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Leadership the topic after good Wednesday practice

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Head coach Mark Stoops



Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown



For the second time in as many days, Kentucky practiced indoors with temperatures falling into the 30s on Wednesday.

In the controlled climate of the Nutter Field House, it was another good practice for the Wildcats.

"Players are bouncing around pretty good, so overall decent day," Stoops said. "Gotta continue to work through the week and have a good day tomorrow and get ready to go down there and have a great game. I feel good about just the work ethic of the guys and how we're moving forward and anticipate us going down there and playing well."

In order for UK to play as well at Vanderbilt as Stoops expects, Jalen Whitlow will need to continue to settle in at quarterback. The sophomore, perhaps more than at any point this season, took hold of the position in Kentucky's loss to Missouri by battling through pain and leading two third-quarter scoring drives.

After the game, Whitlow said the next step in his evolution as a leader is to become more vocal, but that's not a natural part of his personality.

"I'm not a big talkative guy, I guess," Whitlow said, "but I'm getting more talkative. It's getting there."

It's a natural thing, Stoops says, that building leadership takes time.

"I think that comes with earning that as well," Stoops said. "Guys that go out there and talk for no reason that haven't done anything does no good as well. But we need him to continue to grow as a quarterback and as a leader."

The coaching staff isn't just sitting idly by and hoping that leadership comes along.

Jason Cummins was hired earlier this year to lead the UK Athletics Impact Leadership Program and works closely with the football program. On Wednesday, Stoops spoke about it for the first time.

"I'm not sure anyone else in the country has one or not, but we have a person here that we hired through the athletic department that is directly responsible in helping teach leadership," Stoops said. "So we have a manual that we went through all summer that when we go through camp, we're teaching leadership."

Cummins is a fixture around the football facilities and serves as proof -- along with initiatives like the High Performance program -- that UK's building a foundation for football success under Stoops.

"He travels with us, he's with us all the time, talks with the team, addresses them and it's just a different person, a different message and giving us more ideas and more resources to help these young men," Stoops said.

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