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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops fires a position coach in first offseason staff change

A disappointing season from Kentucky football’s wide receivers has cost their position coach his job.

UK head coach Mark Stoops made his first staff change of the offseason Wednesday, choosing not to renew the contract of receivers coach Scott Woodward after three seasons in Lexington, a UK spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday. Woodward, a close friend and former college teammate of UK offensive coordinator Liam Coen, was working on a contract set to expire in June.

The move comes after sophomore wide receivers Barion Brown and Dane Key struggled to make the jump from year one to year two in the program many expected. Brown broke UK’s freshman receiving yards record in 2022 and Key broke the program’s freshman touchdown catches record that season, but both players struggled with dropped passes and inconsistency for much of the 2023 season.

Key did improve his freshman numbers with 38 catches for 553 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season, but he recorded zero or one catch in three games. Brown’s receiving statistics actually dropped from year one to year two. He finished the regular season with 40 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns after recording 50 catches for 628 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman.

The return of Coen to Lexington after one season as offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams and the addition of top-ranked transfer quarterback Devin Leary was supposed to revitalize a UK offense that struggled in 2021, but the unit largely disappointed. Much of that struggle was attributed to Leary and the wide receivers, who frequently seemed to be out of sync.

Wide receivers coach Scott Woodward spent three seasons at Kentucky, including two working with close friend Liam Coen.
Wide receivers coach Scott Woodward spent three seasons at Kentucky, including two working with close friend Liam Coen.

Woodward first came to Kentucky as a quality control coach prior to the 2021 season but switched positions with wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight after Bouknight was arrested on a DUI charge that was later dismissed.

Woodward served as Coen’s backup quarterback when both played at Massachusetts in the early 2000s. He previously coached at UMass and Pittsburgh. When Coen moved to the coaches box this season after a medical episode, Woodward served as the primary communicator with players on the sideline.

While Woodward’s position group disappointed this season, he had found success on the recruiting trail for Kentucky, helping the Wildcats establish the Nashville-area pipeline that sent Brown and four-star freshman wide receiver Shamar Porter to Lexington. He was credited as the lead recruiter in Leary’s transfer from N.C. State to Kentucky.

With Woodward not returning to Kentucky, UK will open the 2023 season with its sixth wide receivers coach in Stoops’ 12 seasons as coach.

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