UK staff made Madison Central offensive lineman Wood feel welcome – Bowling Green Daily News

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Updated: December 24, 2022 @ 12:44 am
Kentucky has always had a “special place” in offensive lineman Malachi Woods’ heart even as a youngster and now he’ll sign with Kentucky in December.
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops’ new contract will not only help with high school recruiting but also retaining players already on the roster according to Vince Marrow.
Former Kentucky star Wan’Dale Robinson’s NFL rookie season ended with a knee injury.
Kentucky’s Emma Grome (left) leads the nation in assists and often sets Azhani Tealer (right) for kills.

Kentucky has always had a “special place” in offensive lineman Malachi Woods’ heart even as a youngster and now he’ll sign with Kentucky in December.
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops’ new contract will not only help with high school recruiting but also retaining players already on the roster according to Vince Marrow.
Former Kentucky star Wan’Dale Robinson’s NFL rookie season ended with a knee injury.
Kentucky’s Emma Grome (left) leads the nation in assists and often sets Azhani Tealer (right) for kills.
At 6-foot-8, 290 pounds, it’s hard not to notice offensive lineman Malachi Wood, a Kentucky football commit who plans to enroll at UK in January.
He’s a three-star prospect who likely will be redshirted in 2023 and groomed for future success at Kentucky as he continues to develop.
But there are some things his mother, Pamela Wood, thinks UK fans need to know about her son other than just what he can do on the football field.
“I think that he is a phenomenal young man and has the purest heart and has limitless potential,” she said. “Also as far as UK goes, the staff and coaches made him feel welcome and wanted. When he is on campus, you can see the light in his eye.
“He has grown so much physically as well as spiritually and is so thankful for the opportunity they have given him at UK. He’s a very humble kid and has always been that way. If things are shared and said about him, he likes that. If nothing is said or written, he’s fine with that. That’s just how he is and I am so proud of what’s done and will continue to do.”
She had a feeling her son would be a special athlete at an early age. She said his demeanor/heart combined with his size made him different.
“He was always a lot taller than everybody else. In middle school, he started getting more of the weight on him. He grew a little more and then slimmed down in high school, but the doctors always said he was off the (growth) chart.”
He didn’t start playing football until middle school. Pamela’s father played college football and told her not to risk letting him play until he was at a level where the coaching would be consistent.
“Basketball was actually the first sport he played, but he always loved football. He is a very good basketball player and under different circumstances would have kept playing basketball longer, but there got to point where he knew football was his future,” she said.
That’s because offensive linemen with an 8-foot wingspan who can run, move and jump like he has shown he can do are rare.
Kentucky offensive line coach Zach Yenser let Wood know immediately after he got to UK that he wanted him to be part of his unit.
“You go to different schools and hear the same things over and over. You can tell the coaches at UK are very genuine and sincere. It was just different and I know that meant a lot to me,” she said.
“Coach Yenser is very down to earth, very personable. One of the first times we met, he said he would take care of my boy and I told him he better. I know they are going to take very good care of him.”
Away from sports, Malachi likes fishing in the summer – “he’s not much on doing that in the cold” – but his mother says he’s a “homebody” who enjoys family time.
“He values my father’s advice and guidance. He’s kind of like a papa bear for him,” Pamela said. “They would work out together before school. My dad teaches him different techniques, and I think a lot of his football IQ comes from watching games and working out with Papaw.”
Pamela has always been a UK fan, but she made sure she did not influence her son’s decision, even though Lexington is so close to Richmond.
“As a mother, you obviously want him close, but I really did try to keep my two cents out of his decision,” she said. “He wanted to see what he could do and where he could go, but UK always had a special place in his heart.”
She appreciates what Madison Central coach Mike Holcomb did for him to help him grow his game.
“Malachi has a switch he turns on and off. When it is game time, it is game time. As he grew into his body and got more comfortable on the field, his intensity has picked up and that has made him a much better player.”
Kentucky swept South Carolina last weekend in two matches to clinch a share of the SEC volleyball championship with a 15-3 league record. It was the sixth straight season UK has claimed at least a share of the SEC title, the longest current streak for any Kentucky team.
Kentucky is hosting NCAA Tournament matches again this week. However, last season the Cats were upset by Illinois in the second round one year after winning the national title, and sophomore Eleanor Beavin admits UK may have taken success for granted.
Coach Craig Skinner is not sure “redemption” is the right word for this year’s approach to postseason play.
“I know that this team has grown maturity-wise this year alone,” Skinner said. “I think last year because we had finished the championship season in April and then immediately had a fall season, the thought was we would just keep rolling. I think some things were taken for granted.
“We have played enough tough matches and lost enough this year that I am sure our team will not overlook anybody. It’s a different year and I just do not anticipate us overlooking anyone.”
Kentucky was 25-5-1 last year and 17-1 in conference play. This season the Cats are 20-7 overall.
“Our schedule was challenging, and we knew we had to figure out how to use a lot of new pieces,” Skinner said. “We just were not very good at the beginning of the year at closing out matches. It is hard. We have a target on our back every match. Expectations with recruiting here are to win a title.”
A contract extension through the 2030 season and a substantial $2 million per year raise certainly show the commitment Kentucky has not only to coach Mark Stoops, but also the football program.
Kentucky associate head coach Vince Marrow says that impacts recruiting in two ways.
It tells high school players that Stoops is not leaving Kentucky, but it also sends the same message to current UK players.
“Rumors are around that several schools might be coming after some of our current players,” Marrow said. “I think locking him (Stoops) down is perfect. It was big for a lot of reasons.
“This is a good team. But I am a little worried that we could lose some of our (current) players (via the transfer portal). Just think of all the players we had out there this year making plays who are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.”
Marrow also understands the fan base wanted more wins this season – but so did the coaches and players.
“When we first got here, all we heard was, ‘Just get to six (wins) and just get to a bowl.’ It didn’t even matter if we won the bowl. Now we have been to seven bowls in a row and won four in a row.
“Our expectations are high. I want to be in Atlanta (for the SEC Championship game). Despite what some might think, we are very close to doing that. We have some of the best young players in the country here. We just have to keep them and this contract could help that a lot.”
Beating Louisville to end the season helps, too. It got Kentucky to 7-5 overall but also continued the dominance over the in-state rival.
“Not bragging, but after I took over recruiting in the state in (20)18, I bet we have probably got 96% of the recruits from Kentucky that play in the SEC,” Marrow said. “Mark does a great job putting emphasis on how important this game is. We knew what type of team we had, and Mark knows how to get a team ready for this rivalry. We know beating those guys makes BBN happy and it does help recruiting.”
Just when Wan’Dale Robinson finally was silencing any remaining doubters he might have had, the former Kentucky high school standout had his first NFL season come to an abrupt end.
Robinson was a star at Western Hills High School when he had over 8,500 yards and 118 offensive touchdowns and then had a record-setting season at UK in 2021 after transferring from Nebraska. Robinson had 104 receptions for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns at UK.
The New York Giants used a second-round pick – No. 43 overall in the draft – to obtain Robinson. Against Detroit on Nov. 20, he was targeted 13 times and made nine catches for 100 yards – his first NFL 100-yard game. However, on his ninth catch early in the fourth quarter, Robinson tore the ACL in his right knee and is out for the season.
Robinson had suffered a strained patella in his first NFL game and also had been slowed by a hamstring issue. The two injuries caused him to miss four games but he still had 14 catches for 127 yards going into what turned out to be his final game of the season.
Former Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne is off to a rough start in his first season as head coach at Louisville. The Cardinals lost their first three games by one point and were badly beaten in three games at the Maui Classic.
Payne says he is a “man of faith” who prays daily and will rely on that faith as he tries to rebuild a program that has hit bottom.
“I don’t worry about the outside clutter. But true leadership is how you handle adversity. True leadership is being an example for players. And I tell every player on this team, ‘Don’t you panic. Don’t panic until you see me panic,’ ” Payne said.
“And I’m not panicking. I’m encouraged. I’m going to keep pushing and we’re going to keep working harder. We’re going to work harder on conditioning. We’re going to work harder on defense and every single day we’re going to keep fighting.
“I know that they know I believe in ‘em. I love ‘em. I know they know that. And they love me. That gives me great joy in knowing that through all of this adversity, we still are close. We haven’t splintered. We have stayed together.
“It’s disappointing because we put together great game plans, and all of that’s fine until, like they say in boxing, until you get hit in the mouth by Mike Tyson. Well, we’ve been hit in the mouth. We got to dust ourself off and keep fighting.”
Louisville will host Western Kentucky Dec. 14 and play at Kentucky Dec. 31.
Dontaie Allen was ineligible for the first seven games he played during the 2021-22 season at Kentucky and now is having to sit out seven games at Western Kentucky, where he transferred for the 2022-23 season.
“We cannot comment on student eligibility issues due to student privacy laws, but can confirm the matter is closed at UK and no games were forfeited,” UK athletics said in a statement when asked about the matter.
He had averaged 8.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game while shooting 47% overall from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range in Western’s first three games,
Western found out before it played Akron Nov. 21 in the Cayman Islands Classic.
“Nothing he has done. Nothing we have done. Kentucky played him seven games when he was ineligible,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Their coaches didn’t know it. (UK) compliance didn’t know. So how does the kid know it?
“Nobody can say the kid is at fault for not getting his grades. He didn’t know. If the adults in the room didn’t know, he didn’t know.”
Apparently when Allen decided to enter the transfer portal, Kentucky found out he was ineligible for early-season games during the 2021-22 season.
“Not the spring semester, the fall semester,” Stansbury said. “So they turned the waiver in and don’t get it back until last week before we are getting ready to leave (for the Cayman Islands).”
Allen played 74 minutes in those seven games at UK – all games that UK won.
“Kentucky got their punishment. They got fined $500 per game for seven games ($3,500 total), but we are the ones getting punished now. The kid is the one getting punished,” Stansbury said. “Nothing about that is right, that he is having to pay for mistakes that other people didn’t know, that’s responsible (for that), and punishing us, making him sit games.”
Quote of the Week: “He is as good of a 3-point shooter and as good of a 3-point finder as there is in the country. If he doesn’t have a 3, he’s going to find it with a step back or a separation. I think he is a difference maker for (Kentucky) and I think he is going to open up what is going to transpire as he grows into his game,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll, on Kentucky guard Antonio Reeves.
Quote of the Week 2: “We are all held accountable. I have bosses. I have people that I have to answer to and they do as well. So, if things aren’t right, then we go through that and we go through every game and we watch the film and they have to be held accountable and make sure their position is playing right,” UK coach Mark Stoops, on his philosophy with assistant coaches.
Quote of the Week 3: “I am happy for UK football’s success, but I have been a basketball fan since I was a kid. When November rolls around, I cater my music schedule around big games. I try never to schedule a show on Tuesdays so I can watch the game. I am just a passionate fan and when the team doesn’t play well, I get frustrated,” country music singer J.D. Shelburne, on being a UK basketball fan.{&end}
Bowling Green Daily News Sports Editor
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