Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
If this works out well for UK, a lot of credit must go to AD Mitch Barnhart. Just a few months ago, if you will recall, Barnhart was taking a beating on this board (and others) from posters who believed he was content with Tubby.
I don't know how many times I read all the "Tubby isn't going anywhere" posts. Everyone was convinced Tubby was holding the cards, so Mitch would capitulate to him. Plus, many fans seemed to think that the media would french-fry UK if Mitch terminated him or ran him off.
Well, guess what? Mitch shrewdly managed to motivate Tubby to look elsewhere by incrementally racheting-up the Athletic Department's oversight of the program. Tubby split, and there hasn't been much of a winmper out of the press. In fact, elements of the press have actually vindicated UK's fan base for our high expectations, and have criticized Tubby for his poor coaching performance in Lexington. For every Dick Vitale who has criticized UK, there have been columnists who have supported Mitch.
Now, it can be debated whether Tubby is a "good guy", or whether Gillispie is too intense. It can be debated whether UK would be better off with Donovan or Gillispie. It is not debatable that Gillispie did a spectacular coaching job at UTEP and Texas A&M, but it is debatable (nonetheless) whether he can translate that into a turnaround for UK's basketball program.
It is not debatable that Gillispie is feverishly trying to rebuild UK's roster. After less than three weeks on the job, Gillispie had a commitment from Alex Legion. He may now be on the verge of a commitment from Mike Sanchez.
I think UK is darned lucky to have Gillispie, but I think Donovan can probably keep UF in the SEC East driver's seat for the time being. Once Gillispie has had a couple of years to recruit in Lexington, we will see who is truly the better coach. Until then, it isn't a fair question. And I will just say again that UF has a lot more roster talent returning next season than UK does, regardless of whom Gillispie signs this month.
Still, I like what Gillispie has been able to accomplish in three weeks, especially when one considers how much more optimism UK fans seem to have now. Let's see how well that optimism holds up next season, when your average rank-and-file UK fans are forced to face the fact of UK's roster talent level. IMO, if they give Gillispie a couple of years to recruit, the story will end happily. But if they foolishly try to judge him on his first season, the fan base will remain divided a while longer.
But in the final analysis, I think Barnhart has done an amazing job with this gambit.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
On April 26....I discussed Billy Gillispie's recruiting board.
UK's current class is Alex Legion, AJ Stewart, and Mike Williams. There are two more scholarships available. Although I have discussed a way in which Gillispie can free up another scholarship, I do not think we will see it happen.
Gillispie respects Steffphon Pettigrew as a legitimate D-1 prospect. He passed on Pettigrew because he believed Legion was coming to UK. In hindsight, it was the right move.
I also believe Jai Lucas may have waited too long. There may still be a conditional UK scholarship offer for Lucas, but I seriously doubt Lucas is in line ahead of the baseline players on Gillispie's recruiting board.
With Legion already on board, Gillispie badly needs to address UK's glaring deficiencies on the baseline with the last two scholarships. The candidates are Pat Patterson, Mike Sanchez, Beas Hamga, and any other High School or JUCO prospects being recruited by our new staff under the radar.
Sanchez will visit Lexington this week, and all signs point to our staff pulling out all the stops for a verbal commitment. Sanchez is doing and saying all the right things to make me believe he will verbal if his visit to UK's campus goes well. Campus sources are tentatively expecting Sanchez's commitment, and I think this would go a long way toward revealing Gillispie's strategy.
Meanwhile, things must be pretty tense at Pat Patterson's house in Huntington. Reports out of Huntington suggest Pat's Dad wants him to sign with Duke, his Mom wants him to sign with UK, and Patterson himself wants to be a Florida Gator. I believe those reports are substantially correct, and this explains why Patterson's decision has dragged out so long. In the end, I suspect the kid himself will get his wish, but we don't know that yet. However, there really isn't anything right now to make a UK fan think Pat will sign with Gillispie, since Florida's Billy Donovan had a huge head start in recruiting him. Watching the kid do the Gator chop on national TV said a lot. OTOH, there also isn't anything to make a UK fan think Gillispie has lost this one yet, since Gillispie did a great job with the recent in-home visit by all accounts. So I think Patterson's decision probably goes down to the wire, with Florida the probable winner.
That leaves open the question of what happens with the last UK scholarship. And this is why Gillispie is preparing to offer Beas Hamga a 2007 scholarship. Although Hamga is currently classified as a 2008 prospect, he could enter UK's 2007 class by attending summer school. (He already has the necessary admission exam score.) Signing Hamga would make a lot of sense for Gillispie, since that would give UK a "5" with SEC caliber athletic talent and defensive tools.
Lastly, you can be sure Gillispie has another option available if he is unable to fill UK's class with the prospects discussed above. Whether or not he would elect to exercise one of those options is another question. With a paucity of UK scholarships available in the next two classes, and with many top 2008 prospects tentatively interested in UK at this early juncture, it might be tempting for Gillispie to bite the bullet and save one 2007 scholarship for the next class.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
Let's start off by thanking Bogansback2basil for this info. He provided what you see below. I have taken the time to verify most of it. if you find something inaccurate, let us know so we can have all the facts for smacking down our friends that root for the wrong team
- All-time wins: 1926 - (NCAA rank #1)
- All-time winning percentage: .763 (1926-596) (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA 20 win-seasons: 51 - (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA 25 win-seasons: 28 - (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA 30 win-seasons: 11 - (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA winning seasons: 86 - (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA Championships: 7 - (NCAA rank #2)
- NCAA Championship Game appearances: 10 (NCAA rank #2)
- NCAA Final-Four appearances: 13 (NCAA rank #3)
- NCAA Final-Eight appearances: 31 (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA Sweet-16 appearances: 40 (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA Tournament wins: 97 (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA Tournament games played: 139 (NCAA rank #1)
- NCAA Tournament winning percentage: .70 (97-42) (NCAA rank #4)
- NCAA Tournament appearances: 47 (NCAA rank #1)
- All-Americans: 39, (NCAA rank #2)
- All-American Selections: 57, (NCAA rank #1)
- First-Team All-Americans: 15, (NCAA rank #1)
- First-Team All-American selections: 20, (NCAA rank #1)
- All-time AP Top-10 Finishes: 38, (NCAA rank #1)
- All-time AP #1 Finishes: 8, (NCAA rank #1)
Just A Little History
*through 2006-07 season
- Kentucky has made at least 1 Final Four appearance in six different decades(NCAA rank #2)
- Kentucky is the only school to win National Championships under four different coaches.(Rupp, Hall, Pitino, Smith)
- Kentucky was chosen by “Street and Smith” magazine as the #1 program all-time based on 15 different criteria, in 2005.
- In 1948, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team represented the United States in the Olympic Games, played in London, and went on to win the gold medal.
- Kentucky holds the all-time longest home winning streak, running off 129 consecutive home wins.
- All-time wins: 832 (SEC rank #1)
- All-time winning percentage: .787 (832-224) (SEC rank #1)
- All-time Conference Championships; 43 (SEC rank #1)
- SEC Tournament wins: 109, (SEC rank #1).
- SEC Tournament winning percentage: 852 (109-19) (SEC rank #1).
- SEC Tournament Championships; 25 (SEC rank #1)
- All-SEC: 109, (SEC rank #1)
- All-SEC Selections: 191, (SEC rank #1)
- First Team All-SEC Selections: 125, (SEC rank #1)
- All-SEC; 68, (SEC rank #1)
- All-SEC Tournament Selections: 101 (SEC rank #1)
- All-SEC First-Team Selections: 84, (SEC rank #1)
- Kentucky has 43 SEC regular season Championships, more than ALL the OTHER SEC schools COMBINED
- Kentucky has 25 SEC Tournament Championships,more than ALL the OTHER SEC schools COMBINED
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
A couple a days ago we posted a article about PRP's Kerry Benson #25(right) a 6' 6" forward accepting a walk-on offer from the University of Kentucky Men's Basketball team. Kerry had scholarships offers from Morehead State and Iona. But turned them down because “Kerry’s always dreamed of playing for Kentucky.”
Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter
It is a rarity for any sports program to have any individual remain with the program for decades. Coaches and staffs come and go!
However, now with UK welcoming Billy Gillispie as it's new head coach along with a new staff.....it's good to reflect on an individual in the UK basketball program that has survived and thrived through all the coaching changes.
I'm, of course, referring to Bill Keightley...the equipment manager. Bill first came aboard the UK basketball program in 1962 under the legendary coach Rupp. Since then Bill has worked under Coach Hall, Coach Sutton, Coach Pitino, Coach Smith and now Coach Gillispie. This is truly an amazing record.......45 years as equipment manager under 5 UK coaches. Now, we all know that employees don't remain this long with any organization unless thay have been outstanding. Yes, Bill Keightley has been outstanding and much more. Bill has enjoyed wonderful relationships with all the coaches and players. Certainly, Bill's title as equipment manager doesn't begin to do justice to the many wonderful contributions he has made over these many years to the UK program. One can only guess at all the wise advice and help that Bill has given to UK coaches and players over these many years!
As a UK fan, and I'm sure I speak for all UK fans, seeing Bill Keightley sitting on the UK bench gives me a sense of pride knowing all that he has meant to the UK program over these many years. Certainly, the UK program did itself proud when it honored Bill Keightley with a retired jersey in his honor in 1997. Bill, along with UK's beloved Cawood Ledford are the only non coaches or non players so honored.
I know Cat fans are all excited about next year with our new coach and staff, but Cat fans will be most happy and grateful that one individual still remains on the UK bench......"Mr Wildcat".
A sincere thanks to Bill Keightley for all he has meant to the UK programs over these many years. Bill, you are loved and respected by all UK fans.....best wishes for many more years as "Mr Wildcat"!
Wildcats Thunder Member
My nephew who lives in Louisville is a private pilot with a company that is owned by a very large supporter of Kentucky Basketball and I guess the Kentucky Program in general.
My nephew starred at DeSales High School in Louisville, walked on at Louisville for a few years under Crum and then ended up graduating from Emory Riddle College in Daytona Beach, FL. - he does have some good insights into basketball and coaching personalities.
He is now flying Gillispie all over the place as our new Coach hits the ground running.
He also flew Tubby up to New York on one occasion to look at a possible recruit. He thought Tubby was just a great guy and Tubby invited him to go watch the prospect and just spent allot of time personally talking to my nephew.
Yesterday when I found out that he was flying Gillispie every which way, I asked him what he thought of Gillispie and he said that he really hasn't talked to him that much he is either busy communicating with prospects, coaches or whoever and then resting for very short spurts when he has time.
My nephew said that Gillispie was absolutely worn out but just kept going.
I don't know if I'm correct but this brings me to a few conclusions about our previous coach and our present coach.
Tubby was just a nice guy that would treat a stranger like his best friend but had no great sense of urgency or real goal in mind.
Gillispie is very focused, tremendously energetic, has his priorities real squared away and his focus on the goal of immediately shoring up our and his Wildcats with immediate needs ASAP and bringing the Kentucky name back to the forefront on the recruiting trails.
I am just becoming more convinced all the time that the chain of events of Tubby leaving with less chaos than any of us anticipated, Donovan declining and Gillispie positioning himself and then Barnhardt bringing in Gillispie was absolutely the best case scenario possible for Our Kentucky Program to be resurrected.
I just hope that Gillispie doesn't absolutely kill himself with his own enthusiasm and nonstop work ethic.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky Athletics Department has announced a budget increase of $300,000 for the UK Men's Basketball program in order to help with travel expenses in recruiting, according to Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
There is a nice article that was done by Fewfirstchoice, and it is well worth the read.
In this article, I want to offer my own ideas about where things seem to be heading with this class, by discussing each prospect individually. With Alex Legion's commitment earlier this week, UK probably has two more scholarships available in the 2007 class. However, there is a way for Gillispie to open up one more ride, and I will offer some ideas about that. The recruiting board, in alphabetical order....
Beas Hamga 7'0" 225#, Decatur, IL
Hamga is a slender, athletic center from Cameroon. He runs the floor well for a huge man, and his long arms give him a chance to become a dominant defensive player at the next level. He has been considered a 2008 prospect, but recently satisfied admission exam requirements for D-1 admission next fall. It is currently unclear whether he will attempt to enter college in 2007 or 2008. But it has become known to my source that Hamga may be a UK-lean at the present time. There is a possibility that Coach Gillispie may tell Hamga that a UK scholarship is available for him right now, but it may or may not remain available in UK's next class. Hamga would not have taken the entrance exam this early if he was not considering a 2007 enrollment. Now that he has the necessary entrance exam score, qualifying for the fall would be a relatively-simple matter, requiring a light class load in summer school. The party line on this says that Hamga is still leaning toward enrolling in 2008. But if he wants to be a Cat, he may have to take the 2007 opportunity. And I think this is a serious possibility. Right now, this story is a little bit under the radar, but that might change quickly.
Alex Legion 6'5' 220#, Mouth of Wilson, VA
Legion is a legitimate upper level perimeter prospect, with outstanding offensive tools and a strong, athletic body. He can't sign a LOI with UK, since he already signed one with Michigan. Michigan released him when they fired Tommy Amaker. This week, Legion announced his intention to play for UK, then he signed enrollment papers that will place him on athletic scholarship at UK next fall. Legion is listed as a G prospect, but it seems very clear that Coach Gillispie intends to develop him as a "3". He is certainly physical enough for that role, and he will make an immediate impact there for UK's program. This, folks, is why Steffphon Pettigrew did not receive a UK scholarship offer. Look for Legion to start by the end of next season, and quickly become UK's best "3" since Kalenna Azubuike. By the time he is done at UK, he will be a star of major proportions, outperforming Azubuike, Crawford, and even Bogans.
Jai Lucas 5'8" 145#, Houston, TX
Lucas is the highest-ranked uncommitted PG left in this class. He was rumored to be a UK-lean for months, but my sources always believed he was wide-open. His outgoing personality and his friendships with other top prospects have caused him to be linked with a number of different programs. Lucas will reportedly announce his college choice in the next several days. The latest rumor is that he is looking primarily at UK and UF, but nothing would surprise me here. Having said that, there is a possibility that Lucas may have waited too long, and could lose his opportunity for a UK scholarship. Wherever he decides to play, Lucas will bring great quickness, advanced offensive skills, and a defensive liability due to his short stature. In Gillispie's man-to-man system, Lucas would always have to use his quickness to overcome his natural difficulty guarding taller guards. For a number of reasons, my instincts tell me he won't be a Cat. But, then again, Lucas might do anything.
Patrick Patterson 6'8" 230#, Huntington, WV
Everyone seems to agree Patterson's finalist list of five schools includes UK, UF, Virginia, Duke, and Wake Forest. People differ on where Patterson is leaning, but I believe he has been leaning toward UF for months. Patterson may still be considering UK, though, since UK is his mother's preference. But I believe he will verbal to UF within the next 7-10 days. Patterson is an excellent D-1 prospect, with a big, athletic body and pretty good feet. He rebounds well because he gets in good position, but his offensive skills are not particularly advanced for an elite prospect receiving this kind of attention. Wherever he goes to school, he will start from day #1. But I believe it may take Patterson a year or so in a D-1 program before he really begins to show his excellent potential. This kid is not Kevin Durant.
Micheal Sanchez 6'8" 220#, Springdale, AR
Sanchez is a solid PF prospect who was highly rated before suffering a knee injury. For a while, he considered signing in 2008, in order to give himself some additional time to rebuild his knee strength and reputation. But, now, Gillispie is offering him a UK scholarship in the 2007 class. Sanchez will visit Lexington next week, and a campus source believes he will verbal to UK at that time, or shortly thereafter. He is a true PF, with excellent strength and athleticism. Recently, he has appeared to be fully recovered from his injury. He appears to be a UK lean at this time, but it may be "now or never" for him at UK. I hear Gillispie will probably not offer Sanchez a 2008 alternative. Given what I have heard this week, I believe Sanchez will probably be a Cat next season.
AJ Stewart 6'7" 195#, Jacksonville, FL
Stewart signed with UK in November. He is a classic "tweener". He isn't strong enough yet to bang with SEC baseline players at "4", but he just doesn't have the perimeter skills to play "3". However, he has some athletic tools. He runs pretty well for a 6'7" guy, and he can get off the floor well, with good timing on his leap. He might become a pretty good SEC transition player. He is a good enough prospect to help our program down the road, probably as a reserve at "4" after beefing up in the gym. And he comes from a state championship program, so he has already had a taste of winning. But he will be recruited-over by Gillispie. That's inevitable.
Mike Williams 7'0" 270#, Alexandria, VA
Here is an interesting gambit for Gillispie. Williams is a "project". His HS numbers tell you that Williams is a raw prospect, and observers who saw the Derby Festival Classic can confirm that. The kid has a nice frame, but he is very slow footed. It will take a couple of years to develop his athletic tools into SEC caliber skills. Moreover, Williams might not be suited for Gillispie's style, since he will probably have to be hidden in a zone defensive scheme. I have received information from a source close to this coaching staff that seriously calls into question whether this staff can envision Williams as a building block for their system and their style of play. That certainly does not mean that Gillispie would slam the door on the kid. The kid signed a LOI in November, and Gillispie will honor it. However, it would not surprise me if a candid discussion occurs between Gillispie and Williams, in which the kid is advised that he will be recruited-over. I think this can be done in a way that is not only fair to Williams, but actually in his best long term interests. Now, Williams' greatest asset is his competitive heart, so he might relish such a challenge. If so, I know Gillispie will not pull the rug out from under the kid. But, based on what I am hearing, Williams won't be a good fit at UK. This presents at least an outside possibility of another scholarship opening up in the class.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky(UKAthletics) made the announcement that Parade All-American Alex Legion signed scholarship papers with Kentucky this week, becoming head coach Billy Gillispie’s first Wildcat signee.
Legion, a native of Detroit, Michigan, is attending Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Rated the No. 12 shooting guard by Rivals.com and No. 27 prospect overall in the Class of 2007 by PrepStars.com, Legion originally signed with Michigan in the fall before receiving his release when the Wolverines fired head coach Tommy Amaker.
“I’m excited Alex is joining us at Kentucky,” Gillispie said. “He’s a guy I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to coach. In addition to being an outstanding young man, he’s a really good shooter and scorer, and because of those attributes he fits in well with our returning players.
“One of the best things that happened during the process of recruiting Alex was that our current players did a great job of encouraging him to come to UK. They are working as hard as the coaching staff is at trying to improve our roster. All of the guys displayed the team-first attitude that is an important part of any successful program.”
”Our staff continues to work feverishly on finishing up this signing class and getting ready for next season and beyond,” Gillispie said.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The NCAA's board of directors voted and approved a ban Thursday to eliminate all text messages from coaches to recruits beginning in August. However the NCAA did say the would look into revising the rule in 2008.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
- Thursday, March 25 1993 -
NCAA Southeast Regional (at Charlotte, NC)
Courtesy of Jon Scott's Site
Can't See Wake Forest for the Trees:
Kentucky continued its juggernaut roll towards the Final Four by annihilating yet another opponent, this time Wake Forest, by 103-69.
Again, CBS cut away after only a few minutes play, when the score stood at 20-4. At the intermission, when UK held a 60-26 lead, about a third of the fans (Demon Deacon, of course!) left rather than watch more of the debacle. Jamal Mashburn, had scored all of his 23 points by that time, including hitting on 5-5 from 3 point range. Mashburn did not play in the game's final 10 minutes - he wasn't needed!
Even though Wake hit on 6 of its first 7 shots, it trailed 34-14 as the Wildcats hit on their first eight 3 pointers. Gimel Martinez broke that string with a miss, but he made up for it by rebounding his shot and sticking it back in for a 2 point basket.
Wake's vaunted Rodney Rogers was never really a factor in this game, as he drew his 4th foul only 23 seconds into the second half, and managed only 14 point for the game.
Kentucky Torches Wake
Wildcats Thunder Member
While I understand UK fans' being upset with Dickie(with his comments about UK fans and the coaching change) and some of them wanting to boo him next season when he appears in Rupp, let me suggest that booing Dickie V. would not be in the best interest of the team we cherish so much. This is because, like it or not, the national news media will likely only use such boorish behavior to further justify the misperception they tend to promulgate that UK fans are just a shade short of qualifying to be Neanderthals. There is no need to feed into an existing bias with more fuel for them to exploit. Besides, Dickie V. and his band of brothers will always have the last word for national television. They control the airways, not us.
We need to take the "high road". We will achieve more credibility, over time, which will help UK's image among the national press corps. We want to have a good national image because it is helpful for recruiting, television appearances and the generally good benefits that stem from good public relations. Booing Dickie V., while serving as a catharsis for many of us, may very well wind up damaging our beloved UK program. So, my strong recommendation is not do it.
At the end of the day, it is all about the outcome, not the process. We want UK to have the best public image possible. Booing a national sports journalist fails to facilitate that mission. Actually, up until this season Dickie V. was always very complimentary about UK. I think he will be again but with less zeal if us fans take a knee jerk response to his previous comments. Let it rest. Sometimes the most effective response to something that upsets us is no response at all.
The only way for us fans to foster a better national image of UK's program is for us to perform at a "higher level" including what we post on this board. The posts we create and the comments we make are being evaluated by national sports writers who, for the most part, have not done us any favors in what they have written about our basketball program or its fan base.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky made the announcement about the 2007 Class to be inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame at the Catspy Awards earlier in the week. The class will be formally inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend, Sept. 28-29, in conjunction with the football game against Florida Atlantic.
The 2007 inductees:
Larry Conley 1964-66, BASKETBALL(right)
Harry Lancaster 1946-75, COACH/ADMINISTRATOR
Marsha Bond 1980-83, VOLLEYBALL
Jim Green 1968-71, TRACK AND FIELD
Moe Williams 1993-95, FOOTBALL
Dom Fucci 1948-51, BASEBALL
Conley, a member of the famed Rupp's Runts, was a three-time All-SEC selection and an Academic All-American in 1966. He still ranks ninth on Kentucky's assists-per-game list, averaging 3.62 during his career. Conley helped the Cats win two SEC championships, and today is known nationwide for his work as a basketball analyst, having done work for NBC, CBS, ESPN and Lincoln Financial (formerly Jefferson-Pilot).
Lancaster was a cornerstone in UK athletics for three decades. As athletics director, he oversaw the construction of Commonwealth Stadium and the Shively Sports Center, along with helping plan for Rupp Arena and directing the revival of varsity women's basketball at UK. He also spent 16 seasons as head baseball coach, but was perhaps best known as Adolph Rupp's top assistant, helping the Wildcats win national championships in 1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958. He is also a member of the state of Kentucky's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst
Coach Billy Gillispie visited Michael Sanchez a 6' 8" Power Forward from Springdale (AR) Har-ber High today. Sanchez was thinking of going to prep school for a year. But now he may go ahead and attend college with a scholarship offer for 2007 instead of waiting till 2008, due to a earlier injury. Some are saying that UK could hear something as early as Wednesday night or anytime through Friday. Sanchez is overwhelmed and may end up taking a few weeks, and may take a visit or two before he finally decides on a school.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
Below is a video of new UK signee Alex Legion. Legion's jersey number is 1. Also you can CLICK HERE to get a good breakdown on Alex Legion.
Oak Hill Academy vs South Medford
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
Reports are that UK Assistant Coach Jeremy Cox was at the Decatur Christian School in Decatur, Il. watching Beas Hamga practice today. Hamga is in the 2008 class and a 6' 11" center. Coach Cox was impressed and a scholarship offer has been made and Hamga is very interested in the Wildcats and Kentucky is a top contender for Hamga.
Some believe that if Coach Gillispie isn't careful, that Beas Hamga could end up being UK's first 2008 commitment.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie(left) is scheduled to make a final in home visit with PG Jai Lucas(right) Saturday afternoon at his home in Houston, Tx. Lucas has five schools on his list Florida, UK, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Maryland. Lucas will meet with each schools coach starting Thursday. After all the visits Lucas will set down and decide what school he'll attend, Florida and Kentucky have been reported as his main two schools.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
Alex Legion(Profile) a Parade All-American 6' 5" guard from Detroit, Michigan signed with the University of Kentucky on Tuesday . Legion is the first high-profile recruit at Kentucky in Coach Gillispie era.
Below is some additional info:
Unlike a national letter of intent, Legion’s signing is not binding. Under NCAA rules, a recruit can’t sign two letters of intent in a recruiting year and he signed a letter with Michigan in the fall. He was released from that letter after then coach Tommy Amaker was fired from the school.
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst
Below is some recruiting news that I'm hearing at this time. So take it with a grain of salt.
Patrick Patterson will commit to UF probably by next Monday or Tuesday from what I have been told. But I was told that he has been leaning this way for a while like we all knew. I live about 15 minutes from West Virginia and about 45 minutes from Hunington, WVa. his home town. I went to the mall in Hunington and this is what was being thrown around. So I decided to call and see what I could dig up. The word had already made its way unofficially to Lexington and Billy G. is now pressing Sanchez for a commit and his signature.
I was told that Michaal Sanchez will visit Wednesday and Billy G will tell him its now or never, the offer comes off the table for 08. I was told from all their conversations with the player and his father they expect him to commit before he leaves and sign probably this weekend. Sanchez if he does except like I think he will, he will be a major player on this team right away. I say its 80/20 he signs with UK.
Jai Lucas now this kid is something of a mystery. Both UK and UF believes they will land this kid. But If Patterson goes to UF(like is being spread around) Lucas will follow. I for one believe it will be a good thing if Lucas goes some were else. I just don't think he is super star talent. While I do think he will be a decent to good point guard(we already have 2 of those at UK in Porter and Jasper) and when they leave GJ Vilarino will be ready to step in and run the show. I have heard that if Billy G gets who he thinks he will Legion and Sanchez, he will hold the last ride for the loaded 08 class. Billy G will get 3 and maybe 4 top 50 talents in the 08 class.
Again take everything with a grain of salt.
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The Courier-Journal did a two nice articles on Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie Monday in their paper. I myself enjoyed reading them about a small country boy and how he had a dream to coach basketball. Billy Clyde's hometown Graford(Population 578) is very proud of him according to this article titled
Tiny Town Big on Basketball, if you haven't had the change to read it. I suggest you take the time. Some nice quotes from his mother and friends on Billy Clyde as they call him.
Here is the article that I mentioned above concerning Coach Gillispie. The Future is in His Hands. Again take the time to read these articles you will enjoy them.
Here's a quote below from Coach Gillispie's dad. After you read the quote I sure you'll see UK just got another Big Blue Fan.
"He's always said money doesn't matter to him," said his father. "He's reaching out for a challenge. He's a competitor."
Five days into Gillispie's tenure at Kentucky -- and 1,000 miles away in Abilene -- his father was talking like a longtime UK fan as he sipped coffee from a foam cup at a Conoco station near his home.
"We'll beat Florida," he said. "We'll beat Tennessee.…"
Monday, April 23, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
Matthew Mitchell was a assistant coach at the University of Kentucky under former coach Mickie DeMoss before he was named the women's Head Coach at Morehead State University. Mitchell was also a assistant coach at Tennessee and Florida.
Below are some comments from UK AD Barnhart,New Coach Mitchell and former UK Head Caoch Mickie DeMoss.
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart had these comments:
“Matthew Mitchell brings incredible passion and enthusiasm for the women’s basketball program at Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “He was here at the beginning of the transition of this program and helped lay the foundation for the growth that we’ve had. He aspires to continue the growth pattern that Mickie DeMoss put in place over the last four years, seeking to take Kentucky women’s basketball to championship levels.”
New Coach Mitchell comments on being the new UK Women's Coach:
“I am extremely honored to be the coach at Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “So many people have put so much work into this program to get it to this point and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to lead the program and continue building a championship-caliber team.“Every move I’ve made has been a mission to prepare myself for this moment,” Mitchell continued. “I’ve also followed my heart and it has led me to Kentucky. Two years ago when I was an assistant here, I felt I needed the experience as a head coach to be where I am today. I’m greatly appreciative of the opportunity that I had at Morehead. I’m ready to be the head coach at Kentucky.”
What They’re Saying About Matthew Mitchell
“I am excited for Matthew and for the program. Having worked with Matthew at Tennessee and Kentucky, I know what he’s capable of and he is very talented. I am confident that he can continue guiding the program on the right track with his leadership. Matthew’s knowledge of the game, his communication skills, his relationships with players, and his strong ability to recruit makes him the total package. The players will respond well to him and he will be able to relate well to the community. The Kentucky fan base will continue to grow under his leadership.”
-Mickie DeMoss, former Kentucky women’s basketball coach
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
After spending a few days hosting Alex Legion on the campus. UK Coach Billy Gillispie traveled to Pittsburgh to watch the entire game of Michael Sanchez a recruit that was thinking of going to a prep school for a year, until Coach Gillispie made him a scholarship offer for the Class of 2007.
The University of Kentucky Assistant Coach Glenn Cyprien was in Houston watching G.J. Vilarino (a UK sophomore verbal commitment) and Brandon Jennings, stud junior Willie Warren and sophomore Shawn Williams along with several other prospects in the Kingwood Classic. Coach Cyprien was Houston the whole weekend recruiting.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky has scheduled a press conference for Monday April 23, 2007 at 2:30 pm to introduce the NEW UK Women's Head Coach in the Joe Craft Center on the women's practice floor. The press conference is opened to the public and the media.The doors will open at 1:30.
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
Before the kick off of the Blue and White game the UK football team and UK fans took a few minutes in silence to honor the fallen Virginia Tech victims from earlier in the week, also the the team wore the VT Logo on their helmets and the coaches wore VT caps to show respect.
Blue/White Photo Gallery
First, some links. Here is the article I made yesterday, before the Blue-White game...
Here is UK's Official Review of the Blue-White game...
Here are Blue-White game stats...
And here are Coach Brooks' post game comments following the Blue-White Game...
This is what we learned from the Blue-White game:
* OT Zach Hennis' football career is over, due to multiple shoulder surgeries and rehab issues. Hennis will stay at UK to earn his degree.
* Redshirt freshman Josh Minton suffered a knee injury in the game. The extent of Minton's injury is unknown at this time. Minton will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) tomorow in Lexington. Minton was walking after the injury, but that doesn't mean anything. I am told the staff thinks Minton's injury may be serious. Other injuries in the game were minor. Walk-on RB Antoine Brown sprained a knee. RB Alfonzo Smith and CB Smomari Moore suffered sprained ankles.
* Although QB Andre Woodson threw several beautiful deep passes, several observers noticed Andre was not sharp in all nuances of the scrimmage. Andre threw two interceptions, and made several other poor throws. At times, he appeared to misread coverages and miss open receivers. Some of this may have been due to poor route running by inexperienced receivers, and some of it was due to great play by CBs Trevard Lindley and EJ Adams. However, veteran observers who watched Woodson closely felt he did not play as well as he could have played. No doubt about one thing, though. Woodson throws the best deep ball I have ever seen a UK QB throw, and that includes Couch, Parilli, and the Hefty Lefty.
* You won't hear any member of the coaching staff say so, but Mike Hartline won the back-up QB job yesterday with 15 completions in 24 passing attempts for 109 yards and one TD. Hartline also rushed 4 times for 10 yards, but the one that counted was a 7 yard scramble when Hartline pulled the ball down because all of his receivers were covered. Hartline never forced anything, and appeared to become more comfortable in the pocket with each possession. Although UK QBs threw four interceptions yesterday (i.e., two by Woodson, two by Fidler), Hartline was unscathed. Hartline showed obvious progress from his recent work with Randy Sanders. Keep in mind that this is Hartline's first spring drills. (This was Woodson's fourth, and Fidler's second). Although he made a couple of poor throws early, Hartline was very accurate after he got into his rhythm. He recognized coverages, and he did not throw into coverage. He lead the Cats on a long second half TD drive, culminating with a terrific 22 yard TD pass to fellow redshirt freshman Terrence Jones that really caught Joker's eye.
* Keenan Burton is the best WR I can remember at UK in my lifetime. Keenan may be a half-step slower than Craig Yeast. But Keenan is huge, physical, very fast for his size, and has the best hands I have ever seen on a UK receiver. He runs great routes, and he has a "second gear" that nobody other than Yeast has shown me at UK. Opponents will be fored to double Keenan throughtout the fall, which will leave Richie Lyons and Steve Johnson with single coverage. That's going to be one of the keys to UK's passing game in the fall.
* UK's rushing game will go as far as UK's OL takes it. This team is blessed with three talented RBs (Little, Dixon, Smith) who combine to form the best RB rotation UK has seen in 20 years, not counting Moe Williams (who was a one-man rotation). However, UK's OL has a LOT of questions. The good news is that Eric Scott has nailed down the starting center job, and will be more mobile than Matt McCutchan was. This means Scott can get downfield and block LBs. The other good news is that LT Garry Williams had a reasonably good spring. Yesterday, Williams played future star DE Jeremy Jarmon to a standoff. Now for the not-so-good news. Frankly, the rest of the OL is in disarray at the moment. LG Christian Johnson missed spring drills for academic reasons, and may be in more trouble than the staff has let on. A campus source says Johnson's problems involve more than grades. He has never had good work habits, and has been involved in a series of disciplinary issues. Johnson has not had much of a profile on the sideline this month, which worries some observers of the program. Johnson's absence yesterday caused a major void in UK's rushing game. With Christian out of the lineup, the LG job has been handled mainly by converted TE Zipp Duncan and walk-on Mike Williams, neither of whom is ready to start for an SEC team (although the staff believes Duncan can become a pretty good player eventually). So if Christian isn't eligible and at full speed by the second week of August, LG will be a problematic position. So here's hoping we will see Christian back in Brooks' good graces in August. On the right side of the OL, both starting jobs are up in the air, pending August camp. At RG, Sefo Mailau Blaylock emerges from spring drills by default, because there was never any serious competition. Quietly, JUCO transfer Jess Beets has been one of the spring's biggest disappointments. As usually happens with JUCO transfer offensive linemen, Beets arrived in Lexington out of shape, and immediately got hurt. Beets basically accomplished nothing this month and, unfortunately, does not look like a factor for the fall. Blaylock himself still plays soft, and is still not in top physical shape, but has made some progress with footwork this month. Fortunately, Jason Leger will be back in August, and will almost certainly beat out the plump Blaylock for the starting RG job. At RT, everyone has been tried. Yesterday, even Eric Scott took a few snaps there. JUCO transfer Josh Winchell received the most PT at RT this month, but did not impress anyone. Then Winchell got hurt (which invariably seems to happen with JUCO transfers). Zach Hennis played some snaps at RT this month, but Hennis has now given up football. Yesterday, James Alexander handled most of the RT duties, but Alexander will be the back-up LT (behind Williams) in August. When August camp rolls around, look for Winchell, Justin Jefferies (who sat out spring drills with an injury), and true freshman Stuart Hines to compete for the starting RT job. I believe that role is probably Hines' to lose, as long as the youngster has a productive summer in the gym and comes to August camp in great physical shape. I think Jefferies will be Hines' main competition when the rubber hits the road. All of this presages the overriding issues facing Joker Phillips in the fall. As good as everyone knows UK's offense can be in 2007, an effective OL and a sound rushing game are still prerequisites for the Cats to produce another winning season. UK has the RBs to get the job done, but Coach Heggins will once again be called-upon to perform a minor miracle with the material on hand for the OL. Without a sound OL, there will be no seams for the RBs, and no time in the pocket for Woodson to find his receivers. So this Wildcat offense will only go as far as Heggins takes it in 2007. As Denzel Washington's executive officer character "Commander Hunter" said to radio officer Russell Vossler in the movie "Crimson Tide": "I know it's a sh*tty deal, but it's all up to you".
* It was apparent again yesterday that UK's defense will be much improved this year. DC Steve Brown will get much of the credit for this, but the natural maturation and hard work of UK's returning players will be just as important.
* At DT, UK has the best nucleus we have seen since Dewayne Robertson and Jeremy Caudill were in Lexington. Myron Pryor is beginning to do a lot of the things Roberston accomplished in the middle of UK's defense. Pryor, Peters, and Lumpkin are upper level SEC talents. Although Lumpkin had a terrific month of drills, Peters was even better (and probably won the other starting DT job). Travis Day will be fine as the fourth DT. Ventrell Jenkins will be missed, but this rotation will be fine if the key guys can avoid serious injuries. On the outside of the DL, Jeremy Jarmon is the real deal, and the supporting cast of Oninku, Lewis, and Craigman is pretty good. It would be nice if yesterday's knee injury suffered by redshirt freshman Josh Minton does not turn out to be serious. It would also be nice if Jamil Paris (who missed spring drills) can learn the value of good work habits and regular class attendance. Sources around the program are concerned that Paris' D-1 career could end prematurely. That would be bad for UK's depth at DE, and particularly for UK's pass rush.
* UK's LBs are in good shape. All three 2006 starters return, and all of them made progress this month. Wesley Woodyard and Braxton Kelley will be among the SEC's better linebackers in 2007. Meanwhile, Johnny Williams should be much improved, now that he has finally learned his assignments correctly. Behind those three guys, Mikhail Mabry, Sam Maxwell, and AJ Nance had a productive month of drills, and should provide useful depth. It remains to be seen what Micah Johnson's role will be, since his academic status is borderline, and he may have been beaten out by Mabry for the #2 MLB job in the drills. The knee injuries suffered by Brandon Thurmond and Chris Cessna are very unfortunate, but this should still be an improved LB corps.
* CB Trevard Lindley looks like a star on the SEC horizon for 2007. In one year, Lindley has gone from being a redshirted grayshirt to becoming one of the conference's top young DBs. Yesterday, Lindley was the star of UK's defensive unit. EJ Adams has basically locked up the other starting CB job, although Paul Warford and AJ Grigsby also had a good month of drills. All of the safeties have played very well, and the staff has realy been impressed with true soph Ashton Cobb. Also, undersized soph Jordan Nevels continues to make strides and play bigger than his physical size.
Who made the most progress this month in the drills? Answer: DT Corey Peters, DE Nii Adjei Oninku, LB Johnny Williams, LB Mikhail Mabry, LB AJ Nance, S Jordan Nevels, CB EJ Adams, CB AJ Grigsby, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Steve Johnson, RB Alfonzo Smith, QB Mike Hartline, C Eric Scott, OG Zipp Duncan.
Wildcat Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
WR Michael Strickland left the team during the fall semester, and tentatively plans to return next fall. WR Darrell Stevens and LB Joe Schuler left the team last fall, but will not be back. LB Ben McGrath, CB Jarrell Williams, and QB Curtis Pulley left the team at the end of the fall semester. Pulley tentatively plans to return next fall for a redshirt season, but McGrath and Williams are gone.
Sixty-three scholarship players are listed on UK's official spring football roster. Two of those (WR John Logan, and OT Zach Hennis) have left the team this spring, reducing the number to 61.
The following scholarship seniors are scheduled to graduate a year from now:
- Keenan Burton (WR)
- JD Craigman (DE)
- Travis Day (DT)
- Steve Johnson (WR)
- Jason Leger (OG)
- Dominick Lewis (DE)
- Rafael Little (RB)
- Eric Scott (C)
- Roger Williams (S)
- Jacob Tamme (TE)
- Andre Woodson (QB)
- Wesley Woodyard (LB)
The staff signed 23 HS seniors, one grayshirt, two prep school transfers, and two JUCO transfers in February. The two JUCO transfers already appear on UK's spring roster. 61 + 26 = 87, which probably means Brooks isn't counting on all of his new true freshmen to be eligible in the fall. We don't currently know how many of UK's signees from last February will need to enroll next January after a grayshirt or a fall semester in prep school. I don't think that number will be more than 2-3 this time. So at this juncture, it seems that Brooks can sign 12-15 prospects in UK's next class, which will include anyone who grayshirts or attends prep school out of the last signing class and then achieves academic requirements to enroll next January. Attrition always occurs over the summer and fall, so the next class might have 15-20 signees when all the dust settles.
With the likely exception of Manual HS lineman (and UK legacy) David Ulinski, it's too early to know who next February's UK signees will be. But it's not too early to suggest what positions the staff needs to fill in this class.
The first conclusion is that our staff will not be able to afford to sign a scholarship kicker or punter. Brooks already has three on the roster, and there just aren't enough rised available to sign another.
With two seniors and three juniors emerging from spring drills as the top five men in UK's current WR rotation, it is a cinch that the staff MUST sign another 2-3 WRs in the next class, and they must be GOOD. If Strickland does not return, and if Brooks can get the guys he wants, he might even take four. It's that serious. All-SEC TE Jacob Tamme will graduate next spring, and the rest of UK's TE rotation is not very good. So designate one scholarship for a TE prospect.
With Rafael Little due to graduate next spring, and with Tony Dixon being a junior, Brooks has to take 1-2 RB prospects.
Brooks will take two offensive linemen. He would like more, but the scholarships probably aren't available. Plus, he just signed a bunch in the last class. He also needs one excellent QB prospect in the class. All in all, Brooks will spend at least 10-11 of his precious scholarships on the offensive unit, even if they consume 2/3 of the overall class.
Defensively, Brooks will have to be more selective. With the notorious exceptions of Wesley Woodyard and Roger Williams, UK's current key defensive players are underclassmen. However, lots of them are juniors now. Brooks needs 3 LBs, 1-2 DTs, 1-2 DEs, and at least one very good DB prospect. The three LB prospects have to be among the top prospects in the class because Woodyard is gone after 2007, while Kelley and Williams are gone after 2008. With Brandon Thurmond and Chris Cessna nursing serious knee injuries requiring surgery, the staff's future plans for the LB rotations have been significantly impacted.
Wildcats Thunder Football Recruiting Analyst
- Bell, Logan OL Owensboro, KY UK-Michigan St-Ohio
- Boyd, Aaron WR/DB Lexington, KY Offers:Cincy-UK-UL-NC St-Tenn-UVA
- Cole, John WR Somerset, KY UK-UL-Notre Dame-Vandy
- Cullen, Kienan K Louisville, KY UK-UL
- Heyman, Dexter DL/LB Louisville, KY UL
- Lewis, Tatum DB Winchester, KY UK-EKU-WKU
- Moore, DL WR Bowling Green, KY Offers:Cincy-WKU
- Newman, Brandon DL Louisville, KY Offers:UK-UL-Notre Dame-Stanford
- Reed, Eric RB Louisville, KY IU-UK-UL-Notre Dame
- Reynolds, DB LB Shepersville, KY Ark-UK-UL-Ohio-Miami, OH
- Robey, Sam TE Louisville, KY UK-UL-Notre Dame-OSU-Tenn
- Robinson, Corey QB Paducah, KY UK-UL-Ole Miss
- Smith, Matthew DL Louisville, KY BC-UK-UL-NCST
- Ulinski, Dave OL Louisville, KY UK(Offer)-Auburn-UL-Notre Dame-Penn St
- Wallace, Ryan TE Bowling Green, KY Offers:Cincy-Ole Miss-OKST
- Albertini, Jason QB Vandalia, OH Uconn-UK-UL-Ball St
- Arent, Matt QB Nashville, TN Uconn-UK-Miami, FL-Vandy
- Arnold, Arterio DL Greenville, SC UK(offer)-Clemson-Ga Tech-UNC-SC
- Brewer, Anthony DL Ona, WV UK-WVA-Marshall
- Burnette, Brent QB Maryville, TN Bama-Aub-UK-Miami, Fl-Tenn-Vandy
- Cobb, Randall QB/ATH Alcoa, TN UK-Ole Miss-Vandy-WVA-Mid Tenn
- Comer, Jayme LB Brownsburg, IN Cincy-IU-UK-Northwestern
- Ellington, Andre RB Monck's Corner, SC Offers:Clemson-UK-SC
- Furr, Deron QB/ATH Columbus, GA Offers:Duke-GaTech-UK-IU-Tulane
- Gideon, Scott OL Jonesboro, GA UGA-LSU-UK-UL
- Jackson, Dontavius RB Franklin, GA Offers:Bama-Clemson-UF-GaTech-UK
- Johnson, TJ OL Aynor, SC Offers:Duke-UK-Maryland-NCST-Vandy
- Mason, Deaunte QB/ATH Nashville, TN UK-Memphis-UNC
- McCaskill, Gene WR Chester, SC UK
- Olthaus, Nick WR Cincinnati, OH Cincy-Clemson-UK-UL-Pur-Vandy
- Staples, Justin DL Lakewood, OH (Offers:UK-Pitt-Syr)Mich-Mich ST-ND
- Thurmond, Marcus WR North Augusta, SC Clemson-FSU-UGA-UK-SC
- Weinke, John QB Tuscola, IL (Offers: :UK-Miami, OH-Nill)Mich-ND-Vandy
- Whitley, Eddie DB Matthews, NC Offers:Colo-Duke-UK-UL-UNC-SC-NCST
- Wilks, Rodriguez WR Nashville, TN Offers: Bama-UT-Vandy
In the mid 1980s I was fortunate enough to watch the rivalry that was Owensboro High School and Apollo whose team was led by Rex Chapman. Rex was “Rex” pretty much from day 1. Through the first 3 years of his career the two schools had some classic battles and it really started getting good once Rex was a junior.
Those of you who grew up in Kentucky know the drill—the two teams who play in the district finals get to go on to the Regional Tournament. So in those days you knew Owensboro and Apollo would play twice during that time. Rex’s junior year Owensboro won the district and then Apollo won the regional. By the time Rex was a senior and signed with UK early, it was literally Beatlemania. Rex’s senior season, both teams were really good. Owensboro was ranked 2nd in the state and Apollo was ranked 3rd. Both teams played in the King of the Bluegrass tournament and many sports writers were saying that whichever team won that region would go on to maybe win the State.
When they drew for the district tournament that year, the first names picked to play each other were Owensboro and Apollo! Wow! This series was only going to go one more game and the winner of that game was going to pretty much coast all the way to Lexington. The game sold out quickly and even the local Cable 2 News channel was going to show the game live.
The game did not disappoint. To this day, I still consider it the greatest basketball game I ever saw live. Rex of course had an incredible game and as you’ll see was hitting nothing but the bottom. What’s incredible is that there wasn’t a 3 point line in high school yet so who knows how many points that guy would have averaged back then. As one sports reporter said to the guys calling it on TV “How do you stop a guy whose shooting range is the whole 502 area code?”
Another Kentucky connection in this game-Owensboro was coached by Randy Embry who was Kentucky Mr Basketball and played both basketball and baseball at UK.
Click to Watch Here
All Credit goes to WalkersGoggles a Wildcats Thunder Member For the Video and This Write Up. Also Blueworldorder a Wildcats Thunder Administrator gets credit for helping.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football and Recruiting Analyst
This article continues a series of April observations....
Following the Blue-White Game, I'm sure additional observations will be in order.
At this point, I think we have learned the following....
Andre Woodson is ready to take it to the next level. It took Andre more than three years in the system to learn to hold onto the football and read defenses. But Randy Sanderrs' hiring a year ago was exactly what Andre needed. Now, Andre is set to become one of the top QBs in the South. Behind him, the competition for the second string QB role will be fought by Will Fidler and Mike Hartline into the fall. Fidler has the advantage of having participated in spring drills a year ago, after graduating from Henderson County HS in December, 2005. Generally-speaking, Fidler has outplayed Hartline this month in most phases. However, the staff has seen Hartline make enough big plays downfield this month to demonstrate that Hartline is the player with the higher athletic ceiling. It may just be a matter of time before Hartline becomes heir-apparent to Woodson.
WR is clearly the team's strongest position. This is quite a change from a year ago, when Brooks wasn't sure he had enough SEC-caliber receivers to run a D-1 passing attack. Now, Keenan Burton is considered a potential NFL first round draft choice. Steve Johnson may also be drafted. Richie Lyons has become one of the SEC's top deep threats. David Jones and Demoreo Ford have shown enough this spring to earn increased roles in the fall. Ford is the best blocker in the WR rotation, while Jones is fast enough to be an exploitable weapon if he can master the nuances of the WR position.
TE Jacob Tamme is healthy for the first time in years. This helps a lot, since the other TEs have not played particularly well. Ross Bogue has held off TC Drake for the #2 TE role. Drake's inability to get stronger and improve himself as a pass receiver are viewed as a setback, since pass receiving is not Bogue's forte either. However, Bogue is a pretty good blocker, while Drake isn't. Redshirt freshman Chris Goode is another of the camp's disappointments. Since Tamme is a senior, it would be nice if someone steps up over the summer and makes a real push for the #2 TE role.
RB Alfonzo Smith is making a big push to take the #2 RB job away from Tony Dixon. Smith is one of the team's fastest players. His blocking and pass receiving skills have improved a lot in the last year. Walk-on Antoine Brown has shown enough talent and development to gain the staff's confidence.
Coach Brooks hasn't had enough healthy, eligible offensive linemen in camp this spring to do everything he wants to do in the drills. With four returning linemen (J. Gonzalez, J. Leger, J. Jefferies, C. Johnson) sitting out spring drills, two converted TEs (E. Scott, Z. Duncan) and two JUCO transfers (J. Beets, J. Winchell) have had golden opportunities this month to improve their stock and move up on the depth chart for next fall. Scott is the biggest winner. Scott has firmly nailed down the starting center role for the fall, and nobody is going to unseat him in August. That means injured center Jorge Gonzalez will probably be Scott's understudy in 2007, and might be able to work himself into the heir-apparent role for the center job one year from now. Winchell is another winner, because he will leave spring drills with a tentative hold on the starting RT job. However, Josh will have to fend off Jefferies and true freshman Stuart Hines in August camp, and I don't think he has shown enough this month to convince me he can do it. I think RT will be an interesting competition in August. Meanwhile, Duncan has put himself in a position to compete for a starting OG role a year from now, but Zipp isn't physically thick enough and strong enough right now to start SEC games in 2007. The biggest loser this spring is Beets, who came to campus out of shape and has been injured. Another loser is Sefo Mailau Blaylock, who still does not understand the importance of physical conditioning.
I look for the OL depth chart in the fall to shape up something like this....
- LT - G. Williams/J. Alexander/Z. Hennis
- LG- *C. Johnson/Z. Duncan/M. Williams/D. Luck
- C- E. Scott/*J. Gonzalez
- RG- J. Leger/J. Beets/*S. Blaylock/M. Davis
- RT- S. Hines/J. Winchell/J. Jefferies
* - if academically eligible
Three key injuries have been sustained by UK defensive players this month. Brandon Thurmond and Chris Cessna will sit out 2007 to rehab surgical repaired knees, and Ventrell Jenkins will probably miss the fall season rehabbing from a surgical shoulder reconstruction. Jenkins and Cessna both have a redshirt option available. Thurmond does not.
Jeremy Jarmon and Myron Pryor have solidified their roles as UK's two top defensive linemen this month. Pryor is the key to any improvement in UK's defense against the rush, since he can occupy two blockers and control his gap. Jarmon is the key to UK's pass rush (which needs to improve in 2007). The other two starting roles on UK's DL will be contested into August. Corey Peters and Ricky Lumpkin are competing for the other starting DT job. Based on his performance this month, Peters has established an edge over Lumpkin for the starting job. But I don't think the staff will declare a winner yet since they believe Lumpkin may have the higher athletic ceiling. Dominick Lewis and Nii Adjei Oninku are fighting a robust battle for the other starting DE job. Lewis should win this competition, since he is a senior and the physically stronger player. However, Oninku has had a great month of drills, and may actually be in the process of beating out Lewis. Oninku is a high motor player with good feet, who can remind one a little bit at times of Elvis Dumervil. Lewis has only been a DE for two years, and sometimes he just doesn't play as effectively as Oninku. But this battle is still neck and neck. I don't think the staff will declare a winner this month. Former DE Travis Day has made a successful transition to DT, and will become the fourth man in the fall DT rotation. Redshirt freshman DE Josh Minton has had a pretty good month, but needs to get bigger before his role will increase. DE Jamil Paris missed spring drills due to disciplinary issues, and it will be interesting to see if Paris is still with the team in the fall.
The three returning starting LBs (W. Woodyard, B. Kelley, J. Williams) have solidified their starting roles with positive performances this month. At MLB, redshirt Mikhail Mabry has made a big push, and is now #2 behind Kelley. Sam Maxwell and AJ Nance have also played well. Generally-speaking, Micah Johnson has not.
New DB coach David Lockwood has had a great first month in the program, as his players have given one of the strongest performances in the drills. Returning starters Trevard Lindley, Roger Williams, and Marcus McClinton have improved, and Lindley is playing like a star. Although EJ Adams appears to have an edge for the other starting CB job, he is getting a lot of competition from AJ Grigsby and Paul Warford. Jordan Nevels has also had a good month of drills. Adams should eventually win this job, but I don't think the staff will name a winner this month. Young safeties Calvin Harrison and Ashton Cobb have had a great month of drills, and might push the starters in August.
This month, Brad Hart has put a resounding end to any speculation that Jason Dickerson's graduation might leave UK without a solid long snapper. To the staff's great relief, Hart has been very solid. Ever so gradually, Tim Masthay continues to make measured progress with his punting tempo and mechanics. Masthay's punts have adequate distance and hand time, but he still tends to be too deliberate and slow in taking his three steps and getting off his kicks. Masthay is doing just enough to give the staff reasons to hope for improvement, but he hasn't made a big move yet. Placekickers, Lones, Seiber and JJ Housley have not had a particularly good month of drills. Privately, some members of the staff are beginning to wonder if Seiber has the mental make-up of a successful D-1 placekicker. In the last week or so, I am hearing people around the program talking more and more about true freshman Ryan Tydlacka.