"Good first practice. Very encouraged," Stoops said after Monday afternoon's workout. "Just what we suspected, the guys did an awful lot of work in the summer. You can tell they're more explosive. They're in better shape. It's nice to have more depth. We're a better football team right now than when we left spring, that's for sure."
Kentucky has two days in helmets and shorts and two days in "shells" (helmets and shoulder pads) as mandated by the NCAA before donning the full pads. The Wildcats have begun preparation for a season that kicks off on Aug. 31 in Nashville, Tenn., against Western Kentucky.
One of the biggest questions that needs to be answered between now and that day is who will emerge as UK's starting quarterback.
"They're all different. They all have their strengths," Stoops said of the sophomore trio of Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles. "Jalen can run the ball. He brings that dimension. Max has done some very good things on the field, played in some games and looked good at times. He has some experience and good games and things like that. And Towles is a very big guy with a big arm. Those are just a few of the things off the top of my head.
"They all looked better right now (than in the spring)" Stoops added. "They looked better in this first day from just watching it. From what I've seen, we're much improved."
One player that Stoops didn't get to see in the spring made a solid first impression on Monday. Junior college wide receiver Javess Blue, who was recently cleared to play from an academic standpoint, showed why many scouts considered him to be one of the elite juco prospects in the country.
"It was very important to get Javess in here," Stoops said. "He looked very good. He's going to help us. To what extent, we'll see. But I thought, just seeing him out there without being here this summer and not knowing much about the offense and all that, just seeing him move around and catch the ball, he looked very smooth. He can help us, first impression."
Surgery For Mobley:
Stoops announced that sophomore running back Dyshawn Mobley will miss the early stages of fall camp as he recovers from minor surgery to correct a hernia issue. The 5-foot-11, 209-pound Mobley will not return to action until the middle part of the month, according to Stoops. "He should be fine."
Mobley, who rushed for 184 yards on 41 carries as a freshman, was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart entering fall camp.
Freshman defensive lineman Regie Meant is also recovering from an infection that occurred after he suffered an abrasion on his forearm, Stoops said. "Other than that, it looked like we were healthy out there today."
More Academic Casualties Coming?
Stoops indicated there could be "a few" academic issues that returning players are working through before they can be cleared to play this season. He did not specify which players were involved. "We'll see how that goes," Stoops said.
Earlier in the day, Stoops announced that signees Alvonte Bell and Justin Day had not met eligibility requirements and that two other newcomers, Nate Willis and Melvin Lewis, were still working toward completing their junior college classwork before they could join the UK program.