Tuesday, May 29, 2007

UK's Football Grayshirt picture firming up

Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

There has been a lot of speculation since February regarding which UK signees will grayshirt in 2007. It looks like the grayshirt scenario is becoming clearer now. There won't be many grayshirts this year. In fact, there may not be any. Strictly in terms of scholarship numbers, Coach Brooks doesn't need to grayshirt anyone.

Here's why. Duran Jefferson's recent felony arrest on a firearms burglary charge will cost Duran his UK scholarship. As newspaper readers already know, Duran admitted his guilt and asked the Covington judge for leniency (which was denied). Duran was already a borderline student, and this latest criminal development is a deal breaker. Unless he is trying to steal a car, Duran will never set foot on UK's campus. (Could be UL material.)

It is now clear that DJ Stafford is a long shot to make it to Lexington. DJ will probably attend Fork Union Military Institute or Garden City CC next fall. Either way, his academic shortfall is serious enough that UK insiders are not confident he can ever wear Blue and White. This is about admission test scores and horrendous personal habits. This kid has no reasonable concept of study habits.

2006 grayshirt Chris Cessna and JUCO transfers Jess Beets and Josh Winchell were admitted to UK in January, and participated in spring drills. Cessna counted against the 2006 scholarship allotment, but Beets and Winchell count in 2007. That means 23 more scholarship enrollments can be made in UK's 2007 class in August. With Jefferson and Stafford out of the picture now, exactly 23 freshmen are scheduled to enroll in August. Remember that 2006 grayshirts Marckus Boswell, Laray Foote, and Ameer Salahudin all fell by the wayside in February when Brooks pulled their scholarship offers. Boswell and Salahudin did not have the academic qualifications to enroll in January, while Foote had cut ties with UK during the fall.

The overall NCAA-imposed roster scholarship limit is not a problem, either. With Zach Hennis and John Logan gone now, UK might return as few as 59 scholarship players in its 2007 soph, junior, and senior classes. If Michael Strickland and Curtis Pulley show up in August, that number could expand to 61, but there would still be room for all 23 freshmen (i.e., besides Jefferson and Stafford) if they are academically eligible.

Not all of the incoming freshmen have been cleared yet by the NCAA Clearinghouse, but Sandy Bell is working on that. The remaining question marks are Moncell Allen, Mychal Bailey, Chris Drayton, Brandon Jackson, Ronnie Sneed, and Antonio Thomas, but all six have a shot to make it. In fact, Allen's and Thomas' scenarios look promising at this juncture.

So the staff's previous plans to grayshirt Jackson, Phil Hibbard, and Jacob Dufrene over scholarship numbers are no longer necessary. If anyone grayshirts, it will probably be strictly about a minor academic shortfall or a personal problem that arises between now and August. Someone besides Stafford could still end up in prep school, too, but not necessarily.

The guy to watch now is Drayton. Chris played well as an OLB for Hargrave last fall. He was one of the better players on Hargrave's defensive unit. Our staff needs him badly after Cessna's and Brandon Thurmond's spring knee injuries. They wanted him to enroll at UK in January, but his fall semester grades at Hargrave weren't good enough to qualify for D-1. He stayed at Hargrave for the spring semester, but no one knows yet whether he made up the academic shortfall. If he got close, summer school is still an option.

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