Florida State.
Za’Darius the same thing. He could have gone a year ago, a little lower, but has a chance to play himself up into a high draft pick. First couple rounds.
They’re both very talented. But Bud is special. He has that ability to play standing up. Put his hand in the dirt. He’s a pass‑rusher. He’s got instincts. With everybody going to a lot of the 3‑4 things, outside backers, versatility, he’s a very good player.

Q. (Question regarding if he was surprised that Bud was preseason second-team All-SEC and not first team.)

COACH STOOPS: I am. Yeah, I was. That’s one of the reasons I think I’m conservative with my praising of guys. I don’t need to be with him. He comes to work every day. He loves being here. If he was worried about that, he would have left a year ago.
He wanted to come back, play himself up into a high pick. He wanted to lead this team. He had unfinished business. I love everything about him, the way he goes about his business. He’s not worried about anything except getting better this year.

Q. (Question regarding captains.)

COACH STOOPS: Last year I was unsure. We changed them up throughout the year. As you saw a year ago, Avery was a staple out there. We’ll see how that goes in the next couple weeks.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam.)

COACH STOOPS: He’s made it through camp. He’s getting better every day. He’s about where I thought he would be. He’s a talented football player that the sky’s the limit. We need to continue to develop him fundamentally, not just shape, but fundamentally he’s got to play better. He’s got to be lower, play more consistent.
What I love about him, it’s not easy, it’s not been easy, he has a good attitude about it. He’s got his ups and downs like all freshmen. But he’s really trying to fight through it, wants to be a good player. He needs to stay extremely dedicated if he wants to be everything we know he can be, which is a great football player.

Q. He’s a funny guy.

COACH STOOPS: He’s a funny guy. A lot less jokes through camp because he’s been really tired (laughter). He’s got a good attitude. He’s been fun.

Q. (Question regarding D tackles.)

COACH STOOPS: I feel good about our D tackles. I feel like we’re getting closer to playing better fundamentally. If you know anything about myself, we take great pride in that. That’s our job, to develop them into good fundamental football players.
I feel like Jimmy has done a good job with them. We’re getting closer to where we want to be.

Q. (Question regarding Matt Elam losing weight.)

COACH STOOPS: Well, he’s getting better. He’s working hard. Just like any young guy, any freshman, it takes time. You just got to keep on working.
But I like his attitude. He knows that he’s got to work hard. He knows he’s got areas he needs to improve. He’s addressing them.
Thank you.