Nov 30, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers in the second half at Commonwealth Stadium. Tennessee defeated Kentucky 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky not just a basketball school anymore under Mark Stoops

Fans of the Kentucky Wildcats are gearing up for their Sweet 16 game tonight against the Louisville Cardinals, but a growing faction of the Big Blue Nation is getting excited for the start of spring football practice that began today.

The hiring of Mark Stoops a season ago brought optimism for brighter days ahead for the team that traditionally finds itself at the bottom of the SEC east standings, a far cry from the dominance of the basketball program, but according to defensive end Alvin Dupree that sentiment could be slowly changing.

“It feels like a football school,” Dupree ESPN.com. “We’re becoming that much more of a football school and not just a basketball school. Coach Stoops has done everything to change the culture around.”

To fully change the culture in Lexington, Stoops needs to find more players like Dupre who is the team’s best player, and he’s made waves with back-to-back strong recruiting classes, including a top-2o class this year led by quarterback Drew Barker and massive defensive tackle Matt Elam, both of whom are in-state recruits.

Still, the challenge remains to get out of the cellar of the SEC and develop the talented freshmen and sophomores on the team and win some games and get to a bowl and achieve a modicum of success that the hoops team is accustomed to.

Dupre thinks the Wildcats are in for a surprising year.

“Next year will be our year,” Dupree said. “Next year we’ll come out and we’ll shock a couple of people. We’ll start off with the first couple game in the nonconference, and then against Florida I think we’ll be ready to show how much Coach Stoops has changed the program.”

If Kentucky can pull off what Vanderbilt was able to do the last three seasons under James Franklin and make it to three straight bowl games, Dupre may be right about it becoming more of a football school, especially if they get another 50,000 to attend the spring football game as they did a year ago.

Tags: Kentucky Wildcats Mark Stoops Sec

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