"Some of the young guys are sticking out," the Wildcats' first-year head coach said. "Alex Montgomery jumped out at me today, made a couple (of plays). Ryan Timmons jumped out at me today, made a couple of nice plays. Jason Hatcher is doing some really good things. Those are some young guys that are jumping out.
"The older guys are all better, much better than we were in the spring, so it's been good. We're getting a lot of reps, a lot of work in."
All three freshmen cited by Stoops occupy positions in which the Wildcats need some immediate help from their highly-regarded 2013 signing class, especially in the receiving corps.
Montgomery is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver who helped guide Cypress Bay High School the Florida Class 8A state championship game as a senior. He had a state record 199 yards receiving in the title game.
Timmons is a 5-10, 200-pound athlete who could see time at both receiver and running back this season, a role he played starring at Franklin County (Ky.) High School where he had more than 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving and scored a combined 41 touchdowns as a senior.
And Hatcher, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end, was one of the nation's top-rated players at his position coming out of Louisville powerhouse Trinity High School. He is in the mix to provide quality depth behind two of the Wildcats' better defensive players, Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith.
Stoops said the excitement level wasn't quite the same Tuesday as it was when the Cats opened camp, but labeled the workout "businesslike."
"We had a few more mix-ups today than yesterday due to install, just with the tempo of practice and guys getting worn down with the reps we're getting, but guys have impressed me with how fast we're going. And if you asked (UK offensive coordinator) Neal (Brown) it's probably not fast enough, but still at a pretty good clip."
Smith's Reps Limited:
Stoops confirmed Tuesday that one of the three sophomores competing for UK's starting quarterback job, Maxwell Smith, has been somewhat limited early on in practice as a precautionary measure.
Smith has experienced some soreness in his throwing shoulder over the summer, and at one point had considered a minor surgical procedure to correct it, but opted against that measure.
"We're limiting his number of throwsl," Stoops said. "He seems to be doing fine so far."
Asked if he was concerned about the situation moving forward, Stoops said: "Absolutely we're worried about injury. Just like last year, we know what can happen here with injuries, especially at quarterback, so we've got to have a lot of guys ready. Again, right now he seems to be fine, but we're being a little bit cautious with him and limiting some of his throws."
Smith started the first four games for UK last season before suffering a severe ankle injury that knocked him out of the last eight games. Before the injury, he had completed 69 percent of his passes for 975 yards and eight touchdowns. When the Wildcats were forced to go with senior Morgan Newton and freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles the remainder of the season, they struggled offensively.
Now Smith is battling Whitlow and Towles for the starting job in 2013. It's reportedly a close competition. The staff has been very reluctant to give clues about who is standing out thus far, but Stoops said Tuesday that the equal-reps situation may not last too much longer.
"If 1 and 2 separate themselves from 3, yeah, we need to start doing that as we get closer to game time," he said.
One of the changes Stoops made when he took the job at UK was moving the fall practice schedule to afternoon sessions. The Cats had previously practiced in the morning for several years under Joker Phillips.
"I think so. I believe so," Stoops said when asked if the change was due to better energy level in the afternoon. "Going in the evenings, it will give them a little bit of a chance to sleep in in the morning… If you're getting them up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning, you can say what you want, but they're going to be up (late at night) studying and social life. I mean, they are college students. I seriously doubt they're going to go to bed at 9:30 like they should, if you're going that early.
"I just think it gives coaches prep time during the day, lets them get a little more sleep, a little more rest, and it's just what I'm comfortable with."
Defensive Back Unlikely To Play:
Stoops announced Tuesday that cornerback J.D. Harmon would not likely to be with the team this fall. A university spokesman said he could not comment on the reason for Harmon's departure, but Stoops had mentioned academic issues previously when addressing the situation.
Harmon, a sophomore from Paducah, Ky., entered fall camp listed as a second-team player on the depth chart. He played in 12 games as a freshman and started the final three at corner, picking off two passes in UK's game at Missouri.
Cornerback is a thin position for the Cats entering the season. Sophomores Fred Tiller and Cody Quinn are currently listed as the starters, but many opponents force defenses to play three or more corners regularly. None of the other corners on the UK roster have significant experience.
Kentucky is still awaiting word on the eligibility of junior college corner Nate Willis. Stoops said Tuesday he did not know when the staff would know about the signee's status.