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Looking At Kentucky’s Coaching Changes

Four Wildcats Declare For NFL Draft

A Couple Of Departures And Some Familiar Names

Change is inevitable in college football year after year, especially with coaching staffs. Take a school like Kentucky who is trying to move up in the ultra competitive Southeastern  Conference. Sometimes it’s a bigger school looking to poach an assistant for their staff. However other times it’s a smaller school offering a first time head coaching job. While Mark Stoops has kept his staff pretty intact there are a few changes for 2020. We’ll look at who’s new and who moved on as we begin looking at Kentucky’s Coaching Changes.

Hello, I Must Be Going

Dean Hood, who was Kentucky’s special teams coordinator and helped with the secondary, left in December to become the head man at Murray State. This is Hood’s second stint in the Ohio Valley Conference, as he coached Eastern Kentucky from 2008- 2015. During his tenure in Richmond he led the Colonels to three post season appearances and two OVC titles. It’s a long way off but Kentucky plays host to the Racers in both 2024 and 2027.

In addition to Hood another member of the defensive staff who departed was Derrick LeBlanc. After three years in Lexington the defensive line coach left to take a similar job at Arkansas. He’ll work under new head coach Sam Pittman and defensive coordinator Barry Odom. The latter of course was the head man at Missouri for the last four years.

On the offensive side of the ball Stoops had to replace Michael Smith who resigned after two years on the Kentucky staff. Before coming to Lexington Smith held the same position under Bret Bielema at Arkansas.

As we continue looking at Kentucky’s coaching changes let’s turn our attention to the men coming to Lexington. However for one it’s simply a new position on the staff.

Welcome To The Machine

Replacing Hood as safeties coach is Frank Buffano. However he is familiar name in the program. Prior to his move Buffano spent the last seven seasons as the director of football operations though he wanted to coach again. He spent three years at Youngstown State coaching the secondary first and the linebackers. Buffano graduated from Cardinal Mooney high school, the same as Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow.

Stoops tabbed Jovon Bouknight to replace Smith as wide receivers coach.

Bouknight comes to Lexington after spending one year at Oregon. During that one season in Eugene the Ducks went 12-2 and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Before that Bouknight spent ten seasons at Utah State coaching the receivers in which the Aggies went to seven bowl games. Furthermore during his final year Utah State finished second in the nation in offense. He was a standout receiver at Wyoming during his college days.

With the departure of Hornung Award winner Lynn Bowden, it’s up to Bouknight to develop new targets for quarterback Terry Wilson. The good thing for True Blue Fans is there is a lot of talent to work with.

Former Cat Returns Home

The third new member of the coaching staff is another very familiar to the Big Blue Nation. Former Cat Anwar Stewart replaced LeBlanc as defensive line coach.

Stewart was a member of Stoops’ support staff in 2017-2018. This past season he was the defensive line coach at Appalachian State. The Mountaineers ranked 26th in the country a season ago in total offense allowing 336 yards per game. Before that he coached for three years in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. Furthermore he played 13 years in the CFL, winning the most outstanding defensive player in 2004.

However most Kentucky fans remember Stewart as a player from 1996-1999. In fact Stewart factored in one of the most memorable plays in school history. Late in the game against Alabama Stewart returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a score, tying the game. As a result the Cats went on to win 40-34 in overtime.

Kentucky has some outstanding players returning for 2020 and the best defensive line class in history coming in. That unit is going to be fun to watch and the excitement level for Kentucky fans is extremely high. Let’s hope there’s a season come the fall.

There’s one more coach to discuss as we finish looking at Kentucky’s coaching changes. Greg Manusky comes to Lexington as a quality control assistant. Manusky played in the NFL in the late 1990’s and has coached in the league since 2001. Most recently he was defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins from 2017-2019.

Thanks for looking at Kentucky’s coaching changes with us here at Last Word On College Football.  With the NFL Draft coming up we’ll take a look at which Kentucky players will hear their name called where they might go.


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