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Bud Dupree speaks to reporters at SEC Media Days on Thursday. (Todd Van Emst, SEC) Bud Dupree speaks to reporters at SEC Media Days on Thursday. (Todd Van Emst, SEC)
HOOVER, Ala. -- Mark Stoops will admit it. He's not an easy coach to please.  

"I don't just throw out a bunch of compliments all the time to our players," Stoops said. "They have to earn that."

Bud Dupree certainly has.

"He's a great player," Stoops said. "He's so versatile. He's improved in so many ways. But he's everything you want. He's a great young man, he's a great leader. He's really taken on that leadership role, to help elevate his teammates. And that's what true leaders do."

Dupree, representing Kentucky at Southeastern Conference Media Days on Thursday, has drawn plenty of attention of late for his eye-popping numbers in athletic testing drills. The 6-foot-4, 267 pounder has a 40.5-inch vertical jump and has been clocked running 21.6 miles per hour in full pads, Erik Korem told the Louisville Courier-Journal, which surely has something to do with the fact he was a preseason Second Team All-SEC choice.

Though he's improved in UK's High Performance program, Dupree has always been physically gifted. The real transformation has come in the senior's leadership. Learning from UK's Impact Leadership Program, headed by Jason Cummins, Dupree has established himself as a key vocal presence entering the 2014 season.

"(Cummins) gave me the key role to get outside of my shell and not only benefit myself but benefit the team," Dupree said. "Sometimes I may be a little too involved in my team than I should be because I will go out the way to do everything I need for my team to be successful."

With six weeks to go before the Wildcats' Aug. 30 season opener, Dupree can see his work paying off as he looks to help fill the void left by Avery Williamson.

"I used to tell all the younger guys, like (Ryan Timmons) and Jeff (Badet) and Blake McClain, I would walk up to them every day and tell them, 'You ain't trying to be great,' " Dupree said. "Now they look at me before I even say something to them, like, 'Are you working today? Are you doing extra? I'm finna do extra.' ... And they're bringing along people with them.

"It makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and touching others."

For one of Dupree's companions on the trip through the media gauntlet in Hoover, Ala., leadership has come more naturally.

"Personally, I feel like I have the leadership role on the offense and I try and get the guys going on our side of the ball and try and get the young guys coming along. I try to do what I can do," junior offensive tackle Jordan Swindle said. "I feel like it's definitely an innate ability of mine because I've just grown up with a great father figure and family that's just instilled in me character values."

Stoops called Swindle the "unquestioned" leader of the offense, but that didn't happen overnight. Swindle, now a junior, needed a time to establish himself as a player and figure out exactly what UK's coaching staff, now in its second season, was looking for.

"I'm just extremely impressed at the way he goes about his business," Stoops said. "He worked extremely hard in the offseason. And you know, that first year, a lot of it is setting the tone and putting the staples in your program in place, and your core values. Then seeing where you're at, then going into the off-season and improving on them. Jordan was the first one, when we put him in a leadership role and did that, to take charge and do an excellent job of developing team chemistry and leadership."

Jordan Swindle (Todd Van Emst, SEC) Jordan Swindle (Todd Van Emst, SEC)
Put in those terms, his task is a tall one. Swindle, however, sees his charge much more clearly.

"It's kind of my goal to make our team better every single day," Swindle said. "If I catch a guy that's not working as hard as he could be or he's not practicing as hard as he could be or he's slipping up in class, I need to go get that guy and confront and tell him he shouldn't be doing that, he needs to get back on track."

It's no coincidence that both Swindle and Dupree view leadership so simply. It all starts with their coach.

"I think he brought that mentality (of improving every day) with him," Swindle said. "It was there before, but it almost became something of a standard. Before, it was kind of like if you did that it was above and beyond. Now it's become something that is if it's not that, it's not right."

On the strength of that approach and the infusion of more incoming talent, Stoops believes he has a different team than a year ago, though the Wildcats were picked to finish last in the SEC East on Thursday by league media.

"We're not worried about that," Stoops said. "You know that. You've heard me say it over and over again: We're worried about getting better. We're worried about putting our head down and going to work. I'm excited. I'm excited about this team and the work they've put in. We're just ready to go to work and get better."

You needn't look any further than UK's Media Days representatives to tell that will start in the trenches.

Dupree and Za'Darius Smith are UK's bookends on the defensive line, poised to wreak even more havoc than a season ago when they combined for 13 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

"I think that they're an awesome combination," said Swindle, who lines up opposite Dupree in practice. "I feel like Bud is a really, really good pass rusher. He's overall amazing and then Z is overall amazing as well. He's a better run stopper. So when you have those two to balance each other out, it's almost unstoppable."

Swindle, meanwhile, will look to anchor an offensive line that doesn't yet know which quarterback it will be blocking for. Stoops said the battle between Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips, Drew Barker and Maxwell Smith.

"You would love somebody just to take the job and run with it and play great," Stoops said. "But I've also told you that I'm not going to be forced into that decision. I don't want to be sitting here and saying, 'He can't make a decision.' I need somebody to take charge and win that job. We'll see. We feel good about the way spring wrapped up. There is some clarity there. But there's also a lot of competition to go."

When that competition resolves itself -- likely early in fall camp -- the Cats believe questions at other positions will be answered as well.

"The skill players will come," Dupree said. "Once the quarterback situation gets settled in, the skill players will come."

Offensive tackle Jordan Swindle


Defensive end Bud Dupree


Defensive end Za'Darius Smith



Countdown to kickoff: Summer workout video

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It was an emotional moment for incoming UK freshman Karl-Anthony Towns after he was named 2014 Boys Gatorade Player of the Year on Tuesday night. Check out complete video of his acceptance speech above.

If you were paying close attention, you may have noticed former Gatorade Player of the Year Brandon Knight on stage to present the award. The former and current Wildcats posed for a photo after Towns took home the award.


Video: The countdown to kickoff continues

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Video: 50 days to kickoff

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On June 30, Arin Gilliland received the Honda Inspiration Award at the Collegiate Women's Sports Award. The honor recognized the UK women's soccer star's courage in overcoming her mother's passing and a devastating knee injury suffered at the end of her freshman season.

As part of the CBS Sports Network broadcast, the feature video below on Gilliland's relationship with her mother Letita.


SECN_Logos_COXAdd.jpg Via ESPN Media Zone

ESPN and Cox Communications have reached an agreement for carriage of the SEC Network on Cox when the multiplatform network launches on August 14, 2014.  The channel will be available to fans and followers of the Southeastern Conference in all Cox markets.  Cox subscribers will also have authenticated access to additional live events scheduled for the SEC Network's digital platform, with the ability to watch SEC Network content anytime, anywhere on their television, computer, tablet or mobile device.

"Cox is home to some of the biggest fans with five SEC schools in our markets," said Jill Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Cox Communications.  "This is great news for alumni and fans across our footprint who will enjoy all the action and rivalries that have become synonymous with SEC sports."

Added Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president, affiliate sales: "The ground swell of consumer and affiliate demand increases by the day, and we continue to build on our momentum with the announcement of Cox Communications as our latest distributor that will deliver the SEC Network to fans at launch."

The SEC Network and its accompanying digital platform will air more than 1,000 live events in its first year, including at least 45 exclusive SEC football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games, 50 softball games and events across all of the SEC's 21-sports. The network will be an all-access pass to nationally competitive events, news and information, expert analysis, classic games and in-depth features on the most storied conference in college athletics.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said:  "The addition of Cox is another very important step in the development of the SEC Network, bringing millions more viewers nationwide to the network when it launches on August 14.  As one of the largest cable television distributors in the U.S., including five states in the SEC footprint, this agreement with Cox has a significant impact on exposure for the SEC."

"We are pleased to expand upon our growing list of distributors who have signed agreements for the SEC Network launching in a little over a month," added Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, college networks.  "We look forward to serving Cox customers with an unparalleled offering of more SEC content than ever before."

About Cox Communications

Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet and telephone services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable TV company, Cox serves more than 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and new media advertising.

Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in cable telephone and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For seven years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; for five years, Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity, and the company holds a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com and www.coxmedia.com.

About SEC Network

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to create and operate a multiplatform network which will launch August 14, 2014. The new network and its accompanying digital platform will air SEC content 24/7 including more than 1,000 events in its first year. The network will televise 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games, and events from across the SEC's 21 sports annually. Programming will also include in-depth commentary and analysis in studio shows, daily news and information original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, and more. Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform.

Creating signature Commonwealth traditions

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Photo by Britney Howard, UK Athletics Photo by Britney Howard, UK Athletics
The feedback we have received through BBN First has ranged from big picture all the way to the minutest of details.

As Mitch Barnhart has written before, nearly all of those suggestions have been constructive. Already, you've helped us shape a new loyalty rewards program and establish priorities as we move forward with our Fan Experience Committee.

Among the topics we'll be addressing in the coming weeks are music selections and parking, but first we want to hear more from you about something that has come up frequently in your emails and comments.

You want game day at Commonwealth Stadium to be special. You want it to feel like Kentucky. You want traditions that reflect that.

One fan, Tom, said it best.

"You don't create a tradition... it is something that builds over time. That said, it wouldn't hurt for this group to identify a few of the traditions we do have and then experiment with things... those that catch on, keep 'em and those that don't, drop 'em."

With your help, we're going to start experimenting.

First off, we're going after the break before the fourth quarter. Recognizing how memorable this point in the game can be, we want to create a signature moment for it.

As we began to toy with ideas, another fan email caught our attention. This one came from Ross.

"I think we need something unburied from our past and make it relevant to students and the fan base as a whole. We need more things to make the game day experience uniquely Kentucky."

Inspired by this, we started thinking about "My Old Kentucky Home," the most uniquely Kentucky song there is.

The song has always been an important part of game day. It's been played by the band pregame in recent years, but we believe it could have an even bigger impact if everyone comes to their feet to sing "My Old Kentucky Home" right before the start of the fourth quarter.

Moving "My Old Kentucky Home," however, is just one option. We're not taking anything off the table, whether we're talking about the third quarter/fourth quarter break or any other point in the game.

Before we talk about some of the other ideas you've given us, let's take a look at the traditions we already have:

  • "C-A-T-S" cheer
  • Air Raid siren
  • "It's football time in the Bluegrass!" pregame
  • Call to the Post pregame
  • "First Down Kentucky!"
  • Wildcat mascot pushups after UK scores

Here are some ideas we're considering based on feedback you have already sent:

  • Slowing down the "C-A-T-S" cheer with the band's involvement
  • Roving pep band pregame to different tailgating lots and in game to different sections
  • Using "Go Big Blue!" cheer after kickoff instead of "C-A-T-S"

As you can see, we've had a lot to talk about. That's why we need your feedback.

What do you think about moving "My Old Kentucky Home?" Do you have any other ideas for a pre-fourth quarter tradition? Do you have input on how to improve the traditions we already have or the ones we are talking about creating? What are we missing?

We want to hear from you. Like you, we want Commonwealth Stadium to be a special place on fall Saturdays. Submit a comment using the form on UKathletics.com/BBNfirst or by emailing BBNfirst@uky.edu to help us make that happen.

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