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Stoops says Kelvin Joseph wanted to sit out USC game, pushed him to opt out: "I can't just have him out there standing around"

by:Jack Pilgrim11/30/20

Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph announced this evening he would be opting out of the remainder of the 2020 college football season and entering the NFL Draft, a decision head coach Mark Stoops urged him to make.

During Stoops’ call-in show Monday evening, the Kentucky head coach said Joseph approached him this afternoon about sitting out against South Carolina this weekend, but didn’t want to officially “opt out” of the season. Instead, Stoops – who said it was “really an odd conversation” with the standout cornerback – told him he didn’t feel comfortable with Joseph sticking around if he wasn’t going to play.

In his own words, “That’s not the way we’re going to do it here at Kentucky.”

“He came in and visited with me after my press conference today, we had a good talk,” Stoops said. “Kelvin is a good young man, appreciate what he did for us. He didn’t — I don’t know how to phrase it, it’s really an odd conversation to be honest with you. He didn’t want to opt out, but he didn’t want to play this week. Didn’t want to risk injury, I said, “That’s understandable, but that’s not how we’re going to do it.” I can’t just have him out there standing around saying, “I’m not playing in this game.” That’s not a good sign. That’s not the way we’re going to do it here at Kentucky.”

From there, the UK head coach told Joseph it would be in his best interest to opt out of the season and get ready for the NFL Draft, a move the former LSU transfer ultimately made.

“I basically said, “Why don’t you use this time to opt out and get ready.” I still greatly appreciate him and I still will help him, all of those things, but I don’t want anyone standing around watching practice saying they’re not going to participate in this particular game,” Stoops said. “We’re not going to operate that way. I thank him, I like him, he’s got to get to work and put a lot of work in to get ready for the draft. He’s got a lot of talent, but he’s also young and has a lot of work to do. He doesn’t have a lot of film on tape.”

Stoops’ radio comments come after the head coach questioned Joseph’s discipline following Kentucky’s blowout loss at Florida this past weekend.

“It’s not the way we want to represent ourselves at times with the penalties and the undisciplined plays. Kelvin is a competitor,” Stoops said of Joseph, who picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing Florida quarterback Kyle Trask on a fumble recovery by the Wildcats. “He understands once you talk to him and get him on the side and talk to him. He’s very competitive in games but some of it is absolutely unacceptable.

“You know, like the one play on Saturday, there’s just no excuses. You can’t have it, it’s totally unacceptable and it will be addressed. It won’t happen again for a long time I can promise you that. Kelvin is still relatively new to our culture and the way we do things, and we will continue to teach him and that’s our job, to coach, teach and bring guys along. So, we will continue to work on that.”

Unfortunately, we won’t get to see it at Kentucky.

As for Joseph’s draft stock, Walter Football ranks the 6-foot-1 native of Baton Rouge, LA as the No. 20 cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In nine games as a Wildcat, Joseph racked up 25 total tackles and 14 solo to go with four interceptions and one pass deflection. His four interceptions is tied for fourth in college football.

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