Kentucky lineman says he's leaving program after bizarre series of events

Kentucky fans fill Commonwealth Stadium before an NCAA college football game against Georgia Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Georgia won 27-24. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)

Kentucky offensive lineman E.J. Price is apparently leaving the team after a bizarre series of events on Thursday morning.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Price, a transfer from USC, left practice before it ended and later sent a series of tweets about his decision to leave the Wildcats football program. The tweets were subsequently deleted. Here’s a taste of what they entailed, via the Herald-Leader:

“I am stepping away from @UKFootball,” he tweeted at 9:43 a.m. just before practice ended. “This is completely my decision. I have great grades right now and look forward to continuing my academic career if possible. I want to thank UK for giving me this opportunity and being a man of his word. I WAS NOT KICKED OFF I AM LEAVING.”

Before announcing his departure, Price seemed to take issue with some Cats staff, tweeting that “Mediocre standards equal mediocre results,” and adding “can’t coach character of (sic) you have none.”

Price said many have been “silenced in the past,” before tweeting, “You can’t preach accountability and you don’t even hold yourself accountable to your players.” He mentioned “slushie cups and nutrition shakes” in another tweet, saying that “it’s a reason guys aren’t gaining weight around here and it isn’t the players fault.”

UK head coach Mark Stoops has addressed Price’s “inconsistencies” earlier this spring. On Thursday, he said things went “off the handle” after Price was held out of a drill due to a pectoral strain.

“We’re trying to protect him, but there’s things we need to help E.J. through as a young man and help him through his future,” Stoops said. “We’ll try to do that as best we can for him.”

Price, a native of Georgia, signed with USC as a four-star recruit in the 2016 class but left the program early in his freshman season. There were rumors Price was involved in an altercation with head coach Clay Helton, but Helton said that wasn’t true and Price left Los Angeles to be closer to home.

Price surfaced at Kentucky in July 2017 and redshirted last season to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements. He would be eligible to suit up for the Wildcats in 2018, but now his future seems to be up in the air.

When Price left USC, Helton said Price had some family issues to deal with and that he is “a really good kid.”

“E.J. has some personal family issues that are going on — a lot of homesickness and missing family really bad,” Helton said. “With us sitting down and visiting, really felt, mutually, that it was important for him to go find a school that is closer to home, where he can deal with his family.”

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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