Kentucky football practice report: Nick Haynes working his weight back up, Benny Snell gets Bo Jackson comparison

LEXINGTON, Ky. —  Slowly but surely, Kentucky senior Nick Haynes is adding back weight after dipping below 260 pounds in the tug-of-war between managing Type-1 Diabetes and playing offensive guard in the Southeastern Conference.

“I’ve put at least 10, 11 pounds back on,” Haynes said after Friday’s practice. “With the food we get, managing my reps in practice, I think it’s a good plan to get back to the weight I need to be at. I’m about 268-ish, but it’s no big deal. I can still do my thing, so it’s no worries.”

The 6-foot-3 Haynes was listed at 320 pounds as a freshman at Kentucky and said he played most of last season around 275, but he was down to 266 by the bowl game.

“So I’ve played at this weight before,” he said. “I’m not really that concerned about it. I know everybody else is concerned about it. But I was able to do my job last year and I’ll do it again this year.”

Haynes did say he’s been encouraged by an outpouring of support from Kentucky fans since SEC Country first reported this summer that he was struggling to maintain his weight due to the diabetes. A strict diet limits how many carbohydrates and sugars he can consume, but he tries to boost his weight with healthy, high-fat snacks like nuts and yogurt.

While it’s true there aren’t many (any?) starting SEC guards in the 260-pound range, “I don’t plan to be one. I’d like to be about 275, 280,” Haynes said. “But if it came down to it, I’d be perfectly fine doing the O-line at 265, 270.”

Another option is a position change, and offensive line coach John Schlarman said recently he’s given Haynes some looks at center. An All-SEC candidate, Haynes is arguably the Wildcats’ most athletic and technically sound lineman.

“Coach Schlarman lets me play wherever I want at this point. It’s kind of like, ‘Hey, Coach, can I go in at right guard?’ Yeah, sure. ‘Can I go in at center?’ OK. ‘Can I go in at left tackle?’ OK, Nick, maybe,” said Haynes, who realizes any NFL aspirations might require a position switch if his weight issues persist. “It’s good to have [center] down. I know our whole offense, so if it came down to playing center, I could for sure do it. I like guard — you get to pull a lot more and hit people — but it’s fun playing either one. I would do whichever one they let me do.”

— Kyle Tucker, SEC Country

More Kentucky football practice notes

Benny Snell, Jordan Jones

Benny Snell, Kentucky’s sophomore running back, was asked which UK defender’s tackle was toughest to break. Junior linebacker Jordan Jones was the not-so-surprising response. Snell sees some similarities between he and Jones.

“I talk to Jordan Jones all the time,” Snell said. “We make each other better after every rep. We talk to each other and see what we see and better each other. We always say this: I’m the (Jordan) Jones of the offense and he’s the Benny Snell of the defense. That’s how we see it.”

Push-ups in practice

Receiver Garrett Johnson and cornerback Derrick Baity have a friendly competition in practice.

“I’ve been talking a little trash to (Derrick) Baity out here in our two-minute drills,” Johnson said. “We’ve been betting pushups on whoever wins. I’ve been doing a couple push-ups.” 

We circled back to Baity to ask him about the competition.

“Ain’t no competition, baby,” he said. “I’m winning.” The cornerback then took it a step further: “I’m annihilating Garrett Johnson,” Baity said. “I don’t even know who he is for real.”

If the offense doesn’t score in the two-minute drill, the whole offense, including quarterback Stephen Johnson, has to do push-ups or run.

“I like to see them run laps,” Baity said.

Kentucky scrimmages for the first time during camp on Saturday. Bragging rights will be on the line.

Kash Daniel improving mobility

Kash Daniel is a hulking figure at inside linebacker, but the sophomore linebacker lacked the necessary mobility. Improving Daniel’s mobility was a priority for Corey Edmond and his strength staff.

“Coming in I had strength,” Daniel said. “Flexibility and movement and side to side was one of my weak parts. This summer and during the offseason and spring, Coach Edmond and Coach Hill really emphasized me moving and changing direction better. We kind of put the strength stuff to the side, just to kind of maintain it. We kind of want to focus on how fast I move on the field.” 

Daniel said he can already feel the difference. Another difference for Daniel? The mustache is gone.

“Yeah, stache season was shortly lived,” Daniel said. “I was left on red too much on Snapchat. When you’re trying to Snapchat and you’ve got that mustache saying, ‘Hey, I could be a potential threat.’ You’re not gonna get a lot of positive responses. That one had to go. But, I’ll tell you what, Denzil Ware actually kept it going. Denzil is keeping stache season alive right now.” 

Snell vs. Rose

Daniel was asked who’s hardest to tackle on offense. He brought up Snell and redshirt freshman running back A.J. Rose.

“Benny’s more of a down hill Bo Jackson try to run you over,” Daniel said. “And then A.J. Rose is dancing and can make you look stupid on a cut. You’ve got to approach every player differently on the field. If it’s a guy like Benny, if you don’t hit him low he’s gonna run you over. I’m sure all of you saw that with the games he played last year. And then with A.J. if you don’t break down and come to tackling balance and take away his inside and know your help’s with you, then you’re gonna look stupid.”

Kentucky quote of the day

Nick Haynes on the locker room feeling different this season:

“As a team, we just feel more efficient. We feel like a more disciplined team. I think a lot of older guys, we just don’t put up with the nonsense we might’ve a couple years ago, and that’s always good to see because it’s about time we started acting like a business around here and not like a high school or something. So I like it. You just don’t see a lot of people complaining, a lot of people doing a bunch of stuff that’s negative for the team. You see a lot of guys pulling together, and when they see a guy with his head down, they pick him up. A couple years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

The post Kentucky football practice report: Nick Haynes working his weight back up, Benny Snell gets Bo Jackson comparison appeared first on SEC Country.

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