Tuesday, July 31, 2007

UK Football: Poll Results on the 2007 Season

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

With football season near Wildcats Thunder did a poll on what the fans thought the results of the season might be. Out of 241 votes 102 votes were for a 7-5 record on the season without a bowl game. While a 139 votes were for a different record on the season. Below is the final results, now we'll just have to set back and see how close they are to the final results..

The question was:

What will UK's 2007 Football record be?

  • 9-3 25 (10%)
  • 8-4 45 (18%)
  • 7-5 102 (42%)
  • 6-6 47 (19%)
  • None of the Above 22 (9%)

Monday, July 30, 2007

GOTW:Ky Vs. UNC (2001) Prince hits 6 3's in a row

Prince reigns as Cats crush Carolina

Tayshaun Prince highlighted UK's 1,800th win in school history with a 31-point effort against North Carolina...

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith
called it "unbelievable."

North Carolina's Matt Doherty used both "phenomenal" and "ridiculous."

Gerald Fitch described it as "amazing."

J.P. Blevins' simple assessment: "awesome."

Adjectives and superlatives were on parade here Saturday after Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince put on an incredible shooting display in leading the Wildcats to a 79-59 rout of North Carolina.

Prince lived up to his All-American status --- and more --- by hitting five consecutive 3-pointers in a two-minute span to score Kentucky's first 15 points and send a Rupp Arena crowd of 23,153 into an absolute frenzy.

The senior forward hit his first seven shots, including six from beyond the arc, and finished with 31 points to equal his career high. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded four steals in perhaps his finest performance in a Kentucky uniform.

"It was a remarkable feeling," said Prince, who also had 31 points in last year's NCAA tournament game against Iowa. "To hit four or five shots to get the team going in a game like this, against North Carolina, that's something as a little kid you dream about."

"I've never seen anything like that in all my days of basketball," Smith said. "He was just possessed. His radar and where he was shooting them from were just unbelievable."

Prince's first two 3s seemed rather ordinary -- routine shots from just beyond the top of the key. Number three got a bit deeper in the right corner as he was challenged by UNC's Jason Capel. The fourth was a step-back move off the dribble over Will Johnson in front of the Tar Heels' bench.

And then came No. 5, a 27-footer from the edge of the "UK" logo at center court that dismayed Capel and brought a deafening roar from the stands.

"My ears started ringing after the fourth one," Fitch said. "After the fifth, they were hurting."

"I've always known that he was a good shooter," said Capel, "but he was shooting from the 'K' at half court today. Once he gets it going, all you can do is get your hand up. He was shooting right in my face and I have to congratulate him. He shot the ball great today."

"I know if I'm over on the North Carolina bench, I'm thinking 'What's going on?'" Smith said.

"I don't know if I've ever seen anyone shoot the ball like that," Doherty said.

Kentucky's Keith Bogans, who ironically had one of the worst shooting days in his UK career (1-for-9, 2 points), said Prince reminded him of the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan blistering Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals.

"I was waiting for him to do that thing with his shoulders and start shaking his head," Bogans said in reference to Jordan's famous gesture. "Tayshaun was in the zone just like that."

The Cats' Marquis Estill had a more ho-hum appraisal, albeit equally complimentary.

"It didn't surprise me at all," the junior center said. "He does that in practice all the time. Once he's feeling it, he'll pull up from anywhere."

The memorable effort highlighted win No. 1,800 in the storied tradition of Kentucky basketball and also helped the 11th-ranked Wildcats improve to 5-1 on season.

North Carolina, second to UK in all-time wins with 1,782, dropped to 1-4.

Despite a hand in the face from Jason Capel and some negative mojo from UNC Coach Matt Doherty, Tayshaun Prince drains his 4th three-pointer of the afternoon.(left)

P
rince's fourth trey gave Kentucky the lead for good at 12-10. The lead grew to 33-20 at the 9:17 mark after a putback by Jules Camara, a short hook by Prince and a jumper by Rashaad Carruth.

The Heels stayed close, though, thanks to the play of Kris Lang. The senior center scored 14 points in the first 13 minutes on an assortment of baseline jumpers and nearly indefensible sky-hooks.

Kentucky closed the first half with consecutive baskets by Marvin Stone and a 3-pointer by Carruth to take a 47-35 lead into the locker room.

Already in a tough spot, UNC's task got more difficult as Lang became ill during halftime. He did not start the second half, and the Cats took advantage with a 12-4 run to put the game away. Stone had four of his 11 points to key the spurt.

"Marvin's starting to come on," Smith said. "He did a fantastic job."

The Cats led by as much as 23 on a Blevins 3-pointer with 7:13 remaining.

Kentucky shot 43 percent from the field and made nine of 23 treys thanks to Prince's 7-for-11 effort. The Cats also held a 45-33 rebounding advantage and scored 25 points off 19 UNC turnovers.

Lang scored 18 points to lead the Heels, who shot only 36 percent from the field.

"We stepped up our defensive intensity and didn't let up in the second half," Smith said. "...We cut back on a lot of our defensive mistakes. Today, I thought we played our best defensive game of the year."

"They played great defense and gave great effort," Doherty said of the Cats. "We couldn't execute what we wanted to do against their defense, and that was frustrating... I thought their maturity and experience were the biggest factors in the game."

Kentucky has a week off before returning to the court Dec. 15 against Kentucky State. The Cats then jump back into the toughest portion of their schedule with neutral-court matchups against Duke and Indiana leading up to a highly-anticipated clash with Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals on Dec. 29 at Rupp Arena.

"We're starting to improve," Smith said. "That's the main thing."

Write-up Courtesy of Jon Scotts site.


Also check out what North Carolina Athletics and the UNC team had to say about this game and Prince.--Click Here for Link

UNC Quotes:

UNC Head Coach Matt Doherty

"I want to congratulate Tubby and his team. They played great defense. I knew they'd come out and play hard and they did."

On the Rupp Arena crowd...
"When you come into an environment like this with a young team, you might have some breakdowns and we did. It was an environment that the young kids have to experience. It's a fun to place to play. It ranks up there with Allen Field House (Kansas), Duke, and Maryland. I thought the crowd did a good job today. They were into it and made a lot of noise."

On Tayshaun Prince...
"Tayshaun Prince had a phenomenal night. I don't know if I can ever remember a guy shooting the basketball like he did tonight. I think his maturity and athleticism tonight played a big factor."

UNC PLAYER

Brian Morrison #3

On Tayshaun Prince...
"He was amazing. After he made two three's we tried to key on him but then he kept hitting big shot after big shot after big shot."


Click Here for UK vs UNC Game

Thanks to Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Video Administrator for the video and Bogansback2basil for providing the write-up link from Jon Scotts site. Be sure to check Jon Scott's site out for allot of UK Basketball History.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

UK's 2007-08 Basketball Schedule

Read comments from Coach Gillispie on the 2007-08 schedule:

“Kentucky has always been known for playing one of the nation’s most high-profile schedules, and this year is no exception,” first-year Head Coach Billy Gillispie said. “With 16 SEC games, plus some very challenging non-conference contests, our team will be well-tested by the time March rolls around. It should be exciting.”


Kentucky will begin its formal preparation for the season with Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12 in Rupp Arena.

(Home games in capital letters. All times Eastern and p.m.)

Date Opponent Site TV Time

Oct. 31 PIKEVILLE (Exh.) Lexington FSN South/BB 7
Nov. 3 SEATTLE (Exh.) Lexington FSN South/BB TBA
Nov. 6 2K Sports Classic Lexington ESPNU TBA
Nov. 7 2K Sports Classic Lexington ESPNU TBA
Nov. 15 2K Sports Classic New York ESPN2 TBA
Nov. 16 2K Sports Classic New York ESPN2 TBA
Nov. 21 LIBERTY Lexington FSN South/BB 7
Nov. 24 TEXAS SOUTHERN Lexington FSN South/BB TBA
Nov. 27 STONY BROOK Lexington FSN South/BB 7
Dec. 1 NORTH CAROLINA Lexington ESPN2 2
Dec. 8 at Indiana Bloomington, Ind. CBS-27 3:45
Dec. 15 UAB Louisville ESPN 2
Dec. 18 at Houston Houston ESPN 9
Dec. 22 TENNESSEE TECH Lexington FSN South/BB 1
Dec. 29 SAN DIEGO Lexington TBA TBA
Dec. 31 FLA. INTERNATIONAL Lexington FSN South/BB Noon
Jan. 5 LOUISVILLE Lexington CBS-27 4
Jan. 12 VANDERBILT Lexington CBS-27 1:30
Jan. 15 at Mississippi State Starkville, Miss. ESPN 9
Jan. 19 at Florida Gainesville, Fla. ESPN 9
Jan. 22 TENNESSEE Lexington ESPN 9
Jan. 26 SOUTH CAROLINA Lexington LFS 1
Feb. 2 at Georgia Athens, Ga. CBS-27 1
Feb. 6 at Auburn Auburn, Ala. LFS 8
Feb. 9 ALABAMA Lexington LFS 1
Feb. 12 at Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn. ESPN 9
Feb. 16 at LSU Baton Rouge, La. LFS 1
Feb. 19 GEORGIA Lexington ESPN 9
Feb. 23 ARKANSAS Lexington CBS-27 2
Feb. 27 MISSISSIPPI Lexington LFS 8
March 2 at Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn. CBS-27 Noon
March 5 at South Carolina Columbia, S.C. LFS 7
March 9 FLORIDA Lexington CBS-27 Noon
March 13-16 SEC Tournament at Georgia Dome in Atlanta

NOTE: Games designated BB (Big Blue Sports Network) or LFS (Lincoln Financial Sports). The complete 2K Sports Classic field has not been set -- other regional hosts are Memphis, Connecticut and Oklahoma.

New Coach Gillispie and UK Song

Lwcat
Wildcats Thunder Executive Moderator

Nice new song about Coach Gillispie and UK by RyanParkerSongs Enjoy..

Saturday, July 28, 2007

UK Football: Did you notice these two developments?

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Two developments this week may have seemed small to the casual observer, but they aren't. These developments will alter the chemistry in the rotations at four different positions.

JD Craigman to DT. Ever since Ventrell Jenkins hurt his shoulder in the spring, UK's coaching staff has been scrambling to decide what to do about depth at the critical DT position. Junior Myron Pryor is a standout for one starting DT role. If he stays healthy, Pryor is on the verge of becoming one of the SEC's better DTs. Soph Corey Peters and redshirt freshman Ricky Lumpkin are battling for the other starting DT job. However, with Jenkins out of action, the rotation's fourth DT is converted DE Travis Day, a senior who has played very sparingly at UK to date. DT is a fatigue-prone and injury-prone position. The staff knows they will need at least one more SEC-caliber DT in this rotation. Heretofore, their primary options have been moving OG Jason Leger back to DT, or playing Shane McCord as a true freshman. But McCord badly needs a redshirt, and Leger is in the thick of the August hunt for the starting RG job. So neither of those options was attractive.

Now, Craigman has concluded his summer workouts. His strength has improved, and his weight has risen to 275-280#. At this weight, Craigman can play a situational role at DT. Last year, Craigman did not handle his edge responsibilities very well at DE, but he won't have to think as much now in the middle. This will give Coach Petri a fifth DT without taking the redshirt off McCord.

This also means Jason Leger can remain at RG, where he has a great chance to be the starter. Although the left side of UK's OL is in good hands with Garry Williams and Christian Johnson, OTOH the right side has significant question marks. Keeping Leger at RG will help a lot.

I don't think Craigman will be missed at DE, where he did not see much action in 2006. Jeremy Jarmon, Dominick Lewis, and Nii Adjei Oninku outplayed him in the spring in the DE rotation. Jamil Paris is coming back, and has a higher athletic ceiling than Craigman. Although Josh Minton will probably miss 2007 while he rehabs his knee, finding a fifth DE will be easier than finding a fifth DT. There are several interesting candidates, including a couple of freshman and (if we are allowed to say this) even current back-up MLB Micah Johnson.


Chris Drayton enrolls. This news falls under the "pleasant surprise" category, which has been rare in UK football in recent years. Drayton is a 6'0" 205# prep school transfer. When he originally verballed to UK around the end of the 2005 football season, it was big news because UL wanted him badly. In those grim days, UK beating out UL for an all state safety was noteworthy, to say the least. But then, Drayton failed to qualify for enrollment at UK last year, and had to attend Hargrave Military Academy. At Hargrave, Drayton was moved from safety to OLB, where he played very well. By season's end, Draytion was one of Hargrave's best defensive players. But Drayton's classroom work was not as good as his performance on the gridiron. When he did not qualify for admission to UK in January, many observers wrote him off as a permanent academic casualty. But Drayton has now finished his correspondence courses and summer school classes, and the NCAA Clearinghouse has cleared him. Missing spring drills will hurt him. But OTOH, there is a golden opportunity for Drayton at UK this year. Brandon Thurmond's April knee injury means the role of back-up WLB (behind senior Wesley woodyard) is wide open. Moreover, Woodyard is recovering from wrist surgery last week. Although Woodyard is not expected to miss any games this fall, there will be reps for Drayton in August camp, where he will compete with converted safety Mike Schwindel to become Woodyard's understudy. Whichever kid wins this back-up role has the early inside track toward the 2008 WLB starting job.

And Drayton is very much like Woodyard at the same stage of development. Like Woodyard, Drayton is making a transition from being an all state HS safety in Georgia. Like Woodyard, Drayton has great speed, a nose for the football, and excellent fundamental tackling skills. Like Woodyard, Drayton has been known to lay some "slobber knockers" on opposing RBs.

If Drayton beats out Schwindel in August, then I would not be surprised to see Drayton start at WLB in 2008. But if Schwindel prevails at WLB, then I would not be surprised to see Drayton get a look at safety (where Roger Williams will graduate after 2007). In either role, Drayton can make an impact as a freshman in 2007, then a much bigger impact in 2008.

One other note of interest. Chris Drayton is the first UK signee placed at Hargrave by Brooks' staff who has made it to Lexington for enrollment. Christian Johnson and TC Drake played at Hargrave, but were not signed by UK until after their prep school careers, and were not actually placed at Hargrave by UK's staff. Demetrius Goode signed with Alabama out of Hargrave, while Corey Goodson never achieved academic criteria for admission to UK.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Transition of Kentucky Football

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter Editor/Writer

Once again, football season is upon us. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the transition that Kentucky football has made thru several years of setbacks. The Cats once again looked poised to over-achieve for the second year in a row. People are excited about Kentucky football again and ticket sales are at an all-time high for the football Cats!

Does anyone think we would be where we are today? I would think that a majority of fans would fall among my category: NO WAY! But yes, indeed, here we are, thanks to a coach who wasn’t afraid to take the reins of a troubled football program and try to turn things around.

First, let’s talk about the past years, including the end of one of Kentucky’s darkest periods in football—the Bill Curry years. Yes, get out the Mylanta; we have to go there. Although Curry enjoyed many successes while coaching the Cats and he is probably still endeared by most UK fans, the end was not pretty for the Curry era.

With the exit of Curry, Kentucky fans were hoping & looking for a miracle breakthrough with the coaching change. Next came Hal Mumme, and the well-known “Air raid” years. At first Kentucky fans were probably a little afraid since Hal was an unknown name to the major college football world. Yes, while Mumme coached teams were fun to watch and while Tim Couch did live up to the hype (at least in H.S. and College), there was little semblance of the defense that is necessary to beat the upper echelon of the SEC football world. In the end, UK fans were once again deceived, as Mumme apparently wasn’t doing things by the book. Now no one knows for sure (at least I don’t anyway) if Mumme was the bad guy or not, but at any rate he took the fall for the violations.

Once again, Kentucky football fans were left hoping and longing for football success. Enter Guy Morriss. Leftover as an assistant coach from the Mumme area, he was known for his toughness and defensive prowess. In just a short amount of time, Coach Morriss actually had Kentucky teams looking more balanced, with a greater preference placed on defense. Who dropped the ball with Morriss I may never know, but in the end, apparently Kentucky was not willing to pay Morriss what he was worth, because North Texas came calling via Baylor University and Morriss listened, returning to his home state.

Enter Rich Brooks. Now I must admit, most Kentucky fans must’ve been a bit flabbergasted (yeah, I used that word!) by the hire of Brooks upon learning that in previous years he had been in trouble for NCAA violations. Most fans likely thought that even darker years were coming. Boy, have we been surprised. A very quiet and calculating Coach Brooks has been slowly re-building what had been torn down over a number of years, slowly but surely restoring Kentucky to competitive status. Is Kentucky ready to beat a Florida or a LSU every year? Probably not at this point and time. But one thing is for sure; Kentucky is once again becoming a potential contender for the top 5 in the SEC. So to the would-be naysayer I say take a second look at Coach Rich Brooks and what he has done with Kentucky football. We have a potential Heisman-winning Quarterback, we are coming off a huge bowl win last season, and we are poised to once again re-visit the post-season again this season. All in all, I think Kentucky football is finally coming out of the darkness and into the sunlight once again!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

UK Basketball: Scholarships available for 2008 class

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

One of the most interesting subtopics that has been explored has been the number of available scholarships in UK's 2008 class. Many theories have been proposed, but most of them have been a little short on explanation. This issue is one of the most obvious keys to understanding the staff's current recruiting strategy.

Therefore, I will summarize. Here are the twelve Wildcats currently on scholarship:

Seniors (2): Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford

Juniors:(0) None

Sophs (6): Jared Carter, Ramon Harris, Derrick Jasper, Jodie Meeks, Michael Porter, Perry Stevenson

Freshmen (4): Alex Legion, Pat Patterson, AJ Stewart, Michael Williams

Now, we can debate whether Jared Carter is a sophomore or a junior, but that is irrelevant to the issue of available scholarships this coming November.

And we can debate how many prospects Gillispie will sign in November, but we really cannot debate the following facts...

The NCAA allows thirteen scholarships on a D-1 roster. Unless someone gets into some kind of trouble or chooses to leave, ten current Wildcats will return on scholarship for the 2008-08 season. An additional scholarship has already been committed to Chicago prospect Deandre Liggins.

According to what my sources have told me, UK's staff will be honest with our players, but nobody will be "run-off". In fact, every reasonable effort will be made to develop the current Wildcats in Gillispie's system.

Of course, this does not guarantee anything. From time to time, every program loses players by attrition. UK is certainly no exception. Shagari Alleyne, Adam Williams, Rekalin Sims, Rajon Rondo, Kelenna Azubuike, Bernard Cote, Adam Chiles, Jason Parker, Rashad Carruth, Marvin Stone, and Nate Knight are examples of UK players leaving Lexington before their eligibility expired. It can happen at anytime.

That said, every current Wildcat has publicly announced their intention to play for UK in 2007-08. And this is where the line of discourse should be drawn IMHO, because every current Wildcat deserves the support of our fan base. Unless someone has something specific to share, speculation about someone on the way out the door is cheap. For example, talking about the potential implications of a known injury seems realistic, as long as this is done in its proper context. Frankly, I differentiate that kind of discussion from one that says "so-and-so sucks, and he will leave"....or "scholarships will be manufactured".

On this subject, I have discussed a scenario that could result in an additional scholarship coming open. Jared Carter has suffered three shoulder dislocations and undergone two surgical repairs in the last two seasons. As a physician, I know that a chronic shoulder injury with recurrent dislocations is very difficult for a baseline athlete who must keep his arms extended and his hands high all the time. For this reason alone, I know that Carter will have a very difficult time completing his D-1 eligibility. At anytime, he could decide to end his basketball career. But for now, Jared has decided to give it one more try. Will he complete the 2007-08 season? Frankly, I am inclined to doubt it, but we should give the kid credit for trying.

When a person makes a speculative statement such as....

"UK will take 4-6 commitments for 08."

....They may turn out to be right. Or maybe not. We can look at the success the poster has had with previous projections and gain some rough idea how they may be thinking.

Remember, UK could hypothetically sign three prospects in November, then more in the spring if more scholarships open up after the 2007-08 season. Or, perhaps Gillispie might sign four in November if he is sure Carter won't return for the 2008-09 season. If someone else decides to leave during October, that would certainly give Gillispie additional flexibility.

In view of Carter's shoulder problem, I suspect that Gillispie might very well squeeze four prospects into UK's next class when all the dust has finally settled. And if that happens, posters who are currently saying "4-6 signees" can come back and tell you they were right. But I must reiterate that these are not predictable events at this particular point in the summer, and nobody at UK is promoting roster attrition.

That latter issue is a very key point, because proponents of the "4-6 signings" point of view have previously lead us to believe that Gillispie will "manufacture scholarships" by encouraging current Wildcat underclassmen to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Opinions are like VCRs. Everybody has one, and everyone should enjoy theirs.

By now, most of you are getting to know Mitch Barnhart. I just hope you don't believe Mitch will ever allow scholarships to be "manufactured" at UK by running off players who were recruited to Lexington in earnest. If you believe that, you don't know Barnhart yet. This is important.

So, remember, attrition can happen at anytime. If it does, then a lot of people can claim they were right. And this basketball staff is thorough. VERY thorough. They recruit year-around. If attrition occurs, they will be ready. But there is something far more important here. UK fans need to understand how this AD operates. He doesn't "manufacture scholarships". The day that happens, my support for UK's athletics programs will be over. And I would hope that others understand that perspective. For the sake of disclosure, I actually graduated from UK. I have no motive for supporting UK's athletics programs, except that I am a UK alumnus. And, frankly, I actually DO support UK's athletics programs. I'm not talking about buying hats or attending games, either. I am talking about substantial support. I hope all of you support our Athletics Department, but I'm guessing some people who make these predictions about "manufacturing scholarships" don't.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rich Brooks: Building UK Football

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

When Guy Morris left UK for the money at Baylor Mitch Barnhart faced a daunting task of getting a football coach at the University of Kentucky. I love UK as much as the next man (gal), but there is not much tradition. Plus the program was getting ready to fill the effects of the Hal Mumme and Claude Bassett regime that landed UK on probation.

The internet had a new name every day: Rich Rodriquez, Norm Chow, Walt Harris, David Cutcliffe, Doug Williams and Jeff Tedford. After the fact we realized Bill Parcells had been contacted by Mitch Barnhart.

I remember sitting at my mother-in-laws one Saturday afternoon and hearing Jim Nantz report Rich Brooks would be the next head coach at the University of Kentucky. I went and called one of my buddies and asked, “What the hell are they thinking up there?”

There was A LOT of knee jerk reaction of negativity with the Brooks hire. This was based solely on people googling his name and looking at his total record. I did the same thing, initially.

There are limited posters who post on different web sites we look for and trust their opinion. Those people seemed happy with the Brooks hire and stated he would build the program the right way and was very well respected in the coaching profession. I thought, “OK. These next few years are going to be rocky, so let’s see what we got.”

Coach Brooks put together a very solid group of coach’s. Joker Phillips came home, Steve Brown, Paul Dunn from K-St, Ron Caragher, and Chuck Smith with 5 state titles from Boyle County. I was also impressed he was able to lure Mike Archer from the Steelers and Ron Hudson from Kansas St.

Guy Morris and his 2002 Cats won 7 games. UK was returning Jared Lorenzon and Derek Abney to name a couple from the 2002 team. What UK did lose was Glenn Pakulak, Artose Pinner and Dwayne Robertson.

The season did not get off to a good start. UL and Bobby Petrino came in and beat the Cats in Lexington. Fans were not happy to see: Lorenzon line up at WR and Shane Boyd throw a crucial INT. I guess they were not too happy to see J-Lo running the option either.

UK leads Florida into the final quarter at Commonwealth only to lose. There was the 7OT loss to Arkansas. UK finished the season 4-8. A season that in the minds of many fans should have been 7-5 and a trip to a bowl game.

By the time the 2004 season rolled around PROBATION was doing what it is intended. UK had ~55-60 scholarship players. The down point of a 2-9 season was a loss to Ohio on homecoming. The rest of the regular season was painful to watch. Offensive Coordinator Ron Hudson resigned the week of the Tennessee game and Joker Phillips got a taste of being a coordinator. UK came out and become the aggressor and this was the year the Cats would salvage a bad season by beating the Vols. A TD with less than a minute to play gave UT a 37-31 win and an all too familiar ending to close games.

By 2005 UK was building back their scholarship numbers, but Coach Brooks was forced to play a very young team. An opening season loss to UL lead the way to a 3-8 season. The 2nd biggest move in the off season took place when QB coach Curt Roper left to become RB coach at UT. This lead the way for UK to hire former UT offensive coordinator Randy Sanders as the UK QB coach.

The biggest move occurred when AD Mitch Barnhart decided to keep Coach Brooks. It would have been easy and understandable to many fans to move on. UK needed stability and I highly doubt many coaches would have come to UK when an AD fires a respected coach having to deal with the mess Coach Brooks inherited from the Mumme and Bassett regime.

We all know where the 2006 season ended and the remarkable turnaround Coach Brooks, his kids and his coaches made.

I provide you a painful reminder of where UK football was when Coach Brooks took over.

Now UK will take the field in 2007 with a full roster, experience and upper classman on the field. They will be able to red shirt the majority of a very talent recruiting class. Coach Brooks has upgraded the attitude, talent and speed of UK football in the last four years.

While it was a rocky road to the 2006 season it gave us a glimpse what lies ahead in 2007. The UK football program has been rebuilt with honesty, integrity and a change in attitude that fosters winning.

Thank you Coach Brooks!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rotnei Clarke narrows list down to 10

Lwcat
Wildcats Thunder Executive Moderator

Rotnei Clarke's final 10 schools, in alphabetical order are Arizona State, Arkansas, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts and the University of Tulsa.

Clarke indicates he will take an official visit to UK. I think that a huge factor for Clarke from his comments is how he sees himself stacking up against other guards at the schools he is considering. In short, he wants to get lots of playing time. I fully understand his comments. However, I would think that with Clarke's ability to break down zone defenses....provide a great 3 point shooting threat....and with his great work ethic and attitude.....he should have very little difficulty seeing lots of action at UK and the other schools he is considering!

Clarke had planned on waiting till the spring signing period, but now has said he will sign during the fall signing period so he can enjoy his senior season and focus on winning a state championship.

Friday, July 20, 2007

UK Football: Excitement in the Air

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Name the teams in the SEC East coming off winning seasons with high expectations for 2007. Florida? Yes. Tennessee? Yes. Georgia? Yes. South Carolina? Yes. Kentucky? Yes.

Yes, Kentucky! You read right. The Cats are coming off a winning season and their first bowl win since 1984. UK returns a very talent offensive nucleus of Andre Woodson, Rafael Little, Jacob Tamme and Keenan Burton. Depending on what preseason publication you will see this quartet on 1st or 2nd team pre-season SEC.

Andre Woodson had a magical season. Under the tutelage of Randy Sanders, Andre went from a confused youngster to All SEC. He only had 7 interceptions in over 400 attempts last season. Jacob Tamme was finally healthy this spring and will have a full season of off season conditioning when the season starts. He presents multiple match-up problems for SEC defensive coordinators. He is too big for DB’s to muscle and too quick for linebackers.

As good as Burton was last season, Coach Brooks says he has gotten better!! Not only is he a “catch everything” receiver he is a dangerous kick-off return man. With the kick-offs being moved back to the 30 Burton will give UK’s much vaunted offense excellent field position. Whether by return or teams kicking it out of bounds and UK getting the ball at the 35.

Rafael Little does as much damage returning punts as Burton does returning kicks. Plus, after having a knee scope during last season UK fans saw the explosion from Little he showed as a sophomore this spring.

The one area up for question about UK’s offense falls with the offensive line. UK is very strong on the left side with 2 year starters Garry Williams and Christian Johnson. Eric Scott is very talented at center, but lacks experience. Look for Jason Leger to get first shot at right guard. A position he played before missing the last part of the season with injury. The right tackle position is up for grabs as the Cats enter fall practice. JUCO transfer Josh Winchell, sophomore Justin Jeffries or true freshman Stuart Hines appear to get shots at winning the job.

As good as the UK offense was last season, the defense ranked 115th statistically last season. They were opportunistic being a top 15-20 team in turnovers last year.

If new defensive coordinator Steve Brown can get the defense to improve to the mid 50’s or low 60’s UK is sitting on a huge season.

DB Trevard Lindley is a shut down corner on his side. Look for talents EJ Adams or AJ Grigsby to battle for the other slot. UK returns starters at safety in Marcus McClinton and Roger Williams.

UK has a talented group of linebackers. Wesley Woodyard will be a four year starter and has made multiple pre-season SEC teams. Braxton Kelly will be a 3rd year starter at MLB. Kelly came on strong late last year once his surgically repaired knee became sound. Johnny Williams will be a 2nd year starter at SLB but is getting a huge push from sophomore Sam Maxwell.

Jermey Jarmon will, IMO be a SEC leader in sacks when the season is over. He has gotten bigger and stronger this off season without losing any speed. The other defensive end will be a battle between junior Nii Oniku and senior Dominic Lewis. Also look for speed rusher Jamil Paris to make some noise when he comes in on the 3rd down package.

UK has a talented trio of defensive tackles. Corey Peters, Ricky Lumpkin and possible All-SEC performer Myron Pryor. The issue is that after those three depth becomes an issue. While others might disagree I think there will be some packages Jarmon might move to DT to help rush on 3rd and long.

The schedule includes home games with Louisville, LSU, Florida and Tennessee. Conference road games at Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia will tough orders as well.

I think UK should get wins over: Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, Florida Atlantic, Mississippi St. and Vandy. Home wins verse UL and UT are not out of the question and if UK could get one road win your looking at another 8 win season in Lexington.

There is an excitement around the program and UK football is going into a season with high expectations for the first time in a very long time!

Five Smart UK Freshmen Basketball Players

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

The University of Kentucky had 38 student-athletes named to the 2007 Southeastern Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll, according to a statement released by the SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. Five of those listed were from the UK Mens Basketball program and they are:

Mark Coury, Pre-Management
Jodie Meeks(left), Undergraduate Studies
Dwight Perry, Undergraduate Studies
Michael Porter, Pre-Finance
Perry Stevenson, Undergraduate Studies


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Five UK players named to pre-season All-SEC Team

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

The University of Kentucky Wildcats Football have five players named to the pre-season All-Southeastern Conference team, the players were selected by league coaches, according to a released statement through the league office. Two of the Wildcats were chosen first team, two for the second team and one on the third team.

  • The players chosen are for First-team selections are seniors Andre’ Woodson(quarterback) and Jacob Tamme(tight end).
  • While Second-team picks included seniors Keenan Burton(wide receiver)and Wesley Woodyard(senior linebacker).
  • The Third-team player selected was senior Rafael Little who plays both a running back and kick returner.

UK Football:"The Six Million Dollar Man & The Fall Guy"

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter

In the 70’s, Hollywood actor Lee Majors-[BIO](who happens to be from MY hometown—Middlesboro, KY—our veritable claim to fame) starred as Astronaut Steve Austin (no, not “Stone Cold”) in the hit TV series “Six Million Dollar Man”. He then tapped success again playing bounty hunter Colt Seavers in the 80’s hit show “The Fall Guy”. Ok, by now you are asking: what in the world does this have to do with Kentucky sports?


Kentucky football for the first time in many years (see Tim Couch) finally has another Quarterback with Heisman potential. While Andre Woodson is certainly not a mechanically altered bionic Quarterback, he certainly does seem to have unlimited potential this season. Go ahead Wildcat fans; make the noises you remember from the TV show when you see Woodson running away from defenders this season and using his “bionic” arm to rifle passes to receivers! Is he worth Six Million Dollars? Well, to the Commonwealth he probably will be worth that and more. There’s always the NFL someday too, where Woodson could very well be headed after this season barring some type of career-ending injury. If you examine his progression over the past 2 years, he has done some wonderful things statistically. Will Woodson win the Heisman? That’s anybody’s guess at this point. Historically speaking most players who win the Heisman have been a part of an undefeated-type football team. Will Kentucky win out? That is anybody’s guess at this point too, but one thing is for sure: Woodson and Kentucky have HIGH potential this coming season!

But wait, you forgot about The “Fall Guy”! No, not exactly. Let’s mention the man who is partially responsible for Andre Woodson’s great strides at the Quarterback position, Quarterback’s coach Randy Sanders(pictured left). A once proud assistant and offensive coordinator at Tennessee, things turned sour and we got lucky. Now I will admit at first I was a little leery of Sanders’ ability to run the offense at Kentucky, but I believe I was deceived by the fact that Tennessee and Coach Fulmer made Randy the “Fall Guy” for the struggling Vol’s offense (I have no personal beef with UT or Coach Fulmer). Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the HEAD COACH responsible for all things when all is said and done? Matters not, ‘cause the end result is we have Sanders now and Woodson is shining under his tutelage. So as we look forward to this coming season, reminisce about 2 great old TV shows and get the tailgate supplies ready, cause this season the Cats are gonna air it out!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

UK Football: Single-Game Tickets still available for four home games


Single-game tickets for four Kentucky home football games are now available for purchase. The cost of the Single-game tickets is $30 each, to purchase these tickets click here for more information.

The four games are:

  • Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 1)
  • Kent State (Sept. 8)
  • Florida Atlantic (Sept. 29)
  • Mississippi State (Oct. 27, Homecoming)

Monday, July 16, 2007

UK Football: Regarding UK's LBs

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Coach Smith is lucky to have all three 2006 starters back. April injuries to freshmen Brandon Thurmond and Chris Cessna may have created problems for the future, but this year's LB rotations are composed of veteran players who have grown up as collegiate players and learned their roles together.

Thurmond should return to action in 2008. Cessna's future is somewhat less certain, since the April injury is his second serious knee injury in 18 months.

Looking ahead to September, here are the likely rotations....

SLB- Johnny Williams (Jr.)/Sam Maxwell (So.)/Terry Clayton (Sr.)

MLB- Braxton Kelley (Jr.)/Micah Johnson (So.)/Mikhail Mabry (So.)/AJ Nance (So.)

WLB- Wesley Woodyard (Sr.)/Michael Schwindel (So.)/Patrick Barnette (Jr.)

True freshmen- Ronnie Sneed (MLB, 6'2" 230#), Jacob Dufrene (OLB, 6'2' 210#), Antonio Thomas (OLB, 6'2' 200#)

SLB- In the past, Johnny Williams has sometimes had trouble with proper execution of assignments. He is not always in the right positions, and has been known to be victimized by misdirection at times. His tendency to "bite" on misdirection plays is well known by SEC DCs, and has hurt UK's defense on a number of occasions. However, Williams has excellent raw athletic tools. He is big, strong, and fast. Toward the end of the 2006 season, Williams played his best football as a Wildcat. It is probably not a coincidence that UK's defensive unit seemed to improve as Williams improved. Even so, Williams faces a potential challenge from Sam Maxwell in August camp. Last year, Maxwell played as a true freshman. As Wesley Woodyard's WLB understudy, Maxwell played out of position. This year, Maxwell will be playing at his more natural SLB position. Although a period of adjustment may be necessary, Maxwell's athletic tools are at least as good as Williams', if not better. It will be interesting to see if Maxwell can eat into Williams' PT. The aforementioned Brandon Thurmond's future may be at SLB, but he will have to sit out 2007 and overcome a serious knee injury first. True freshman Jacob Dufrene may be developed as a SLB, but he will redshirt in 2007.

MLB- After missing 2005 to rehab a serious knee injury, Braxton Kelley showed some rust early in 2006. By October, Kelley began to play like the staff expected. By the time UK made its bowl push in November, Kelley had become one of the SEC's top MLBs. In the Music City Bowl, Kelley was dominant. He made several thunderous hits inside the box, and was a major factor in UK's ability to control Clemson's ballyhooed rushing game. Kelley had a great month of drills in April, and he enters the 2007 season as one of UK's top returning defenders. Soph Micah Johnson is Kelley's understudy. After signing as one of UK's most celebrated recruits in years, Johnson has become enscounced on UK's second string by Kelley's rise to stardom. Johnson is strong against the rush, but has had some problems playing in space. Mikhail Mabry sat out 2006 as a redshirt and got stronger, then had a strong month of drills in April. Mabry may see some PT in 2007. True freshman Ronnie Sneed probably redshirts in 2007, but has a promising future in Lexington.

WLB- Senior Wesley Woodyard is UK's best defensive player. Woodyard began his UK career as a safety, but made an early move to LB. He still has safety speed, but hits like a truck inside the box. His ability to pursue laterally has come as a painful surprise to many SEC RBs (not to mention former Cardinal Michael Bush). His prior experience as a DB makes him a superior pass defender in space. Woodyard has no weaknesses, and could be the SEC's top returning OLB in 2007. The big question is who will inherit Woodyard's job after he graduates. Brandon Thurmond probably lost that opportunity when he suffered a serious knee injury in April. Another candidate, prep school transfer Chris Drayton, has apparently failed to achieve necessary academic criteria for fall enrollment, and may be out of UK's picture now. The current front runner is converted safety Michael Schwindel, who will back-up Woodyard in 2007. Since Woodyard seldom sits, Schwindel's PT may be limited. However, Schwindel has a big frame and good athletic tools, including better than average speed for an SEC OLB. True freshman Antonio Thomas may be developed as a WLB, but needs a redshirt in 2007.

UK Basketball: More Recruiting Info

Fewfirstchoice
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst

Coach Gillispie could sign 4 or 5 recruits in 08, not just 3. Something with Carter or Porter(probably both to allow for 09 as well) will happen. Academic scholarship, walk-on, or transfer. The only way Landesberg ends up at UK is if Miller doesn't commit to UK soon, which will happen. Miller is UK's to lose and everyone knows it. Look for a commitment from Miller in the next couple to three weeks. For sure before the end of Aug.

Clarke's recruitment is getting weird. Everything I have heard is that he should already be commited to UK, but he isn't. I am afraid that he and Warren are for sure going to be a tag team duo in college. If this is the case Clarke doesn't end up at UK. If Clarke goes somewhere other than Warren it will be UK. But my gut tells me both end up at Kansas and maybe Oklahoma. But I am still getting info that Clarke will end up at UK. I just fill that if he was going to commit to UK he would have already done so.

From what I have heard in the last week or so I believe UK's class will be finished by the end of Aug. I believe it will look something like this:

  • Liggins - commited
  • Miller - UK's to lose at this point
  • Zeller - but could very well end up being Czyz or Green. Wouldn't surprise me if its any of the 3. I have been told Zeller probably pulls the trigger first.
The fourth ride will be a kid under the radar for UK.When he commits all will be shocked because UK hasn't been mentioned as much with this player. I can't tell who it is just yet but there is a mystery guy that alot of people haven't heard about yet. Some of the other guru's may know whom I'm speaking of.

There could also be a fifth ride but I doubt it. All of UK's recruits will be top 50 for sure and probably top 30. I can see UK's class being in the top 5 and maybe top 3. Zeller will be top 10 or 15. Liggins and Miller will be top 25. And the mystery recruit will probably be top 50 but could be top 30. Either way it goes UK's class will be rockin and I can't wait.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A preveiw of the Gillispie led regime(Video)

Wrathof Rupp
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Enjoy this short clip and leave a comment.

UK Football: Regarding UK's defensive backfield

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Traditionally a weak spot on UK's football team at times, the defensive backfield improved a lot last season under Steve Brown. Now Coach Brown has been promoted to defensive coordinator, and new coach David Lockwood takes over stewardship of UK's defensive backfield.

Karl Booker's leadership will be missed, but overall athleticism and depth in UK's defensive backfield continues to improve.

CB- Trevard Lindley/AJ Grigsby (Jr.)
CB- EJ Adams/Paul Warford (So.)/Shomari Moore (Jr.)
S- Marcus McClinton/Ashton Cobb (So.)/Jordan Nevels (So.)
S- Roger Williams (Sr.)/Calvin Harrison (So.)

True freshmen- Randall Burden (6'2" 175#), Taeido Smith (6'0" 175#), Greg Wilson (6'0" 190#)

CB: Karl Booker has graduated, but the other 2006 starter returns in 2007 with great expectations. After sitting through a grayshirt season in 2004 and then a redshirt season in 2005, Trevard Lindley flashed onto the SEC scene last fall with a headline performance that eclipsed anything previously seen from a freshman CB in modern UK history. On the way to being named to the freshman all-SEC first team, Lindley almost singlehandedly dominated Georgia in Commonwealth Stadium on November 4, then manhandled Clemson's WRs in the Music City Bowl. Without a doubt, the improvement of UK's defense in November was aided by Lindley's maturation. Already, he has been recognized as UK's best CB in the last two decades. Opposing OCs will have to account for him on every play, and he can be expected to control most of the conference's best WRs man-to-man, without much deep help. The question is, who will win UK's other starting CB job? For most of the 2006 season, it looked like Coach Brown was grooming Paul Warford for that job. Warford is one of the fastest players on UK's squad, and he has more natural strength than most young players. But by November, EJ Adams had moved ahead of Warford. Then, Adams performed well in December camp and played very well in the Music City Bowl. After a strong month of drills in April, Adams enters August camp with the inside track on a starting job. Adams has good size and flexibility for a CB and runs very well. I look for Adams to become one of UK's most pleasant surprises in 2007. But Warford should also see the field often. Redshirted JUCO transfer AJ Grigsby could also work himself into that competition. Grigsby was expected to be a factor last fall before breaking his wrist in August and redshirting. Reports out of Lexington suggest Grigsby has gotten bigger and stronger during the offseason. Experienced junior Shomari Moore also returns. True freshmen Randall Burden and Taeido Smith need redshirts, and should be able to get them. Overall, there is more speed, athleticism, and depth in UK's CB rotations than at anytime in recent memory.

Safety: Both 2006 starters return this fall. Roger Williams has improved every year in Lexington. He has always had good speed, but the physical part of the game did not come easily. His work in the gym has paid off. Last year, Williams made some preseason all-SEC teams. He enjoyed a solid season, and improved in run support. He has always been solid in pass coverage. Now Williams is a senior. He should be among the SEC's better safeties. On the other side, Marcus McClinton may be on the verge of a breakout season. The physical talent has never been in question. He is big, strong, and fast. As a true freshman, McClinton was lost. He sustained a serious leg injury early in his sophomore season, then redshirted. As a redshirt soph in 2006, he played inconsistently, but seemed to close out the season strongly. Like many of his teammates, he played well in the Music City Bowl. Now McClinton seems ready to become a star. Behind Williams and McClinton are two true sophomores with bright futures, Ashton Cobb and Calvin Harrison. Both gained valuable experience in 2006. Harrison is an athletic kid with excellent speed and instincts, who needs to get stronger. Cobb is more physical than Harrison, and may be in line to inherit Williams' starting job in 2008. Soph Jordan Nevels is small, but has continued to improve. Nevels had a pretty good month of drills in April. True freshman Greg Wilson needs a redshirt, but might have to play.

If the starters stay healthy, this will be one of the SEC's most improved defensive backfields. Lindley is the headliner who changes games with great individual plays. Lindley has All American written all over him. Williams is also receiving some all-conference recognition, and McClinton can be another impact player. EJ Adams will be tested when opposing OCs try to avoid Lindley's side of the field, but Adams' progress in December and April suggests he is ready. There is SEC-quality depth at every position. However, this is still a young backfield. Williams is the only senior, and the CBs are mostly sophs. If injuries take down key starters for any significant time, young players with minimal game experience will have to step up and play like veterans. We will quickly see what David Lockwood brings to the table.

Friday, July 13, 2007

UK Football: Recruiting update 7/13/07

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

From time to time, I have tried to assess how UK's next recruiting class will shape up..here, here and here..

With two weeks remaining before August camp opens, it's time to update our discussion of the next recruiting class.

Due to uncertainties regarding attrition, grayshirts, and prep school placements, there is no way to know how many prospects Coach Brooks will sign in February. Since UK's 2007 senior class includes only 12 scholarship players, this class may be smaller than Brooks' other UK classes to date. However, academic shortfalls, career-ending injuries, and other personnel issues arise every year. Already, Zach Hennis has left the team with a shoulder injury during this offseason. For variouis reasons, others will almost certainly follow. Inevitably, this will add scholarships to the class by February.

Here is an interim positional analysis of UK's next class....

OFFENSE

QB (0-1)- UK has already received a verbal from Alcoa, TN, QB/ATH Randall Cobb. But Cobb (5'11" 175#) will not play QB at UK. John Weinke recently verballed to Michigan, and Curt Phillips to Wisconsin. Therefore, UK's staff is currently focused on uncommitted Indianapolis prospect MarQueis Gray, who is looking at UK and most of the Big Ten schools. If Coach Brooks cannot sign Gray, he may choose between signing Kentuckian JK Ratliff, signing Georgia QB/ATH Matt Roark, or saving the scholarship for another position. It's still early, but the likelihood is increasing that UK may not sign a QB this year.

RB (0-1)- Andre Ellington has verballed to Clemson. Jeff Demps is no longer seriously considering UK. Unless Brooks signs Georgia RB Xavier Avery or Oregonian Sam Buckingham, UK might pass on RBs in this class (especially if walk-on track star/RB Derrick Locke turns out to be as good as advertised). BTW, Avery is projectible at multiple positions, but UK will have a tough time signing him.

WR (3-4)- With Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson graduating next spring, and with Richie Lyons, David Jones, and Demoreo Ford gone the following year, WR is a prioritized position in UK's class. UK has already received a verbal from Gene McCaskill (Chester, SC). The aforementioned Randall Cobb may also be developed as a WR. The three top uncommitted WR targets on UK's board are Lexingtonian Aaron Boyd, Frankfort's EJ Fields, and Tennessee prospect Rodriquez Wilkes. Brooks would like to sign at least two of them. Just in case, UK's staff is still recruiting Georgian Corey Heard and South Carolina's Jaron Brown.

TE (0-1)- The three targets are Kentuckians Ryan Wallace and Sam Robey, plus Ohio's Justin Staples. Brooks will probably sign Wallace, but it remains to be seen whether he would be developed as a TE or a DE. Staples is a terrific prospect, and UK has a shot. But Staples might also become a DE. If Brooks could sign both, Staples probably goes to DE, with Wallace perhaps staying at TE.

OL (2-3)- The primary targets are Kentuckians David Ulinski and Ryan Benzick, Georgian Trevino Woods, and star Alabama prospect Antoine McClain. McClain will be very difficult to sign, since Alabama and Auburn are recruiting him vigorously. Woods verballed to UK in June, but is thought to be headed elsewhere now. However, Brooks has a solid shot to sign Ulinski and Benzick. Just in case, UK is also recruiting Kentuckian Logan Bell, plus Georgians Gideon Scott and Clint Duggan. DT prospect Matthew Smith (from Louisville) could also fit here.

DEFENSE

DE (2)- Under the TE discussion, I mentioned Justin Staples and Ryan Wallace as DE possibilities. UK is also recruiting Glenn Harbin (Mobile, AL), Lexingtonian DL Wilhite, and Tennessee's Robert McAdoo and TJ Walker. Harbin would be very difficult to sign, since Alabama and Auburn are pushing hard to sign him. UK is vigorously recruiting McAdoo, a stringbean with a build like Jamal Paris, who could develop into a big time SEC pass rusher. Wilhite has a nice frame, but will need a strong senior season at Bryan Station HS to earn a UK offer. UK has backed off Josh Jelesky, perhaps indicating recent progress with Staples and/or McAdoo.

DT (1-2)- The primary targets are Kentuckians Brandon Newman and Matthew Smith, plus Arterio Arnold from Greenville, South Carolina. Arnold was a HS teammate of current UK QB Matt Lentz, and Coach Brooks would like to steal him from Clemson. I believe UK will be able to sign Smith, who could end up as a DT or OG. Newman has already verballed to Notre Dame, but some observers believe he is continuing to consider UK. Signing Newman would be a great comeback for Brooks with a key Louisvillian. UK is also recruiting Elliott Williams from Georgia and Dan Kessler from Pennsylvania, both of whom will be difficult to sign.

LB (0-1)- There is a pretty good chance that UK will not sign any LBs this year. However, Brooks is looking at Memphis MLB DeAndre Jones, Nashville OLB Howard Griffin, and Hoosier OLB Jayme Comer.

CB (1-2)- The primary targets are Charles Whitlock (Chester, SC), Terrence Mumphord (Montclair, NJ), and Reuben Johnson (Atco, NJ). All three will be hard to sign. UK also has a shot to sign Whitlock's HS teammate Terrell Springs. Don't be surprised if Joker Phillips pulls another athlete out of Georgia.

S (2-3)- The primary targets are Lexingtonian Winston Guy, Georgian Khiry Battle, and Brian Sommer (Alcoa, TN). All three are looking seriously at UK, and all three can be projected at multiple positions. Kentuckians Tatum Lewis and RD Reynolds have not been offered by UK, but will be offered by other regional D-1 programs.

SOLID UK VERBALS

Randall Cobb, ATH, 5'11" 175#, Alcoa, TN
Gene McCaskill, WR, 6'0" 170#, Chester, SC

SOFT UK VERBAL

Trevino Woods, OL, 6'4" 280#, Athens, GA

UK LEANS

JK Ratliff, QB, 6'4" 200#, Paintsville, KY (no UK offer)
Matt Roark, QB/ATH, 6'6' 190#, Acworth, GA (no UK offer)
Matthew Smith, DL/OL, 6'4" 270#, Louisville (firm UK offer)
Ryan Wallace, TE/DE, 6'4" 220#, Bowling Green (firm UK offer)

OTHER KENTUCKIANS WITH UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS

Ryan Benzick, OL, 6'6" 300#, Fern Creek
Aaron Boyd, WR, 6'4" 220#, Lexington
EJ Fields, WR, 6'2' 180#, Frankfort
Winston Guy, DB/WR, 6'0" 180#, Lexington
Dexter Heyman, DE, 6'3" 210#, Louisville
Brandon Newman, DL, 6'1" 300#, Louisville (Notre Dame verbal)
Sam Robey, TE/OL, 6'4" 240#, Louisville
David Ulinski, OL, 6'5" 300#, Louisville

UK Basketball: Recruiting Update

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

With less than four months remaining until the November signing date, this is a good time to review the current status of Gillispie's basketball recruiting.

Here is a list of players and prospects who have committed to Gillispie since he took the UK job in April:

  • Alex Legion (2007)
  • Pat Patterson (2007)
  • Deandre Liggins (2008)
  • GJ Vilarino (2009)
  • Dakotah Euton (2010)
  • KC Ross-Miller (2010)

Assuming no one else is added to the 2007 class over the summer, the additions of Legion and Patterson to UK's 2007-08 roster left three open scholarships for Gillispie's 2008 class.

There are no juniors on UK's 2007-08 roster. This means there might not be any scholarships available in Gillispie's 2009 class unless (1) UK doesn't fill all available scholarships in 2008 and/or (2) an underclassman leaves, or otherwise gives up his scholarship. Although things could change at anytime due to any number of hypotheticals, there could theoretically be as few as three scholarships to award in the next two years.

As I have pointed out here on numerous occasions, UK's staff will be extremely careful about giving away these scholarships. The staff must balance UK's glaring, immediate need for baseline players against the long term need for scholarship flexibility. This is a difficult problem, but it is manageable because of Patterson's commitment.

That is why I have been very skeptical here about rumors of more 2007 signings. In the last two months, we have seen 2007 rumors involving....

  • Deandre Jordan
  • Nemanja Calasan
  • Hank Thorns
  • Anthony Jones
  • Andre Clark
  • Leonard Washington
  • John Riek

In each case, I have offered reasons why I do not believe these young men will wear Blue and White. Although some of the reasons were individual, they exist against a backdrop of caution by UK's staff in conserving these three scholarships for 2008.

The case of Washington is a particularly telling example. While other internet sites have been rife with pregnant news of Washington's impending commitment to UK, and of rumors of defections by current Wildcats, I have repeatedly discounted all of these rumors. All along, it has been implicitly clear that UK's staff cannot afford to give away scholarships to academically-troubled prospects with off-court baggage. I don't doubt Washington was interested in UK. (Why shouldn't he be interested?) I don't doubt that he casually discusses his interest with curious people attending AAU games. Washington is a teenager, and we all know teenagers like to talk.

That being said, this example underscores the need to comprehend UK's recruiting strategy from the point of view of the school itself.

Moreover, Billy Gillispie will not run-off UK players. That is not a correct interpretation of Gillispie's coaching style. Furthermore, Mitch Barnhart will not allow anymore UK student-athletes to be run-off. (This was previously a major, defining friction point between Barnhart and OTS, that contributed in some ways to the former coach's departure.) Much has been made of defections from Gillispie's first roster at Texas A&M, but fans need to understand there is no valid athletic comparison between Gillispie's first Aggie team and Gillispie's first UK team. While this returning Wildcat squad is not a great team by traditional UK standards, OTOH it is a much better team than Gillispie inherited at A&M. These kids are not quitters, either. They have been through a lot in Lexington, and they won't be inclined to pack it in now.

The recent verbal commitment from Deandre Liggins gives Gillispie a versatile prospect with superior perimeter offensive skills, who can play three positions. Liggins is the nation's #5 ranked PG in the 2008 class, but he is still growing. He could be UK's most important perimeter commitment in a long time. He has the athletic tools to become a lockdown perimetter defender in Gillispie's scheme. This commitment sets a terrific foundation for the class. For one thing, Liggins is one of the best guards in the entire class. For another, he is Tyler Zeller's AAU teammate.

As explained above, Liggins' verbal commitment leaves two scholarships open in Gillispie's November class. That number could increase if a current Willdcat leaves, or gives up his scholarship. Here, I must again point out that other internet websites have been rife with rumors of defections. They aren't substantive, though. There is an issue with Jared Carter's shoulder. These kinds of injuries occasionally bring an early end to a kid's athletic career (see Zach Hennis). That could happen to Carter, but the kid intends to give it his best shot this fall. If his rehab from recent shoulder surgery does not go well, something might happen with that scholarship. But, as of this moment, that is not a predictable event.

Therefore, UK's staff is currently recruiting to fill two scholarships in November. As I have said, that might change, but it hasn't changed yet.

SCHOLARSHIP #1

Primary target - Darius Miller, F, Maysville, KY

Primary alternatives - Scotty Hopson, Sylven Landesberg

SCHOLARSHIP #2

Primary target - Tyler Zeller, C, Washington, IN

Primary alternatives - Olek Czyz, Jamychal Green, J'Mison Morgan

Some other names still on UK's board - Courtney Fortson, Rotnei Clarke, Willie Warren, Dashan Harris, Chris Singleton, Terrance Henry, Greg Monroe, Brandon Moore, John Riek (2009?).

DISCUSSION

Since the day he took the UK head coaching job in April, Gillispie has been hot on the trail of Darius Miller. When asked about the priority of instate recruiting, Gillispie has typically reiterated the importance of signing Kentuckians as long as they have the athletic ability to excel in the SEC. All of these statements by Gillispie have been oblique references to Darius Miller. Currently, Miller is thought to be considering UK, UL, Tennessee, Illinois, and Kansas. It should be mentioned that Billy Donovan's recent misadventure in Orlando probably doomed UF's opportunity to sign Miller, while Gillispie has been relentless in the meantime. Some close observers of UK basketball believe Gillispie has hit it off with Miller, and that the kid is a UK-lean. I believe Miller is likely to commit to UK this summer, before his scholarship offer can be put in jeopardy by procrastination. However, it is pertinent to note that Gillispie has continued to recruit Sylven Landesberg and Kentuckian Scotty Hopson.

This brings us to a discussion of C Tyler Zeller. Darius Miller may be UK's most immediate priority, but Zeller is Gillispie's highest strategic priority. UK's roster is in dire need of a true center who can RUN THE FLOOR. Zeller has a long, lean, athletic body and a high basketball IQ. Although Georgia C prospect Tony Woods became available this summer while Billy Donovan was distracted with the NBA, Gillispie prefers Zeller. Gillispie is personally recruiting Zeller, and UK is probably in a three-team race with Purdue and North Carolina. Many observers consider Purdue the favorite, but I think Gillispie has a great chance to get his man. If UK whiffs on Zeller, though, then Gillispie may have to decide whether to take Texas C J'Mison Morgan or else sign a PF prospect like Olek Czyz or Jamychal Green.

In any of these permutations, Gillispie is tentatively positioned to sign an exceptional class in November. Liggins gives UK a potential All American guard with great defensive skills. Adding Miller and Zeller would give Gillispie the hat trick. That said, a class of Liggins, Green (or Morgan), and Czyz (or Landesberg) would be very strong. And if a fourth scholarship opens up, Gillispie is well-positioned to capitalize.

So when will the next shoe drop? Look for Darius Miller to verbal to UK within a month. If that doesn't happen, then watch whether (and where) Gillispie shifts his interest as the critical recruiting month of September rolls around.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Final Countdown

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter Editor/Writer

Mid-July is almost here. Sweet relief. That means August is just around the corner. Who else hates the drought in June and July more than me? No, I’m not talking about the drought period in the south, where the biggest majority of people’s yards have turned to the Sahara desert due to lack of rain. The sports drought, that’s what I’m talking about. Can the fans of the Big Blue Nation shift their excitement from Mr. Saturday Night, recruiting Guru Coach Billy Gillispie, to the beginning of football? I certainly hope so. We have a lot to be excited about this season in the realm of college football!

In 1986, the Swedish rock band Europe wrote the hit song “The Final Countdown”. It was the first song released internationally from their album titled “The Final Countdown”, and was number 1 in 26 countries, selling more than 8 million copies worldwide. So without further ado, cue up the video below and scroll on down for my final countdown as I give the top 5 reasons UK fans need to be excited about this football season!

Top 5 reasons UK fans can be excited about football this season:

  1. Andre Woodson. Say what: Heisman trophy candidate and UK football in the same sentence? No way! Yes way! This will be the biggest potential QB for Kentucky since the days of Tim Couch!
  2. Coming off a bowl win last season, the Cats are poised to head to an even better bowl this season. We’re not picky about football bowls in Kentucky. Grant it, we probably won’t see the Cats battle for the national championship, but it appears as though the Cats can get to another big-name bowl again this season.
  3. There is a good chance of beating Louisville this season. Two names bring to mind a soon-to-be-classic battle: Andre Woodson vs. Brian Brohm. Whoa! Talk about your western shoot-outs!
  4. The Kentucky-Louisville match-up has made it to an ESPN network station. Yeah, sure some are depressed that is ESPN Classic, but hey, 2 years ago we wouldn’t even have been on KET!
  5. This is the beginning of a turn-around for the Kentucky football program. Cat football fans thought we had something special when Mumme was here and thought it would continue with Guy Morris. It turns out that when no one else was willing to take on a program in shambles, a guy like Coach Rich Brooks was willing to take the reins. I don’t care what anyone else says, Brooks has done/is doing a heck of a job. If he leads the Cats back to another bowl game this year, I say lock him up for a long period of time.

“The sun shines bright in OUR old Kentucky home…!!”

Monday, July 09, 2007

ESPN Classic to carry UK vs UL football game

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

The University of Kentucky decided to move the University of Louisville rival game as their opening game for the 2007 football season to the third game on the schedule. When UK went this route, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart quickly went to work on getting the game aired on TV.
After getting everything worked out, ESPN Classic agreed to carry the University of Kentucky vs. the University of Louisville football game on Sept.15 at 7:30 pm in Commonwealth Stadium. The game will also air LIVE in Lexington on WKYT and in Louisville on WHAS.

Mitch Barnhart comments:

“ESPN is a great SEC partner, and we’re happy to gain another national television exposure on one of their outlets,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We’re also glad that the Central Kentucky and Louisville areas will see the game live over-the-air.”

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Is No News Good News?

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter Editor/Writer

The Big Blue Nation waited in anticipation yesterday for an announcement from highly touted 2007 recruit Leonard Washington. The 6’6”, 225lb Small Forward was expected to announce his college choice at 2:30pm yesterday (July 6). We all waited, but no word ever came. There are recruiting and rumor gurus on both sides of the fence on this one, and today the word from one side of the fence is that Washington has “unofficially” committed to Kentucky and we are just waiting for his academic situation to be cleared. However, the other side of the fence is reporting that Washington WILL NOT be offered a scholarship to Kentucky and that the scholarship will be saved for the 2008 season. Is Kentucky better off with this move or not? No one knows for sure yet, as it has been said that Washington would be a liability due to academic and attitude issues. So the old adage remains: Is no news good news? While the wildcat fans are waiting and pondering this one I say move on to the next guy cause Billy Clyde sure has ‘em lined up!

On another note, the inaugural Adidas Takes 5ive Classic was in full swing yesterday (Friday, July 6) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Coach Gillispie was in attendance to watch some big name recruits play. Several of the players in attendance were UK targets: Tyler Zeller, Chris Singleton, Chad Jackson, Trae Golden, Derrick Favors, and Shawn Williams. Also there was recent 2010 UK commit Dakota Euton. Euton got off to an outstanding start, scoring 17 points and displaying his sharpshooting with three 3-pointers in his Club's opening-round win. He later scored just two points in his team’s second-round win, but played limited minutes and played the role of distributor to his teammates in a lopsided game.

OBC coach Kyle Tackett raved about Euton's potential, saying:"He has the best work ethic, bar none, of any player I've ever been around," Tackett said. "I've never seen a kid like him… Whenever I call looking for him, I can never reach him because he's always in the gym. He's constantly working on his game."

Asked if he had any reservations about Euton's relative lack of athleticism compared to some of the other top prospects in the event, Tackett said: "Bob Knight once said something at a camp I went to. He said give me five smart guys against five athletes, and I'll win every time. That's Dakotah. He's just knows how to play, and he's a winner."

Chad Jackson, a teammate of Euton, is also high on the Cats. He was quoted as saying that he and Euton were like “the dynamic duo”. It is also reported that Jackson’s mom is head over heels in love with Kentucky, which helps in the recruiting process.

Trae Golden lit up the scoreboard, scoring 33 points for the Atlanta Celtics in his first game. After the game, Golden had this to say of his recruitment by Kentucky: "I liked it up there a lot. I was a little surprised that they offered me because I didn't even know they were looking at me. I never really worry about that. I just let my coach and my parents handle it, so it was a little surprising. But I loved it up at Kentucky." He enjoyed getting to meet Gillispie and learn more about his personal side. "He's really cool, down to earth," Golden said. "I wasn't expecting that from someone of his status."

Chris Singleton also had a good day and was one of the top all around performers of the day. He scored 18 points and knocked down four 3-pointers as Gillispie stood at courtside and watched Singleton’s Atlanta Celtics' win over Zeller's Indiana Elite team.

Singleton, who has now grown to 6’9” and bulked up to 218lbs, is playing with a ton of aggressiveness and confidence. It's easy to see why he's drawn the eye of the UK staff. Singleton had this to say about Kentucky: "The tradition behind Kentucky is a big thing. "They're looking to win a national title every year, and that's something I want to try and bring to whatever school I go to. I also like coach Gillispie and his reputation for developing his players. I know he would work with me to help make me the best player I can be."

Short Video clips of the action can be seen by going Kentucky.rivals.com

So it appears that there is plenty going on during this “dead” period!

My take on Washington and Recruiting

Lwcat
Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator

IMO.....Gillispie after seeing some scrimmages and viewing film of last yrs games.....came to the conclusion that UK was sorely lacking in frontline talent. This conclusion combined with Gillispie's fiery competitive spirit to put UK in the best position to win and be successful this coming yr.....forced BCG and his staff to take a close look at any remaining frontline talent that could make an impact next yr. Washington was the latest of these potential 07 recruits. However, I suspect that while there was definite interest in Washington from the staff.....there was also concern regarding Washington's academics and attitude. My guess is that the scholarship offer was contingent on the info gathered on these two issues. Apparently, Washington's academics was the deciding factor, but I suspect that Washington's past attitude issues made the UK staff nervous.

If it weren't for Tubby's lack of recruiting sufficient frontline recruits....I seriously doubt that Gillispie would have pursued any of these recent frontline players who visited UK. But again......this tells us a lot about Gillispie......he is not willing to write off next yr......or put a team on the court with a weak frontline if he could help it. BCG was hoping to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the 11th hour......it didn't happen although we saw tremendous effort from the UK staff to shore up the frontline. Still, Gillispie helped UK tremendously with his addition of Patterson and Legion to next yr's roster.

Now, it appears the UK 07/08 roster is set.....BCG will now play the hand he was dealt. One thing is for sure......the UK team that takes the court will be extremely prepared.....physically in great condition.....mentally tough......a team that will overachieve more often than not. Yes, UK will take their occasional lumps next yr, but this team will make us proud and any team that plays UK next yr better lace their shoes up tight, because this UK team under Gillispie will never quit....they will fight and scrap for the entire 40 minutes.

UK now has a coach with incredible passion for winning....matching the UK fan base passion for UK basketball success. Like all UK fans.....I can hardly wait until the Cats take the floor under Gillispie! It's a new dawn in UK basketball....and the future has never looked any brighter for UK basketball.