Thursday, August 30, 2007

EKU vs UK Football Preview

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst












The University of Kentucky football team is coming off their most successful season since 1984. UK has had successful seasons since then, but it seemed like for the most part it was “one and done.”

UK and Coach Brooks realize there are a lot of skeptics wondering can UK put two successful seasons together. Talent is not an issue. For the first time since the shame and embarrassment of probation brought on by Hal Mumme and Claude Bassett UK has depth. Standing in the way is a schedule that includes three BCS teams from last season in UL, Florida and LSU. Add a home game with Tennessee and road stops at Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia and well, you get the point!

The beginning of the road to success begins this Saturday against Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels once a fixture in the top 10 of Division 1A has a talented group of players.

Quarterback Allan Wade transferred from Wake Forrest. Running Back Bobby Washington originally signed with NC State teams with Harrodsburg star Mark Dunn to form a very solid twosome.

Coach Brooks said in his press conference this week to look for EKU to do some of things LA Monroe did last year. As someone who sat in the stands that day I can tell you that was not a pleasant sight to watch!! The spread/read option teams sliced and diced UK’s defense like water through a sieve.

The Colonels defense will be anchored by former FSU and 4 star recruit Aaron Jones. LB Jules Montair is a former WVA signee.

The Cats need to come out of the gate quickly and put this one to bed early. UK needs to get a good look how Mike Hartline looks under fire. I’m not the coach but I would give him a series early while things still matter.

EKU hopes to bounce back in the OVC and make the D1 playoffs. Being an EKU alum I hope they do. UK has too much talent and fire power.

UK 52 EKU 17

UK Hoops add two walk-ons for 2007-08 season

The University of Kentucky women's basketball team add two walk-ons, Chelsea Chowning and Ali Lomax for the 2007-08 basketball season.

Chowning comments:

"Basketball had been such a huge part of my life for so long that I wanted to take advantage of my final year of eligibility," she said. "I have been around UK's program with great coaches and players for the last two years, and I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity."

Coach Mitchell comments on Lomax:

"She is a very strong player and a very good athlete," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said in a release. "She has a lot of intangibles and is always around the ball defensively."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WT Blog does Interview for The Wildcat Blog

The Wildcat Blog is doing a feature at his blog highlighting UK bloggers on the net, that he came up with that he thought his viewers would find interesting to read. The Wildcat Blog ask Wildcats Thunder Forums and Wildcats Thunder Blog to participate and we were excited to do this for our our good friend a The Wildcat Blog. Now you will find out a little info about the people that share with you their Kentucky thoughts, news and more. The interview subjects range from personal thoughts about the program to predictions on the upcoming basketball and football season. Some of the other bloggers include A Sea of Blue, UK Bias, Fire Billy, Aaron's UK Blog, Go Big Blue Cats, Chris Diggs to name a few and all of these are great blogs. So be sure to stop by The Wildcat Blog to read our reply here. While you're there let The Wildcat Blog know what you thing of his blog, we at Wildcats Thunder enjoy reading and checking out his blog on a daily basis and we are sure you will too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

UK Football: 2007 Season Predictions

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
It's that time of year to make a fool of myself!! Of course the woman who lives in house says I do it daily!! This unfortunately is for everyone to see.

EKU
This one should be over quickly.
UK 52-10
(1-0)

Kent ST
A trap game for the Cats. Kent St is a SOLID football team and picked to with the MAC. UK has to come out early and take Kent St out of the game. We can not let them hang around. It will be close early and maybe a half. UK pulls away late due to depth and talent.
UK 41-17
(2-0)

Louisville
Its been sometime since UK has beaten the school up I-64. IMO this is the 1st time the sides have been close to equal since the debacle that was CM Newton, Hal Mumme and Claude Bassett. Not to doubt Steve Kragthorpe because I am not familar with his body of work at Tulsa, but he ain't no Bobby Petrino. UL has jumped on UK early the last 2 years and it was over by halftime, despite a late surge by UK in 2005.
UK 34-27
(3-0)

@Arkansas
As important as the UL game was to fans, this is the one that really counts. UK thinks they have a chance to make noise in the SEC East. The games that count in the SEC are not ones vs. in-state rivals but conference games. Can UK get up for another tough game two weeks in a row? Can they win on the road in the SEC? This one could set the tone, good or bad for the season.
UK 27 ARK 24
(4-0, 1-0)

Florida Atlantic
The "Pipe" returns home in Howard Schnellenberger. I think he was the choice instead of the Mumme hire but UK ruins his homecoming.
UK 55 FA 21
(5-0, 1-0)

@South Carolina
The first of a 3 game stretch that might be the toughest I can remember in sometime. Steve Supperior has been labeled the savior in Columbia. A Thursday night ESPN game with the world watching. UK came out flat last year vs. SC at home and IMO the 24-17 score was not that close.
SC 28 UK 21
(5-1, 1-1)

LSU
Outside of USC (the real one..out west) this might be the 2nd most talented team in the country. No Bluegrass Miracle will be needed but don't look for a 49-0 pasting either.
LSU 35 UK 24
(5-2, 1-2)

Florida
Remember the days of Fran Curci when UF visited late in the season and the bermuda grass had turned brown? Curci always changed sidelines so UF would have to spend the day in the shade! The defending national champs lost a bunch. I am not the Tim Tebow believer everyone else is, but UF is a very talented bunch.
Florida 28 UK 26
(5-3, 1-3)

Mississippi State
A team losing 3 straight needs to get back on track. UK's season turned with a win in Starkville last year. MSU will serve the Cats well as they begin the final push of the season as UK becomes bowl eligible.
UK 45 MSU 17
(6-3, 2-3)

@Vanderbilt
Could the 2007 'Dores be the 2006 'Cats? There is alot of speculation they can. Rafael Little has been the Vandy killer the last two season. Raffy has another huge day.
UK 42 VU 31
(7-3, 3-3)

@ Georgia
I bet you the $6 in my pocket right now UGA remembers this game from last year. UGA is talented, but they will be playing alot of young OL. How will those kids proceed as the season goes. It hard to win between the hedges but UK will give UGA a fight.
UGA 34 UK 31
(7-4, 3-4)

Tennessee
Would you rather beat UL or Fat Phil? UK has been so close vs. the Vols. They were within 4 yards last year. Jokers 1st game as OC saw UT beat the Cats in the last minute. I don't this one is that close as Commonwealth Stadium sends out their favorite senior class since Derek Ramsey in style and lots of tears. As Fulmer is fired on Monday.
UK 42 UT 27
(8-4, 4-4)

This sets UK up for a Peach Bowl (I can't say Chik-Fil-A) or Outback Bowl. My guess is UK winds up in Atlanta and the whole city turns blue New Years Eve.

Well, save it, print it or bumped it to the top and laugh at the end of the year or get on board as I become the next Ms. Cleo!!
!

Monday, August 27, 2007

UK Football: Colors of Victory

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Sports Editor/Writer

With less than one week remaining until kickoff for football around the nation and in the Big Blue Nation, much is a-buzz around the internet and on the message boards. Coming off a spectacular 2006 season, it looks as the Wildcats are once again poised to render another miraculous season. Although some games are still in question (LSU, Florida, Louisville) most are being given high hopes that Kentucky can indeed be in the game when the final score is displayed at each game.

As far as football tradition is concerned in the SEC, there are some very familiar "colors" that go along with the words "victory". Perennial powerhouses like Tennessee have their orange and white(sorry, but yuck). Juggernauts like Florida have their royal blue and orange(sometimes mixed with white--double yuck). Goliath's like LSU have their purple and gold(triple yuck). Then there is one of the most storied programs in the nation, Alabama(although they have had a few down years lately), who have their "crimson" and white(sorry, don't like it either). These colors are almost synonymous with the word "victory", because normally when you see any of these colors, they are usually victorious(unless playing each other, then somebody has to lose). And we're not talking randomly either--these teams produce ALMOST every year. So what about a new color entry? How about a little BLUE and WHITE? Well, it looks as though things are certainly on track for a new color to become associated with the word "victory" for many years to come. So look out SEC rivals, cause the
BLUE and WHITE is coming--can you hear it--look over your shoulder--Football is relevant in KENTUCKY once again!

So enjoy this video..

UK Football: Next Years Class Part 2

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

In order to make an educated guess about the class, one must form an opinion about how many scholarships are actually available this year. Only our staff knows that number for sure.

We know this much....

*UK's 2007 roster is full, with 85 scholarship players.

*Eleven scholarship seniors will expend their eligibility this fall (K. Burton, J. Craigman, T. Day, S. Johnson, J. Leger, R. Little, E. Scott, J. Tamme, R. Williams, A. Woodson, W. Woodyard).

*Sefo Blaylock, Zach Hennis, John Logan, Ben McGrath, Darrell Stevens, Michael Strickland, and Jarrell Williams have left the team since the end of last season.

*February signees Mychal Bailey, Duran Jefferson, and DJ Stafford were unable to enroll.

I have been lead to believe that Coach Brooks will oversign again next February and take 15-20 prospects, depending on attrition from UK's current roster and the academic status of the prospects who are lined up to sign in UK's February class.

Currently, the class looks like this...

VERBALS

Chandler Burden* 6'5" 290#, Oxford, OH (OL)
Randall Cobb* 5'10" 175#, Alcoa, TN (WR/DB/QB)
Gene McCaskill* 6'0" 170#, Chester, SC (WR)
Matt Smith* 6'4" 265#, Louisville, KY (OL)

SOFT VERBAL/POSSIBLE DECOMMITMENT
Trevino Woods* 6'4" 285#, Athens, GA (OL)

UK LEANS

Ryan Benzick 6'5" 310#, Fern Creek, KY (OL)
Corey Heard* 6'2" 190#, Atlanta, GA (WR)
JK Ratliff 6'4" 190#, Paintsville, KY (QB)
David Ulinski* 6'6" 290#, Louisville, KY (OL)
Ryan Wallace* 6'4" 225#, Bowling Green, KY (TE)

OTHER PROSPECTS KNOWN TO BE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING UK

Arterio Arnold* 6'2" 285#, Greenville, SC (DT)
Xavier Avery* 5'11" 190#, Ellenwood, GA (RB/CB)
Willie Bohannon* 6'2' 230#, Mobile, AL (LB/DE)
Aaron Boyd* 6'4" 200#, Lexington, KY (WR)
Sam Buckingham 5'11" 200#, Portland, OR (RB)
Eric Everhardt 6'1' 230#, Suwanee, GA (LB)
Demetrius Fields* 6'1" 190#, Dallas, TX (WR)
EJ Fields* 6'2' 180#, Frankfort, KY (WR/DB)
MarQueis Gray* 6'4" 225#, Indianapolis, IN (QB)
Glenn Harbin* 6'4" 240#, Mobile, AL (DE)
Reuben Johnson* 5'9" 180#, Atco, NJ (CB)
Deandre Jones* 6' 0" 230#, Memphis TN (LB)
Robert Lester* 6'1" 200#, Foley, AL (S/LB)
Michael McAdoo* 6'6" 225#, Antioch, TN (DE)
Matt Roark* 6'6" 190#, Acworth, GA (QB/WR)
Sam Robey* 6'4" 250#, Louisville, KY (TE/DL)
Jomarcus Savage* 6'2' 250#, Huntsville, AL (DL)
Brian Sommer* 6'0" 200#, Alcoa, TN (S)
Charles Whitlock* 5'11" 180# Chester, SC (CB)
DL Wilhite 6'3" 230#, Lexington, KY (DE)
Rodriguez Wilks* 6'1" 190#, Smyrna, TN (WR)
Darius Willis* 6'1" 195#, Indianapolis, IN (RB)

*- Thought to have UK scholarship offer

It has become obvious that the OL, DL, and WRs are receiving top prioritization this year from Randy Sanders. By the time Brooks and Sanders are through filling those three positional needs, more than half of the available scholarships in the class will be taken. Brooks will also take a TE this year. The staff is still evaluating needs at LB and in the defensive backfield. It is possible that they may pass on QBs in this class, but that remains to be seen.(They would certainly take MarQueis Gray if he wants to be a Cat.) I don't think they will sign a RB this year, especially if walk-on track star Derrick Locke pans out in fall practices.

UK Football: SEC East Poll Result

Wildcats Thunder Blog thanks everyone for taking part in this poll and we look forward to you taking part in others Polls here in the future. In last weeks poll question only 83 voted and Kentucky received the most votes with 37. Maybe because we are UK fans..LOL. Below is the results and be sure take part in the Poll that is posted now.

Question:
Who will win the SEC East in football this coming season?

Georgia 10 (12%)
Florida 25 (30%)
Kentucky 37 (44%)
South Carolina 0 (0%)
Tennessee 8 (9%)
Vanderbilt 3 (3%)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

UK Football: Preseason camp...what have we learned so far?

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

This month's preseason camp has been closed to the public(a policy I like, BTW.....why give your future opponents free scouting opportunities?).

Still, we can already draw some conclusions. Some of these come from Coach Brooks himself, through his interviews and press releases. Other tidbits come from sources around the program.

ATMOSPHERE OF THE CAMP

The promotion of Steve Brown to DC and the integrations of Coaches Lockwood and Brinson into the staff have gone well.

This is the most confident, experienced football team Coach Brooks has had in five seasons at UK. Moreover, the move of UL to the season's third game has tended to foster a slightly more relaxed camp atmosphere. While all of that is good for the most part, Brooks' staff is carefully avoiding overconfidence by finding new ways to challenge the veterans. Although the roles of Woodson, Burton, Tamme, and Woodyard remain preeminent, other returning stars are finding the competition a lot more stern than they might have expected.

OFFENSE

QB- Randy Sanders is challenging Andre Woodson to recognize defenses more quickly, make faster decisions, and avoid holding onto the football in the pocket. Sanders wants Woodson to avoid sacks and mental mistakes by getting rid of the football faster, and learning when to throw it away. Sanders has also improved Woodson's footwork. Michael Hartline has won the #2 QB job, although true freshman Matt Lentz has had a terrific camp. Will Fidler has fallen down the depth chart, primarily because of mechanical throwing problems and decision-making errors. Curtis Pulley will redshirt.

RB- Rafael Little has gotten a little bit dinged up, and strained a hamstring. The staff is holding Little out of some of the scrimmages, trying to keep him healthy and fresh. While Little has been resting, more reps have been given to the younger backs. Tony Dixon has also missed some practice time to deal with family issues back home in Alabama. Dixon is the steady veteran with the good hands, but the younger players may have more athletic talent. Alfonzo Smith did not particularly play well the first two weeks of camp, but he is starting to heat up now. Smith has really been challenged in camp by true freshmen Brandon Jackson and Derrick Locke, as well a soph walk-on Antoine Brown. Jackson and Locke have looked fantastic, while Brown just keeps getting better and better. Even with the numbers, it is now very possible that either Jackson or Locke may play this fall. Moncell Allen has missed practice time with a fractured thumb, but he may return this week with a cast. Overall, the speed in the RB rotation is amazing, and most of these kids also catch the football well. This is UK's deepest and best RB rotation in a very long time.

FB- Maurice Grinter has made a move on John Connor in camp. Connor is still the better blocker by a wide margin, but Grinter's ability to gain yardage as a rusher and receiver has improved dramatically. Therefore, Connor and Grinter are likely to play situationally. That said, Grinter's role will undoubtedly increase this year. Ben Bates has fallen behind.

WR- Steve Johnson, Richie Lyons, and Demoreo Ford are fighting for the opportunity to start opposite Keenan Burton. Ford is a devastating blocker; Lyons is the best pure receiver; and Johnson probably has the best overall pacakge of size and skills. All three are betetr players than last year. True freshmen Kyrus Lanxter and Anthony Mosley have been competing for the #5 WR role. Both are very green. True freshmen Taiedo Smith and Greg Wilson have also taken some snaps at WR in camp. Lanxter is the most physically-ready of the true freshmen, but he has not made much progres in camp to date with the fundamentals of the WR position. Terrence Jones will miss the 2007 season while he rehabs a torn ACL. So the #5 WR role remains one of the team's unresolved questions.

TE- Ross Bogue and TC Drake continue to compete for PT behind all-SEC starter Jacob Tamme. Tamme has had a great camp. Bogue blocks pretty well, but has not made a lot of progress as a receiver. Drake did not make as much progress in the gym during the offseason as they hoped, and still needs to get physically stronger. But Drake has had some pass receptions in camp. So Bogue and Drake will be used situationally. Redshirt freshman Chris Goode is way behind.

OL- Brooks, Joker, and Heggins are determined to foster an improvement this fall by putting their five best players on the field. So this has been a month-long tryout. Players have been shifted around from position to position in a merry-go-round of practice experiments. As announced in Brooks' recent press conference, the tentative starting OL is:

LT: Garry Williams
LG: Zipp Duncan
C: Eric Scott
RG: Jason Leger
RT: Justin Jefferies

However, there are still a number of issues to be resolved. For one thing, 2006 starter Christian Johnson is not in the 2007 starting lineup. As many as four different factors may be hurting Johnson's case now. For one thing, he missed spring drills because of academic and other compliance issues. That put him behind several other players. Secondly, Brooks' staff is sending a message to many returning players (obviously, including Christian) that they are expected to step up in 2007....not just tread water. Christian has not stepped up, so he is not in the starting lineup. Thirdly, more is being asked of UK's OL this year. In order to exploit the athletic talents of the skill-position players fully, the OL is being asked to do more open-field and downfield blocking. Thus, Coach Heggins is trying to get more footspeed and agility into his lineup. Christian is brutally-strong, but mobility and agility are not his strengths. Finally, converted TE Zipp Duncan had a great month of drills in April, and has simply outperformed Christian in camp so far this month. In the long run, Christian is probably too good to keep out of the starting lineup. But at the moment, Christian faces a big challenge to catch-up after missing spring drills, and he hasn't responded so far.

Another issue is the competitive charge being waged by several younger linemen, including Jefferies, Duncan, Marcus Davis, Jorge Gonzalez, Stuart Hines, and Brad Durham. Of those six, only Duncan and Davis participated in spring drills, and both have continued their surprisingly strong work in August. The other four have also shown their talent and competitive hearts this month.

JUCO transfers Jess Beets and Josh Winchell are also in camp, and both are still in the hunt for roles on the two-deep chart.

If Davis or Gonzalez could nudge Eric Scott out of the starting center role, Scott could be moved to OG. The staff has also discussed the possibility of moving Garry Williams from LT to RT, but nobody has shown enough moxy to take Garry's LT starting job so far. All of these issues remain potentially active. It is entirely possible that UK's 2007 OL will not be settled before September 15. Meanwhile, Heggins is once again showing his true worth to the program.

DEFENSE

DL- The news is mostly good. Corey Peters and Ricky Lumpkin continue their competition to determine who will start at DT, opposite Myron Pryor. At this point, Peters has the job. But Pryor has missed some practice time with a strained hamstring, so both kids are getting a lot of reps. Former DE JD Craigman has been moved to DT full-time, and is playing well there. Ventrell Jenkins, who missed spring drills with a shoulder injury, will return to contact this week. True freshman DT Shane McCord has also played pretty well in practice, but is behind the veterans. At DE, Jeremy Jarmon has been excellent. On the other side, Dominick Lewis and Jamil Paris are competing for a starting DE job, but neither has played as well as expected. Although a senior, Lewis has been moved around throughout his UK career, and is still struggling with some of the nuances of the DE position. Meanwhile, the true soph Paris missed spring drills with academic issues, and fell behind in preparation and conditioning. Paris is still too skinny to fill running gaps inside the box effectively. So Lewis and Paris will probably be used situationally. Senior Travis Day is practicing at DT and DE, and has had his best preseason camp as a Wildcat. Day's spring work was mostly at DT, but he is being asked to take more reps at DE now that Nii Adjei Oninku and Josh Minton are out for the season with knee injuries.

LB- At MLB, Micah Johnson has had a great camp. But starter Braxton Kelley is back now, after rehabbing a high ankle sprain. Johnson may see more situational PT this year, but the starting MLB job is still Kelley's to lose. Mikhail Mabry has also played well in April and August.

An intense competition is underway for the starting SLB role between junior incumbent starter Johnny Williams and true soph Sam Maxwell. Maxwell won the job in April, but Williams has taken it back in camp this month. Maxwell is the more athletic, physical player, but he has been out of position at times in camp. So far, Williams' experience is winning out. However, people around the program seem to believe it may only be a matter of time before Maxwell wins the starting job.

Wesley Woodyard returns at WLB. Woodyard is one of the SEC's best returning defensive players. His leadership role on this defensive unit is unquestioned. Michael Schwindel has won the back-up WLB job.

CB- Trevard Lindley is one of the SEC's best returning CBs. A titanic battle is being fought for the other starting CB job among EJ Adams, Paul Warford, David Jones, AJ Grigsby, and Shomari Moore. I believe this competition will ultimately boil down to Adams and Warford, both of whom are fast enough to cover SEC WRs and strong enough to play well in run support. Adams tentatively won the job in April, but Warford has pulled even with Adams in camp. Chances are, Adams and Warford will continue to do battle for premium PT throughout the fall, and Grigsby might also work his way into it. Jones' role should increase as he regains his comfort level as a CB, after moving back to the defensive unit from WR two weeks ago. One of the most pleasant surprises of camp has been junior walk-on CB Robbie McAtee, who is turning a lot of heads.

S- Starters Roger Williams and Marcus McClinton return, but true soph Ashton Cobb and prep school transfer Chris Drayton are making a big push in camp. McClinton has had a solid camp, and appears safe at this time. At the moment, Cobb appears to have pulled ahead of Williams for the other starting job. Williams is a solid pass defender, but has had some trouble in run support. Cobb (formerly a star RB in HS) is a headhunter, with great speed and athleticism. Soph Calvin Harrison has also had a solid camp, but has not shown Cobb's and McClinton's explosive physicality.

SPECIAL TEAMS

UK may have the SEC's best punt and kick returners. Very few teams in the nation will have five kick returners as dangerous as Rafael Little, Keenan Burton, Rich Lyons, Alfonzo Smith, and David Jones.

Tim Masthay has held off a challenge this month from freshman Ryan Tydlacka, and will again be UK's punter this fall. The improved Masthay has been one of the camp's biggest positive surprises. Masthay will also kick-off.

Returning placekicker Lones Seiber has also had a strong camp. People around the program believe Seiber never fully recovered last year from arthroscopic hip surgery in May. He is now healthy, and his kicks have been very solid this month. Last week, Seiber hit a 51 yard FG in a full-contact scrimmage.


TRUE FRESHMEN

Although most decisions have already been made, none of these observations should be interpreted as final....

Moncell Allen....Currently rehabbing a fractured thumb that required a surgical reduction less than two weeks ago. For the next 4-6 weeks, Allen will need to wear a cast on his hand in practice. The staff has tentatively decided he will play this fall, unless he cannot practice properly with the cast. If he cannot hold onto the football, a redshirt may be necessary. But I think he probably plays. When healthy, he is definitely a potent weapon as a RB in short yardage scenarios, but watch him blow people up on kick coverage teams.

Randall Burden....Has had a solid camp, but he redshirts this year for sure. Needs to get bigger and stronger.

Chris Cessna....In April, he underwent his second major knee reconstruction surgery in the last two years. His football career may be over, but we won't know until next spring. If he continues his career, it will be an uphill slog. But he has a nice frame, and he used to move well before his injuries. It is possible that he may move to TE.

Chris Drayton....the prep school transfer from Hargrave MI has had a solid camp. Right now, he is competing with true soph Calvin Harrison for the fourth safety role on the two-deep chart. I think he plays this fall, and will see a lot of action on UK's kick coverage teams.

Jacob Dufrene....He worked hard in the offseason, and has gained 10 pounds of muscle since Signing Day. He will redshirt in 2007, and be developed as SLB. Good looking prospect, and a great student.

Brad Durham....He is alreday the strongest of UK's true freshman offensive linemen, and he will get a lot stronger. He has had a solid month in camp at RT, but he will redshirt in 2007. Watch for him to make a push up the two-deep chart next April. The key for him is learning to move his feet.

Antwane Glenn....Long, athletic body, with plenty of room to grow bigger. Could begin his UK career as a DE, but should eventually grow in to a DT. He mostly played LB in HS, so he is way behind right now. Will redshirt in 2007 unless they simply run out of players. Academics will never be a problem. He is an honor roll student, and a great kid.

Phillip Hibbard....Huge frame. Naturally strong, like Durham. Very competitive kid. He has had a pretty good month of practice in camp, but definitely needs a redshirt. Probably a LT.

Stuart Hines....He's everything they thought. Definitely plays this fall, because he's the best of the true freshmen offensive linemen. Terrific feet and athleticism. He has been taking snaps at RG and RT, and has looked good. He is second string right now, but still has a shot at the starting RT job. When he gets thicker and stronger in future seasons, he's going to be a real beast. He is a very strong student in the classroom, too.

Brandon Jackson....Everything says he should be redshirted. UK's RB rotation is probably too deep with veterans for Jackson to see much action this fall. Moreover, Rafael Little is one of the SEC's finest RBs. Despite all of that, Jackson is pushing for PT in 2007. He has clearly been one of the best players in UK's camp. He is very quick and strong, and he runs effortlessly. I don't think a final decision has been made on Jackson. He should redshirt, but he still might play this fall on the basis of pure excellence and athleticism.

Jake Lanefski....He was a DE in HS, and he is working at a new position now. He is behind the other freshman offensive linemen, but he has very good feet and a nice frame. They will initially develop him at LG, but he might eventually play LT. He is a certain 2007 redshirt. Very solid student in the classroom.

Kyrus Lanxter....They want him to follow in Keenan Burton's footsteps, and he certainly looks the part. They would like him to earn a role in UK's 2007 WR rotation, so he can get game experience before Burton graduates. He was a two-time all state player at Alcoa (TN) HS. He has a big, long frame and loads of athleticism. However, his initial camp performance suggests he is somewhat more raw than anticipated. With David Jones having moved to CB, Michael Strickland having left the team, and Terrence Jones rehabbing from knee surgery, the #5 job in UK's WR rotation is wide open in camp. However, Lanxter has been unable to earn it in practice so far this month, and other prospects are now getting an opportunity there. So this is one of the remaining decisions. Will Lanxter redshirt or play this fall? Too close to call right now but, remember, the staff really want him to earn that #5 WR role.

Derrick Locke....He was one of the best HS football players in Oklahoma. This walk-on track star has been one of the sensations of UK's camp. With Rafael Little being used conservatively in practice, and Tony Dixon tending to personal issues, Locke has had plenty of work. Locke has blazing speed and great vision. On some days, he has been sensational. Still needs a lot of work on basic backfield skills, suck as blocking and receiving.

Matt Lentz....He's one of the hidden gems of UK's class. Any other year, he would have signed with Clemson or USC. But Clemson took an early verbal from five-star prospect Willie Korn, and Spurrier was enamored early with four-star Tampa prospect Stevie Garcia. Four years from now, Lentz could be the best of the three. He is very intelligent and athletic, and he has a terrific arm. In UK's camp this month, he has been better than Will Fidler, and nearly as good as Mike Hartline, despite having never played in this system until the last three weeks. He is now UK's third string QB, but he will need to beat out Hartline for the #2 job in order to play this fall. Barring an injury to Woodson or Hartline, he will redshirt. Next April, look out.

Shane McCord....Strong, athletic DT prospect has looked pretty good in camp. He is still somewhat undersized to play inside the box in the SEC, but he is so strong and quick that he could probably play situationally if needed. The question is, will veteran DT Ventrell Jenkins be able to overcome his shoulder injury in August and play this fall? Jenkins returns to practice next week. If Jenkins is ready to play, then McCord probably redshirts. OTOH, if Jenkins can't go....or if another returning DT gets hurt....then McCord may have to play this fall, whether he is ready or not.

Greg Meisner....Underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week, and will redshirt in 2007. They plan to blow him up into a DT. That may take several years. The shoulder problem won't help when the time comes to get into the gym. He has a long way to go, but he is a sharp, competitive kid with a great pedigree.

Anthony Mosley....The swift freshman is currently neck-and neck with Lanxter for the #5 role in UK's WR rotation, and could win it.

Billy Joe Murphy....He has a huge frame and pretty good feet. He is a good athlete, having been a pretty good basketball player in HS. He is a smart kid and a hard worker, too. He has played fairly well in camp at OT, and has impressed Coach Heggins. But he definitely needs a redshirt this fall. Excellent student.

Charles Mustafaa....He is a smart kid with a great pedigree. His father and several of their relatives played in the NFL. The idea here is to blow him up into a DT. This project will take a couple of years. He isn't ready for the SEC yet. Definite redshirt.

Taiedo Smith....He was a track star in HS. He is a jet. Could be the fastest player in the class. He is being worked at CB and WR in camp. He has an outside chance to play this fall as a WR, but he really needs a redshirt year to get stronger.

Ronnie Sneed....Former all state LB in Florida; could represent UK's future at MLB. He has the athletic talent to play as a true freshman, but should not be needed this fall in UK's deep MLB rotation. Barring key injuries in the LB rotations, he is almost certain to redshirt.

Antonio Thomas....Raw prospect with long frame and nice athletic tools. He played safety in a good HS football program, but will be blown up into a LB at UK. This will take some time. Definite redshirt.

Ryan Tydlacka....High-upside punter/placekicker prospect. His signing last February must have scared the hell out of Tim Masthay and Lones Seiber, because both returning kickers have had a great month in camp. Tydlacka has also performed well, but he has not been able to win either job. He has focused primarily on punting, but so far the more experienced Masthay has been slightly better than the freshman. A redshirt could be in the offing for him.

Greg Wilson....Has worked this month at safety and WR. He appears physically ready for collegiate competition, but it is not yet clear whether he can actually win a role on UK's depth chart this year. Unless Wilson can beat out Lanxter and Mosley for the #5 WR job, I think Wilson and Drayton are essentially competing for one 2007 role as a special teams player and back-up safety. Currently, Wilson does not lead for either of those jobs. He could still break-through and earn a job, but he looks like a probable redshirt this fall.

UK Football: Ventrel Jenkins Ready for Contact

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

UK's medical staff has examined him and pronounced Ventrel Jenkins shoulder is ready for contact. This is a little faster than most people recover from a shoulder reconstruction, but not out of the ball park. Some people are faster healers than others. UK's team physicians would not let him back into contact drills unless he is ready. That is not what worries me about Jenkins.

As I see it, the problem is his overall strength and conditioning. BTW, for those who have not seen a friend or relative undergo this kind of surgery, the first several weeks are extremely painful. This might be the most painful of all the commonly performed surgical procedures. Two months out from this surgery (which would have been June for Ventrell), a patient still cannot do anything with the arm that requires heavy weight-bearing.

Ventrell underwent shoulder surgery in April, so he probably didn't resume running until sometime in June. Aside from the routine rehab stuff, it is very difficult for me to imagine that Ventrell has been involved in upper body strength work (i.e., of a kind that football players normally do all summer) for more than a couple of weeks. While it is fortuitous that Ventrell is back now, I have a hard time believing he is truly ready to play SEC football from the conditioning point of view. I'm guessing he may still be 6 weeks away.

So from Brooks' and Petri's perspective....considering that Nii Adjei Oninku and Josh Minton are out for the season....it would be great if Jenkins can work his way back onto UK's two-deep chart at DT, freeing Travis Day for a move back to DE. If Jenkins can do that, then they can redshirt Shane McCord. That's what this is all about.

While Jenkins is rounding back into shape, they will need excellent play and good health from Pryor, Peters, Lumpkin, and Craigman. Since Pryor already has a strained hamstring, they are already close to the edge, so to speak. This will be interesting to watch....and let me point out it's a good thing we are opening with EKU and Kent State this year, not you-know-who.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

UK Football: How many "Stars"....and does it matter?

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

This has come up before on many websites, but it seems interesting enough for another discussion.

In the following summary, I will discuss the "STAR" ratings received by a number of college football players when they were being recruited. For the purpose of this discussion, it doesn't matter whether another internet service gave the prospect one more, or one less, star. IOW, it doesn't matter that one internet guru gave Keenan Burton one star, while another guru gave him two stars later in the season.

The overall point of the discussion is whether fans like us should be concerned about the "stars" awarded by internet-based gurus to UK recruits.

I raise this point because a number of great players at UK have entered school as relatively-unknown prospects, while a number of more highly-ranked prospects have fizzled. This does not mean that a particular kid with a 4-star rating is not worth recruiting....or that a kid with 2 stars is not.

My underlying point here is that UK's staff seems to know how to evaluate talent, and seems to be well-connected with HS coaches throughout the South and the Midwest.

A second point is that internet-based "gurus" tend to represent a reverberating process of redundancy. By that, I mean these internet-based folks are looking for "hits" more than they are looking for quality control. None of them can afford to travel to every offseason combine and every important HS football game....whereas college coaching staffs routinely travel to see HS kids play football. Collegiate coaches also meet the kids personally, and develop a more sophisticated concept of character, work habits, and academic eligibility. Those issues are obviously critical. I doubt that 25% of the prospects rated on the internet have actually been seen by the "gurus" who are rating them. In fact, many of their "star" ratings may simply reflect what they have read about the kids on the internet! IMO, that is the "dirty little secret" behind internet ratings. For that reason, their evaluations of HS prospects are not as fundamentally sound as evaluations done by UK's coaches (who have actually seen these kids play football).

I think the following "star" ratings clearly illustrate these points.(2004 is particularly illustrative.) What do you think?

* - All-SEC recognition while playing at UK

RIVALS.com

2002

Bo Smith - 2 stars
*Glenn Holt - 2 stars
Lamar Mills - 2 stars
*Mike Aitcheson - 2 stars
Chris Bernard - 3 stars
Yancey Reynolds III - 4 stars

2003

Kurt Jackson - 2 stars
Durrell White - 2 stars
*Roger Williams - 2 stars
Travis Day - 2 stars
Eric Scott - 2 stars
Joey Razzano - 3 stars
Emmanual Harrell- 3 stars
John Logan - 3 stars
Dallas Greer - 3 stars
Delaine Means - 3 stars
Ricky Abren - 3 stars
*Jacob Tamme - 3 stars
Dominick Lewis - 3 stars
*Keenan Burton - 3 stars
*Andre Woodson - 4 stars

2004

Mikhail Mabry - no stars
Myron Pryor - 2 stars
*Trevard Lindley - 2 stars
Johnny Williams - 2 stars
Ted Bullock - 2 stars
Shomari Moore - 2 stars
Aubrey White - 2 stars
*Aaron Miller - 2 stars
Kane Hannaford - 2 stars
Garry Williams - 2 stars
Richard Lyons - 2 stars
Jason Leger - 2 stars
Joe Casey - 3 stars
Lonnell Dewalt - 3 stars
Joe Joe Brown - 3 stars
Jamir Davis - 3 stars
Cedric Koger - 3 stars
*Rafael Little - 3 stars
Marcus McClinton - 3 stars
*Wesley Woodyard - 3 stars
Scott Mitchell - 3 stars
Ernie Pelayo - 3 stars
Micah Jones - 4 stars

2005

Cory Byrd - no stars (USC RB who rushed for 110 yards against UK in 2006)
Braxton Kelley - 2 stars
Jeremy Jarmon - 2 stars
Ventrell Jenkins - 2 stars
Jamaal Jackson - 2 stars
Christian Johnson - 2 stars
Jorge Gonzalez - 2 stars
Michael Cross - 2 stars
Kenny Ray Turner - 2 stars
Sefo Mailau Blaylock - 2 stars
Ben Bates - 2 stars
Sam Maxwell - 2 stars
Antoine Brown - 2 stars
Jesse Jones - 2 stars
Demoreo Ford - 2 stars
Zipp Duncan - 2 stars
Jordan Nevels - 2 stars
Alfonzo Smith - 2 stars
EJ Adams - 2 stars
Michael Schwindel - 2 stars
Maurice Grinter - 3 stars
Curtis Pulley - 3 stars
Kalavi Blanchard - 3 stars
Fatu Turituri - 3 stars
David Jones - 3 stars
Tray Blackmon - 5 stars (Lagrange HS star who signed with Auburn, then got thrown off the team.)

2006

Laray Foote - 2 stars
Ricky Lumpkin - 2 stars
Lones Seiber - 2 stars
JD Craigman - 2 stars
Justin Jefferies - 2 stars
Steve Johnson - 2 stars
Jimorris Johnson - 2 stars
Darrell Stevens - 2 stars
Terrence Jones - 2 stars
Michael Strickland - 2 stars
Marckus Boswell - 2 stars
Brandon Thurmond - 2 stars
Chris Cessna - 2 stars
Paul Warford - 2 stars
AJ Grigsby - 2 stars
Corey Goodson - 3 stars
LaShun Watson - 3 stars
Moncell Allen - 3 stars
Will Fidler - 3 stars
Michael Hartline - 3 stars
Jamil Paris - 3 stars
Josh Minton - 3 stars
Chris Drayton - 3 stars
Ashton Cobb - 3 stars
Demetrius Goode - 4 stars
Micah Johnson - 4 stars
Corey Peters - 4 stars

SCOUT.com

2002

Andre Jones - 1 star (after JUCO career, went on to start at CB for Nebraska)
*Michael Aitcheson - 1 star
*Glenn Holt - 1 star
Bo Smith - 1 star
Durrell White - 1 star
Lamar Mills - 3 stars
Chris Bernard - 4 stars
Yancey Reynolds III - 4 stars

2003

Leroy Wilson - 2 stars
Dallas Greer - 2 stars
*Keenan Burton - 2 stars
*Jacob Tamme - 2 stars
Kurt Jackson - 2 stars
Eric Scott - 2 stars
Dominick Lewis - 2 stars
*Roger Williams - 2 stars
Joe Schuler - 3 stars
Emmanual Harrell - 4 stars
John Logan - 4 stars
Andre Woodson - 4 stars

2004

Marcus McClinton - 1 star
Shomari Moore - 1 star
Mikhail Mabry - 1 star
*Wesley Woodyard - 2 stars
Myron Pryor - 2 stars
Garry Williams - 2 stars
Jason Leger - 2 stars
Joe Joe Brown - 2 stars
Johnny Williams - 2 stars
*Trevard Lindley - 2 stars
Jamir Davis - 2 stars
Ben McGrath - 2 stars
*Aaron Miller - 2 stars
Richard Lyons - 2 stars
Tony Dixon - 2 stars
Lonnell Dewalt - 3 stars
Nii Adjei Oninku - 3 stars
Ernie Paleyo - 3 stars
BJ Parsons - 3 stars
Scott Mitchell - 3 stars
*Rafael Little - 3 stars
Micah Jones - 4 stars

2005

Ventrell Jenkins - 2 stars
Jamaal Jackson - 2 stars
Jeremy Jarmon - 2 stars
Corey Goodson - 2 stars
Jordan Nevels - 2 stars
Ross Bogue - 2 stars
Zipp Duncan - 2 stars
Jorge Gonzalez - 2 stars
Sefo Mailau Blaylock - 2 stars
Kenny Ray Turner - 2 stars
James Alexander - 2 stars
Christian Johnson - 2 stars
David Jones - 2 stars
EJ Adams - 2 stars
Sam Maxwell - 2 stars
Ben Bates - 2 stars
Michael Schwindel - 2 stars
Demoreo Ford - 3 stars
Alfonzo Smith - 3 stars
Fatu Turituri - 3 stars
Curtis Pulley - 3 stars

2006

Laray Foote - 2 stars
Marckus Boswell - 2 stars
Ameer Salahudin - 2 stars
Lones Seiber - 2 stars
Michael Hartline - 2 stars
Will Fidler - 2 stars
Justin Jefferies - 2 stars
Ricky Lumpkin - 2 stars
Jamil Paris - 2 stars
Calvin Harrison - 2 stars
Chris Drayton - 2 stars
AJ Grigsby - 2 stars
Corey Peters - 3 stars
Brandon Thurmond - 3 stars
Michael Strickland - 3 stars
Chris Goode - 3 stars
TC Drake - 3 stars
JD Craigman - 3 stars
Paul Warford - 3 stars
Corey Goodson - 3 stars
Ashton Cobb - 3 stars
Moncell Allen - 3 stars
Josh Minton - 4 stars
Steve Johnson - 4 stars
Micah Johnson - 5 stars

Friday, August 24, 2007

UK Football: Next Years Class Part 1

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

I will by know means come close on this guess, but hey, its been a long week and its Friday.

Here are the kid UK currently has verbal commitments from:

  • Randall Cobb, ATH
  • Gene McCaskill, WR
  • Chandler Burden, OL

QB: Outside of MarQuis Gray I can't see UK taking a QB.
RB: There is nice depth on the roster and unless they can land a Dontavius Jackson or Jeff Demps I think they don't sign a RB.
WR: A true need position. Look 2-3 along with McCaskill from this group: Boyd-Fred Sykes, Rodriquez Wilks-Cory Heard
OL: IMO two from the group of: Ulinski-Ryan Benzick-Troy Niblack to go with Burden. I think Trevino Woods won't come to UK despite an early commitment.
DT: From some reason I think Newman backs out on ND and comes to UK. Look for Arterio Arnold to come to UK as well. Matt Smith from Louisville figures into the equation as well.
DE: It seems allot of prospects on UK boards are getting recruited by the big state schools in which they live. Chase Thomas and Willie Green from AL are getting good looks from AUB and ALA. Look for UK to capitalize and get a solid kid from AL in Willie Bohannon. Glenn Harbin is another good kid from AL who might leave based on the talent pool being so heavy and AL-AUB not being to take everybody.
LB: Last year UK made a late push for Johnathan Frink from Memphis who choose Stanford. I think UK beats Stanford this time for DeAndre Jones. Thank Coach Lockwood and his ties to Memphis.
DB: Robert Lester is a UK lean. Hopefully Charles Whitlock will follow teammate Gene McCaskill to Lexington as well. Lexington standout Winston Guy is an Arkansas commitment but a strong season by the Cats could sway him to stay in Lexington.

There are multiple kids that UK is evaluating as the HS season gets underway. Just like Charles Mustaffa last year, UK will sign some kids who are not even on the radar as of yet.

WT "Top 10" Football Poll

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

I fall into the camp polls which should not be released until after September, but oh well!!! The NCAA and media listen to me about as well as my wife.

1. USC
2. LSU
3. Texas
4. West Virginia
5. Michigan
6. Va Tech
7. Wisconsin
8. Florida
9. Oklahoma
10.Ohio St.

UL should probably be #10, but it rubs me wrong and this is my poll, so........
:)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coach Billy Gillispie: A New Hope

Sktech
Wildcats Thunder Senior Board Moderator Sports Editor/Writer

After 2 consecutive years of inconsistency (among other things) under head coach Tubby Smith, the fans of Kentucky were ready for a change. Fortunately for both parties, Coach Smith had decided to move on quietly to Minnesota, thus allowing for a changing of the guard. While the greatest majority of the Wildcat nation felt that Coach Billy Donovan of Florida was poised to take the helm of the Kentucky program (his former training grounds--via Coach Rick Pitino), alas it was not meant to be. Thankfully, Athletic Director Mitch Barnhardt had the foresight to bring a coach to the Bluegrass that had the same passion for basketball that Kentucky fans do, Coach Billy Clyde Gillispie.

Billy Clyde Gillispie was born November 7, 1959 in Abilene, Texas, the middle child and only boy among five children of Clyde & Winifred "Wimpy" Gillispie. He grew up in Graford, Texas, a town of 494 people about 65 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas. At Graford High School he played point guard for the basketball team and was a standout athlete, highly regarded as one of the best in his graduating class of 20 students. After High School he attended Ranger College, playing basketball and baseball for them from 1978-1980 before transferring to Sam Houston State University to work as a student assistant for the University’s basketball team under coach Bob Derryberry, a former classmate of Gillispie's father. Derryberry later moved to Texas State Univeristy, where Gillispie accompanied him to, spending three years as a graduate assistant. Gillispie received his degree in education in 1983.

After several years of high school basketball coaching experience (1987-1993), Gillispie eventually made his way into Division 1 NCAA men’s basketball via an assistant coach & recruiting position at Baylor University in 1994. By 1996, Baylor’s recruiting classes were ranked as high as 6th in the nation under Gillispie’s recruiting prowess. Following 3 years at Baylor, he then moved on to the University of Tulsa, where he was an assistant coach under Bill Self. When Coach Self left Tulsa for Illinois, Gillispie followed, working under Self as an assistant for two years, where he helped Illinois enjoy many successes in the Big Ten conference and NCAA tournament.

In 2002, Gillispie was hired by the University of Texas-El Paso as the men’s head basketball coach. In his first year as head coach, UTEP managed a 6-24 record. The dismal record did not deter Gillispie, who quickly put his recruiting expertise to work, brandishing a top 25 recruiting class the very next year. Among those recruits was the all-time leading junior college scorer, Omar Thomas and the 2003 national Junior College player of the year, Filiberto Rivera. In the 2003-04 season, the UTEP miners, picked to finish 9th in their conference, instead captured their first conference title in 12 years. The team finished with a 24-8 record and was rewarded with an NCAA tournament bid, and Coach Gillispie was named Texas coach of the year by the TABC and was a finalist for National Coach of the year.

Following 2 years at UTEP, Gillispie was approached by Texas A&M University regarding it’s vacant head coaching position. Texas A&M’s Athletic Director Bill Byrne felt TAMU’s program needed revitalizing, since it had only one winning season in the previous eleven years, and desired a new coach who had the ability to "recruit the heck out of Texas". Gillispie agreed to take the job only after the assurance that the predominantly football-focused school was committed to winning in college basketball. His first season at A&M the team finished 21-10 and received a bid to the NIT where they won 2 games. The following season (2005-06), after finishing with a 21-8 record, the aggies were given a bid to the NCAA tournament, their first bid since 1987, where they upset Big East champion Syracuse before losing to LSU on a last-second three-pointer in the second round. Following this season, Gillispie was named Big 12 coach of the year by several media outlets and Texas College Coach of the year by the TABC. In the 2006-07 season, the aggies enjoyed being ranked in the nation’s top 25 poll, reaching as high as #6 and eventually receiving a second consecutive NCAA tournament bid where they reached the Sweet Sixteen before losing in a heart-breaking one-point game with Memphis.

On April 5, 2007, University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart was given permission to speak with Gillispie regarding the head coaching vacancy left by Tubby Smith. The following day, April 6, Gillispie was announced as the new Head Coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Since accepting the job, Coach Gillispie has wowed the Big Blue Nation with his recruiting abilities, down-to-earth attitude, and work ethic. He seems to identify with the fans of Kentucky by way of his small-town raising, passion for basketball, and unmatched work ethic. Gillispie often doesn’t even take the time to eat breakfast, opting for a quick Dr. Pepper and snack crackers instead. He has assembled a top-notch coaching staff with Glenn Cyprien and Jeremy Cox, and has landed highly touted recruits such as Patrick Patterson (WV) and Alex Legion (MI). The fans of the Bluegrass are happy again as once again Kentucky has become a real contender in the college basketball arena again. This is truly a match made in heaven and the beginning of a new hope for the Wildcat faithful!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

UK Football: Offensive Line

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Coach Brooks named his starting OL if the season were to start today. Garry Williams, LT and Eric Scott at Center are not surprises. I think one could argue Jason Leger, RG and Justin Jeffries, RT are not huge surprises since each saw time at those positions last year.

The huge surprise is at LG were last years starter Christian Johnson does not seem to be on the 2-deep chart. Brooks went as far to say he has “regressed.” Outside of Williams he has the most experience on the OL as well one of the team’s strongest players.

Johnson missed spring practice due to being in coach’s dog house and it was speculated at this time the coaching staff was trying to “send a message.” It does not appear that message was received. What makes matters worse for Mr. Johnson is that the majority of reps in practice will go to those on the 2-deep chart. IMO, he missed his wake up call and might not have a chance to get another opportunity even if he wants one.

There are varying opinions on the recruitment of JUCO OL at UK. I think it’s a safe argument to take that historically UK has not fared well with JUCO OL. Last year’s recruits in Josh Winchell and Jess Beets are having a hard time holding off true freshman Stuart Hines, G and Brad Durham, T. Coach Heggins states he wants to set a rotation of 7-8 guys once the season starts.

While discussing the misgivings of Christian Johnson let’s give A LOT of credit to his current replacement Zipp Duncan. The young man from E’town was recruited as a TE. He was then moved to DE his red-shirt season. It seems he found a home last spring on the OL. Also give the young man credit for getting after in the weight room by putting on 30 pounds.

I would not count out Jorge Gonzalez at center. The kid was pushing Matt McCutchan last fall when he suffered an ACL injury. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility he plays center with Scott getting time at RG. I mention this because of Leger’s shoulder injury from last season that seems to have flared up some this fall.

UK’s OL by SEC standards is very green outside of Garry Williams. Scott will be a first time starter at center, Duncan is getting his first D1 action at a position he was not recruited for while Leger and Jeffries played sparingly on the OL last season.

Coach Heggins is an excellent coach……I’m anxious to see what he does with this group.

Monday, August 20, 2007

UK Basketball: Coach Hall Poll Results on HOF

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Below is the results of a Poll that Wildcats Thunder did to see what some thought about Coach Hall and him being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Coach Hall had a good career as the UK Head Coach and desires to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Out of 308 votes 279 votes agreed that its past time for Coach Hall to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, while 29 votes disagree. Regardless what we may think Coach Hall desires a spot in the Hall of Fame and those in the UK Athletics Department should get the ball a rolling.

Do you think its past time for Former UK Head Coach Joe B. Hall to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Yes - 279(90%)
No - 29(9%)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Orlando "Tubby" Smith-UK Career

Catmancando
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

The name Tubby Smith can almost spark a great discussion with many different opinions and views.

Many of the fans loved him and just as many didn't care too much for him. I would like to reflect on Coach Smith's career here at Kentuc
ky.

Coach Smith began his career with the 1997-98 class. He followed Coach Pitino who had moved on to coach the Boston Celtics. Coach Smith came in with a boom and won the admiration of many fans by having a 35-4 record along with a NCAA Championship. The honeymoon was barely over and it was a joyous time to be a Kentucky fan.

UK 1998 NCAA Championship Team

The next year was not so bad with a trip to the Elite 8 and a 28-9 record. Things began to tumble beginning with the 1999-2000 season. The Cats had a record of 23-10 with an early exit in the NCAA tournament. With 2 more 10 loss seasons to follow and only reaching the Sweet 16, many fans began to grumble. Soon the TLT nickname began.

Coach Smith made history during the 02-03 year by leading the team to a perfect 16-0 record during the SEC regular season play. The team also won the SEC Tournament that year.

The past several seasons have been Coach Smith’s worst. I choose not to reflect on them because they have been discussed enough for now.

Overall, his record at UK was 263-83 for a .760 winning percentage. His overall record in the SEC Tournament was 24-7 including 5 tournament championships. He averaged over 26 wins per year during his stay at Kentucky.

Here are Coach Smith’s stats as a head coach.

Kentucky 263-83 (10 seasons)
2006-07 22-12 (NCAA 2nd Rd)
2005-06 22-13 (NCAA 2nd Rd)
2004-05 28-6 (NCAA Elite Eight)
2003-04 27-5 (NCAA 2nd Rd)
2002-03 32-4 (NCAA Elite Eight)
2001-02 22-10 (NCAA Sweet 16)
2000-01 24-10 (NCAA Sweet 16)
1999-2000 23-10 (NCAA 2nd Rd)
1998-99 28-9 (NCAA Elite Eight)
1997-98 35-4 (NCAA Champions)

Georgia 45-19 (Two seasons)
1996-97 24-9 (NCAA 1st Rd)
1995-96 21-10 (NCAA Sweet 16)

Tulsa 79-43 (Four seasons)
1994-95 24-8 (NCAA Sweet 16)
1993-94 23-8 (NCAA Sweet 16)
1992-93 15-14
1991-92 17-13

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rick Pitino: Rebuilding a Dynasty

WrathofRupp
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Following the stormy departure of Eddie Sutton from the helm of the University of Kentucky mens basketball program, newly hired athletic director, C.M. Newton was charged with replacing Sutton with another high caliber coach to lead the Wildcats out of the depths of probation and back into the limelight. The person he hired was New York Knicks head coach, Rick Pitino.

Most would not have blamed Coach Pitino had his team had a losing record but through hard work and the ability to instill confidence in his players, Ricks team posted a 14-14 record during the regular season and were not allowed post season play. The following year, while still barred from post season play, Pitino led his Wildcats to a 22-6 record which included the best record in the SEC and an AP ranking of 9th.

Pitino assembled a roster of mostly Kentucky born players which would later play in what is regarded as the greatest game ever in college basketball in 103-104 loss on a last second shot to Duke in the East Regional finals of the NCAA tournament. It was very apparent to the Big Blue Nation that UK was not only back but poised to be on top of the college basketball world in the very near future and for years to come.



















This loss only caused the Wildcats to be even more hungry for success and during his tenure at UK, Pitino led teams to the Final Four a total of 3 times in 8 seasons resulting in one championship and a heart breaking overtime loss in 1997, his fin
al season, to Arizona.



1996 NCAA CHAMPS
Coach Pitino holds a 219-50 record at UK. He holds a 6-2 mark over his current team, Louisville. While at UK, Rick Pitino was noted for having extremely high powered and successful assistants on his staff including his replacement in Orlando Tubby Smith. Rick holds the distinction also of never having lost to a former assistant while at UK. Dick Vitale coined the term "Spurt-ability" to describe the offense run by the Wildcats under Rick Pitino because of their ability to pressure opponents into making mistakes and then capitalizing with fast breaks for easy points. It was under Rick Pitino that UK retook the all time wins title away from UNC. Rick Pitino holds the distinction of being the only coach to ever lead 3 separate programs to the final four in Providence, UK and the UL Cardinals.

Rick was born September 18, 1952. He played his high school basketball for Oyster Bay on Long Island and college ball for UMass. He was part of the same program that featured NBA legend Julius Erving although the 2 never played together since freshmen were ineligible to play varsity at the time and Erving was a junior. He married his wife Joann in 1976 and they have 5 living children together. In 1987, a 6th child died at age 6 moths of congenital heart failure. The Pitinos established the Daniel Pitino foundation in his memory and it has raised millions of dollars for children in need.

Rick has authored his own autobiography titled "Born to Coach" and a motivational book titled "Success is a Choice". I personally own the latter and it is quite good.

Although Rick now coaches our instate rival in UL, I think once he retires, he will be remembered fondly by the Big Blue Nation for returning us to glory in our darkest hour and establishing "Camelot" in Lexington.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

UK Recruiting Rumors Swirling

Fewfirstchoice
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst

Yes, there are rumors flying left and right. I have heard all of them and then some. But I know the one most here are wanting to know about is the Scotty Hopson rumor. Yes, yes, yes I have this one as well and done some checking. But this isn't the only rumor I have heard tonight. There is one about Singleton, Riek, Clarke and the now visiting big man Sampson III. So lets not waste anytime and get straight to the ru
mors.

First off the Hopson rumor. IF you didn't hear there is a rumor going around that Hopson has had a advisor on campus at UK in the last week talking to the UK staff seeing how interested they are in Scotty. The advisor was told UK would except his commitment as soon as he was ready to give it. Then word has came out that Hopson will indeed open up his recruitment in the next week or 2 basically to visit UK. So there is the rumor going around right now.

Now for what I think is going to happen with Hopson from what my sources have told me. I was told that Hopson's people have talking to UK and gauged UK's interest. They were pleased with what the staff has told them. From
what I was told no longer than 30 minutes ago I believe Hopson will reopen his recruitment in the next couple weeks. Then I was told that if he does reopen his recruitment the sole purpose will be to visit UK. My source also said that if(remember its still a rumor, so if) you see Hopson reopen his recruitment he will commit to UK very quickly after he visits UK's campus. Now after talking to my source I have a funny feeling that Hopson will indeed be a member of next season recruiting class. Remember right now this is just rumor but there as been conversation between the 2 parties. If I didn't think something was going on I wouldn't post it. If I really didn't think something was going on I wouldn't say I thought Hopson could be part of UK's 08 class. Just remember this, where there's smoke there's always fire and there's been smoke on this subject for quite sometime.

Now for a little Sampson III discussion. He is in Lexington on a visit and from what I was told having a great time. He does have a offer, so if he wants to commit he can. Sampson is going to be a top 50 player when the final rankings come out at the end of the year. Some seem to think he is a pure project, I seem to disagree. Sampson is a 7 footer with good hands and a decent shot from 10-12 feet. He can rebound good rebounder not not great for a 7 footer. He is athletic and runs the floor pretty good for a 7 footer. His faults are fewer than his positives. He doesn't move side to side very good and his foot speed in the half court offense is great. Sampson also needs a little help on his offensive moves down low. But overall I'd take Sampson III tonight if he committed.

Now to the rumor I heard about Sampson tonight. I was told he wants to commit and very well could have already. But if he does it probably will not be let out to the public until Billy G gets to talk to Singleton and Riek and tell them about it his self. Meaning he wants to tell both and let them know that there is still a spot for either at UK even with Sampson's verbal. Now this rumor has been given to me by my number source and I trust him greatly. I believe this rumor is even more likely to be true than the one about Hopson. So, if it does turn out to be true look for a commitment from Ralph III to be made public probably next week around Thur-Sat. I know some will say why not let it out as it was given. If it gets out to the media and Riek and Singleton hear about it there first it could hurt UK with those players. But if Billy G can call and let the players know his self and talk to them about it and it would make the commitment seem less hurtful for UK. Billy G can tell them were they still fit in. Yes he wants 2 big men in the 08 class.

Clarke is a kid who's recruitment just keeps getting funnier and funnier. When Rotei visited UK I was told he was ready to commit and by his own words that was correct. Now it seems UK may have drop off a bit according to the big two recruiting sites(Rivals and Scout). I was a bit shocked by this and decided to call around the last couple of days, here is what I found out. Clarke has indeed dropped UK from the top spot on his list. UK is still in his top 3 but not #1. So who is number one. I was told that Oklahoma has jumped out front for some reason. I was told that Oklahoma, Kansas and UK are his top 3 right now. So right now if he choose a school it would be Oklahoma. But remember Clarke is coming to UK for Midnight Madness and I expect that to remind Clarke what UK stands for. I know the rumor says Oklahoma on top right now, but I just see Clarke ending up at UK in the end, end of October probably maybe sooner.

Singleton's recruitment is turning in UK's favor from what I hear. I was told that he should have already committed to UT and the fact that he hasn't only means good things for UK. I know he came out with his top 4 the other day and had UK #5. Thats only because he hasn't visited UK just yet.HE grew up a UK fan as a kid and loves UK's tradition. MY people seem to think that when(not if)he gets on campus he will fall in love with UK. I was told he said that the only 2 schools that could take him away from UT were UK and UNC because of tradition. So that bolds well for UK. UNC hasn't offered and probably wont because they have a room for him. So that leaves UT and UK. I seem to think he still ends up at UT but UK isn't dead by any means. My sources seem to think it will come down to UK and UT and most think UT will win out in the end. Well lets hope there wrong about who wins out but not wrong about who is his top 2 schools.

Riek rumor: I was told the other day that Riek will more than likely be a 2008 recruit. Tonight I hear different. I was told that it looks more and more likely that he will be in the 2009 class. I find this funny because his age is to be a 2008 recruit. He has the desire to be apart of the 2008 class. I know for a fact that he wants to be part of the 2008 class so it has to be something to do with his grades that keeps him in the 2009 class. My source says theres still a chance he ends up in the 2008 class, but right now it looks like he will be in the 2009 class.

Remember all the above is just rumors as of right now. But they are rumors from reliable sources. IF I didn't believe in my sources and their info I wouldn't post this info. Again, just remember as of now it is all just rumors, but could change very soon.