Beginning his second spring practice, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops liked the vibe his Wildcats had during Friday morning’s first practice.“It feels a lot better. It’s hard to compare the first day of spring this year with the first days of spring last year. It’s a lot different, it feels a lot better,” Stoops said. “We know we have a long way to go and a lot of improvement needs to be made, but it certainly feels a lot better going out there now than it did a year ago.

“Its good to be back practicing. It felt like it was a long winter, and we needed that to get bigger, get stronger. So it was good to get back out on the field. We need to get in better football shape but overall, we’re bigger, stronger and fundamentally tougher. And hopefully we’re faster.”

Stoops is hoping a year in his system and under his supervision in the offseason can help to continue to change the culture at UK, which finished 2-10 in his first season.

“I feel very good about where we’re at right now. There was a lot of energy out there, a lot more confidence. We know it’s day-to-day, we’re trying to get better every day,” he said. “Our players know that, coaches, it’s still a work in progress, but I feel good. I felt the guys had a good, strong attitude out there. The guys were making plays, some good, some bad, but we got up and moved on to the next play.

“I feel good about the culture. We worked hard to develop some leadership and some comradery in the offseason. Their attitude is a lot more lively and I like the tough attitude.”

Part of that liveliness has to do with the seven early enrollees, led by freshman quarterback Drew Barker, that are able to go through spring dills as well as part of the offseason conditioning program.

“They seem to be adjusting very well. You’re always a little concerned about these guys. They leave (home) and there’s only part of their class here at mid-term. They seem to be acclimating very well,” he said. “Just getting here and going through, starting with winter conditioning and how we do things. Obviously with the 15 spring practices, that helps, and it just puts them much more ahead going into summer. So if they are going to have a chance to play, it certainly benefits them by being here early. Certainly the junior college players, that really helps out.”

Stoops said Barker had a “typical first day.”