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Red Lightning’s Wednesday News and Views

Florida State won the BCS National Championship, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jameis Winston, sure, whatever. Heisman and national champion? Cool story bro. But Red Lightning? Red Lightning’s my guy. Red Lightning is the real story. He’s the real winner.

If you don’t already know Red Lightning, you probably saw him in the title game last night without realizing you saw him.

He was the guy running behind Jameis Winston:

He was the guy helping Jameis Winston up:

He was the guy who was really frustrated early in the game:

He’s Frankie Grizzle-Malgrat and he is Florida State football’s equipment manager during the week and ballboy on gamedays. He’s also the guy who owned Twitter and the internet during one of the best games in BCS history.

So move over, Katherine Webb. It’s the chubby redhead’s spotlight now.

Let’s do this News and Views thing real quick then go back to wishing we were Red Lightning.

 

The Cats return to Rupp Arena tomorrow night.

With only two games over the last 19 days to three games in the next seven, Kentucky basketball is back and ready to open conference play. Calipari warned us on Tuesday the Cats may be a little rusty after the long break, but he’s excited to see the steps they made during that time, beginning with Wednesday night’s game against Mississippi State.

Andrew and Aaron Harrison said the team really came together by spending every waking moment with each other over the break, and that helped them improve offensively and defensively. Aaron said the cohesion helped the most on the defensive end because that’s where they really need to talk to each other and play as a team.

Andrew sees a stronger bond with his teammates off the court. “We all liked each other before, but now I think we’re all closer. We all talk and laugh like we didn’t do before. I think that’s very helpful,” he said.

Calipari has seen it with all of his teams and this group is no different. They all know each other better coming out of Camp Cal and only time will tell if that makes a difference on the basketball court.

Kentucky is a 21.5 point favorite over Mississippi State.

These teams tend to play each other close; the underdog covered the spread in seven of the last nine meetings.

Take that however you would like to take that. Gamble responsibly.

Calipari is still preaching, “Think pass with the ball, think shoot without it.”

Soon we will add this to the Calipari drinking game/BINGO board. He reminded us of his new message during Tuesday’s pre-Mississippi State media opportunity, elaborating on the new mentality he is trying to instill in his players. He compared it to a wide receiver running routes without the ball, “running blind,” which is what he tells his players to do.

“Don’t jog like; well I don’t think I’m getting this one,” he tells them. “And the big guy, run blind, fly and maybe you get the ball, maybe you don’t. That’s what we’re trying, those are just ways of getting them to think different than they’ve thought.”

Aaron Harrison said it’s helping the players to be better prepared to score. He said he had never heard it before but it makes a lot of sense.

Brother Andrew said, “It’s weird, but we definitely understand where he’s coming from and what he means by it, just being ready and try to move to the open spot when you don’t have the ball.”

Booker, Lyles, Towns and Ulis named McDonald’s All-American nominees.

Kentucky basketball signees Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl Towns and Tyler Ulis have all been nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game in April. The four high school standouts, Kentucky’s entire 2014 recruiting class, are part of a list of almost 1,000 names, both boys and girls, nominated for the game. That list will be narrowed down to 24 players in each game and the rosters will be announced on ESPNU at 6:00 p.m. January 29.

Last year Kentucky had six players in the boys’ game, making up one-fourth of the entire contest. The Wildcats also had two representatives in the girls’ game, and another, Alyssa Rice, is nominated this year.

Drew Barker told KSR he’s not so sure about Matt Elam anymore.

Drew Barker was a guest on Kentucky Sports Radio radio Tuesday morning and he admitted to being just as surprised as we were when Elam postponed his announcement at the Army All-American Bowl. Barker said he found out the news like everyone else, via Twitter, and couldn’t talk to Matt until well after the game because they were on opposing teams.

Now, with Elam taking an official visit to Alabama, he isn’t as confident as he was last week that the final pick will be Kentucky:

“I was really confident before this week, but you know, he didn’t decide or whatever, so I guess he really is torn between the two schools and now I know he’s going to take an official to Alabama, so I’m not really sure, honestly,” Barker told KSR. “I think he could go either way. I’m honestly not really sure anymore. I could tell you before this week it was all Kentucky, but I’m not really sure anymore.”

Elam speculation aside, Barker is still very excited about UK’s 2014 class and he believes Stoops and Co. will have a couple wild cards on National Signing Day. He wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple late surprises down the stretch.

Listen to Drew’s interview below:

Bobby Petrino heading back to Louisville?

Please let this happen.

Petrino interviewed for the Louisville vacancy on Tuesday and several reports are saying the job is his. The Louisville Athletic Board will hold a meeting Thursday morning and the new coach will likely be named soon after. If it is Petrino, you will be able to hear the laughter coming from the KSR headquarters from anywhere in the state. We are really excited about the potential.

Also, further proof the job is Petrino’s: Rick Pitino said he highly doubts it will happen, meaning he fully expects it to happen.

The NCAA is trying to determine the best fan base with an online poll.

Of course, Kentucky is already No. 1 with very little promotion but it’s very early in the competition. Go ahead and pile on more votes in the “6th Fan” contest at NCAA.org. The winning school will receive $100,000 and all entries will be entered into a grand prize drawing for an all expense paid trip to the 2015 Final Four. An iPad air will be given away in each round, too. Happy voting!

Go Cats, everybody.


What A Difference A Year Makes

What price would you pay to win? That was the question I asked in 2012 as Kentucky struggled on the field and many fans began to clamor for UK to take a look at out of work Bobby Petrino. Is it worth it to sacrifice the spirit of amateurism and college athletics to adapt a win at all costs mentality? Last year UK had the chance to take that route and passed opting instead to make what looks like a solid hire in coach Stoops. This season the Cards did the opposite as they crawled back to their ex today for an interview and early reports indicate they may be about to hire Petrino once again. For Cardinals they will do anything possible to win at least that’s what hiring Petrino meant a year ago:

Eric Crawford:

Ah, yes. All he brings to the table. Petrino brings as much football coaching talent to the table as anyone hired this offseason. He also brings enough baggage to send you scrambling for a second table.

Stewart talked about wanting to make a hire that would move the program forward, that would take it places it has never been, that would put it on a national stage it has never known. He accomplished that Monday. Within two hours of Petrino’s press conference ending, WKU had been ripped by USA Today and Sports Illustrated online.

The litany of criticism is long.  It’s too soon. Does integrity stand for nothing? In college football, winning trumps everything else. And one final concern — it’s a big risk to take with your program.

[WKU writes itself into Petrino reality show]

Larry Vaught:

Will Kentucky make a move on Petrino? Probably not. I just don’t see Barnhart doing that.
Should Kentucky make a move on Petrino? Maybe. It depends on how much the UK administration wants to win more than anything else.

So what will happen? My guess is nothing with Petrino, as Barnhart looks for other coaches he thinks can win and have the “integrity” Barnhart values. But if the Kentucky administration doesn’t want to make a stronger overall commitment to football, will it really matter whether the coach is Petrino, a rising star like Sonny Dykes, a moderately successful coach like Duke’s David Cutcliffe or perhaps a rising college or NFL coordinator?

But remember, this is not a guaranteed home run for Kentucky. Money alone won’t buy a big-name coach who values winning unless other changes are made to the Kentucky football culture, and that could be more difficult to do than having UK even take a run at Petrino.

[Bobby Petrino: Good or Bad Hire for Kentucky?]

Mark Story:

In hiring Petrino, Western showed it is has embraced the same win-at-all costs mentality that, historically, has made UK one of the most penalized schools in NCAA history.

With Petrino, WKU joins Kentucky and Louisville in having as the most visible faces of their school nationally famous coaches known almost as much for the scandals of their past, either professional or personal, as their coaching excellence.

Welcome to the big time, WKU.

This is life with Bobby P.

[Petrino Can Make Life Tougher on Barnhart With Win In Debut]

 

Finally we have this gem from one of Louisville’s own. It will be interesting to see how his tune will change with a Petrino hire:

Bill Lamb and his point of view:

“Despite his undeniable success, Petrino’s annual mating dances with other college and pro teams were getting to be more than tiresome, creating an atmosphere of distrust and insecurity in the Cardinal football program. A school like Louisville deserves to have a man in charge with both eyes on the ultimate prize. Not just one, while the other is constantly wandering in search of a sweeter deal.”

Apparently, nothing much has changed with Petrino, considering his NFL fiasco and his recent shenanigans at the University of Arkansas. I have no sympathy for Arkansas since they knew what they were getting when they hired him. But now, the atmosphere of “distrust and insecurity” surrounding Petrino’s public life has invaded his personal life as well, and it’s hard to imagine anyone giving him another chance in either arena anytime soon.

[Bobby Petrino’s Familiar Story]

 

What will you say if Petrino is named head coach of the Cards later this week?

 


KSR Conversations: Mississippi State Edition

Get to know the 2013-14 Mississippi State Bulldogs before tomorrow night’s game through this imaginary conversation… 

Who coaches Mississippi State? I honestly don’t know.

Mississippi State’s head basketball coach is Rick Ray. Ray was hired in April of 2012 to replace Rick Stansbury. Stansbury, a Kentucky boy, stepped away after 14 years on the Bulldogs sideline.

They really like coaches named Rick, don’t they?

Now that you mention it, yeah, I guess so. Before Stansbury it was a guy named Richard Williams. He was very successful, Mississippi State’s second all-time leader in wins, but he’s more of a Dick.

Oh, I see. So who are the players to watch this year? Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson are always tough.

Believe it or not, Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson are long gone, finally. This year’s leading scorer is Craig Sword, a sophomore guard they call “Chicken.” He earned All-SEC Freshman honors last season and he’s currently averaging over 14 points per game in 2013-14.

Keep an eye on 6-foot-8 senior Colin Burchert, too. He’s coming off a career-high 22 points in his last game and he has five of Mississippi State’s seven double-doubles this season. He’ll be matched up with Julius Randle.

You said they call him Chicken? Like, “Bock-bock-bock-bucock” Chicken?!

Yes, Chicken. Like, the delicious fried poultry at Indi’s in Lexington or what Indiana fans call John Calipari when he refuses to play in Assembly Hall. It has been Sword’s nickname since he was a baby and his coach said he won’t answer if you call him Craig.

So don’t call him Craig if you see him; call him Chicken.

Noted. Sounds like that Chicken guy might get a lot of buckets. Get it?

I get it. And it’s not funny.

Oh, come on. I hear he’s great on the wing.

Stop. We’re not doing this.

But he gets gobbled up when he goes inside.

That’s enough. Do you want to learn more about Mississippi State or make chicken jokes all night? And so you know, chickens don’t even gobble. That’s a turkey, you imbecile.

Now you’ve got me worked up and my anger is only egging you on. I give up.

Ha. You said egg.

Goodbye.

OK I’m done. Tell me about last season. Kentucky beat Mississippi State, right?

Yes, Kentucky defeated a very bad Mississippi State team by 30 points. State brought only eight players to the game: six scholarship guys and two walk-ons. Only two Bulldogs reached double-figures while Kentucky’s entire starting lineup scored 11 or more points.

Ryan Harrow was UK’s leading scorer with 19 points, if that tells you anything.

Wow. Ryan Harrow. There’s a name.

He’s doing great at Georgia State this season. He’s averaging 19 points and almost five assists per game.

Good for him. What’s Mississippi State’s record this year?

The Bulldogs are 10-3, just like Kentucky, but with a much easier non-conference schedule. State lacks a marquee win and its three losses are to Utah State on the road and at home to TCU and UNLV — all three by double-digits. The Bulldogs also needed overtime to beat 3-4 Loyola (IL) of the MVC at home in early December. Loyola had a shot at the buzzer to win it.

Judging by the two schedules, it looks like Kentucky shouldn’t have any problems getting the win.

No, this is a game Kentucky should easily win. The Cats are very hungry after the 11-day break and Mississippi State, though improved from a year ago, just can’t match up with the talent of UK. Not to mention, Rupp Arena is anxious for another game. The crowd will be electric.

The key will be containing Chicken. I hope he gets in fowl trouble.

This conversation is over.


All four of UK’s 2014 signees nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game

2014 UK Recruits

Congrats to Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, and Karl Towns, who were all nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game today. The final roster of 24 boys and 24 girls will be announced during the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Show on ESPNU on January 29 at 6 p.m. ET.

UK’s 2014 signees have been killing it lately. Tyler Ulis is putting up huge numbers each night, Trey Lyles recently scored 45 points and 16 rebounds in one game, Karl Towns flirted with a quadruple double, and Devin Booker passed the 2,000-point mark in his high school career. With the way the 2014 class is progressing, there’s a good chance they’ll all make the final roster cut.

Let’s celebrate with Tyler Ulis’ latest mixtape:


Kentucky is a 21.5 point favorite over Mississippi State tomorrow

Let's stay with the Cutler theme today...

Let’s stay with the Cutler theme today…

Vegas has spoken: the Cats are a 21.5 point favorite in tomorrow night’s game against Mississippi State. The not-as-cute-as-the-Georgia-Bulldogs are 10-3 on the season, with losses to Utah State, TCU, and UNLV, so that seems pretty fair to me.


76ers waive Daniel Orton

76ers waive Daniel Orton

Image via Philly.com

Bad news for one former Cat this evening: Daniel Orton has been waived by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Orton joined the team during training camp and averaged 3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. He played in 22 games, starting four, and had a season high 10 points and 10 rebounds in the 76ers’ win over Indiana on November 23rd.


Listen to Drew Barker talk about Matt Elam on KSR

Listen to Drew Barker talk about Matt Elam on KSR

By now, you’ve heard all about Matt Elam postponing his college announcement last Saturday during the Army All-American Game. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why he pushed back his decision, and no one may be closer to and more befuddled by the situation than future UK QB Drew Barker. Barker called in to KSR this morning to chat about enrolling early at UK and give listeners his view on Elam’s recruitment, which you can hear above.

Drew has often spoken about his close friendship with Elam and said that before he made his announcement in May, he gave Elam a heads up that it was going to be Kentucky; when Elam didn’t return the favor this past weekend, he knew something was up. Drew said that he found out the news that Elam was pushing back his announcement like everyone else did–via Twitter–and was unable to talk to Matt about it until after the all-star game because they were on different teams.

When asked, Drew said that he thought Elam was going to pick Kentucky had he not postponed his announcement, and mentioned Elam’s comments about the set-up at the Army All-American Bowl being a turn-off:

“I’m really not sure why he didn’t do it. I know he said the set-up was kind of weird, I think he wanted them to tell NBC or the sports analyst where he was going to go a couple of days before and he didn’t want to, but I’m not really sure. I don’t know, really.”

So, where does Drew think the Cats stand with Elam now?

“I was really confident before this week, but you know, he didn’t decide or whatever, so I guess he really is torn between the two schools and now I know he’s going to take an official to Alabama, so I’m not really sure, honestly. I think he could go either way,” Drew said. “I’m honestly not really sure anymore. I could tell you before this week it was all Kentucky, but I’m not really sure anymore.”

Regardless, Barker is excited about the 2014 class, who he says will hang together, and the staff, who he believes can still pull off a major surprise come Signing Day:

“I think that with our coaching staff, they’re great recruiters and have great history and I definitely think that come Signing Day, we’ll have maybe one or two surprises, you know, maybe flip some commitments from different schools or what have you. Just the way the staff recruits, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to have you know, something big happen down the stretch here.”

Listen to Drew’s entire interview over at TalkRadio1080.com:

LISTEN TO KENTUCKY SPORTS RADIO


Photo @tonyvanetti

Bobby Petrino interviewed for the Louisville job today

Photo @tonyvanetti

Photo @tonyvanetti

I know it’s cold, but did hell freeze over today? According to Wave 3’s Kent Taylor, former UofL head coach Bobby Petrino interviewed for his old job today, seven years to the day after he left the Cards for the NFL. Taylor reports that Petrino is the eighth coach UofL AD Tom Jurich has interviewed for the vacancy.

Petrino did not leave Louisville on good terms all those years ago, and it is widely known that there aren’t many warm feelings for the current Western Kentucky head coach in the UofL athletic offices. However, Bobby claims to be a changed man and the Cards are desperate to hang on to their success, so…who knows.

UPDATE: InsidetheVille is reporting that Petrino is expected to be announced as UofL’s new coach within the next 24 hours.  Heads up, Louisville volleyball team.


How the tide has turned on the “Best Season Ever”

Much like we can now look back and say that the hype might have been a little too early and unwarranted for this young Kentucky basketball team, the same can be said of college basketball as a whole this season. Before the 2013-2014 season kicked off, the sports world and fans salivated at the number of potential “really good teams,” sprinkled with an enticing mix of returning veterans who said no to the draft, and a super-talented freshmen class. Between those three factors, many of us expected a blockbuster year for college basketball– headlined by a number of teams and players who would steal the spotlight. Although many of the individuals, and even some of the teams, have performed at a high level– the season hasn’t exactly played out as expected. Some of the early season favorites have stumbled a bit. Some of the youngsters have struggled at times to find their footing as well. Let’s take a look at what the pre-season polls thought would be reflective of the season to come in college basketball and compare those to the reality of the situation at this moment…

Pre-Season AP Top 25 and where they stand now:

1. Kentucky (14th)

2. Michigan State (5th)

3. Louisville (12th)

4. Duke  (16th)

5. Kansas  (18th)

6. Arizona  (1st)

7. Michigan (Not Ranked)

8. Syracuse  (2nd)

9. Oklahoma State  (11th)

10. Florida (10th)

11. Ohio State  (3rd)

12. North Carolina (Not Ranked)

13. Memphis  (24th)

14. VCU  (Not Ranked)

15. Gonzaga (22nd)

16. Wichita State  (6th)

17. Marquette  (Not Ranked)

18. Connecticut  (Not Ranked)

19. Oregon  (17th)

20. Wisconsin  (4th)

21. Notre Dame (Not Ranked)

22. UCLA (Not Ranked)

23. New Mexico  (Not Ranked)

24. Virginia (Not Ranked)

25. Baylor  (7th)

 

A few thoughts/observations from the comparison:

17 of the top 25 teams from the pre-season poll have trended downward

— 7 of the top 25 teams from the pre-season poll have trended upward

— Florida is the only team who has stayed the same

All of the top 5 pre-season teams have dropped in the polls, with only 1 team remaining in the top 10 (Michigan State)

— The pre-season rankings of the CURRENT top 5: (6th, 8th, 11th, 20th, 2nd)

9 of the current top 25 teams were NOT ranked in the pre-season polls (Villanova, Iowa State, San Diego State, Colorado, UMASS, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas State)

— 2 of the current top 10 teams were NOT ranked in the pre-season polls: Villanova (8th) and Iowa State (9th)

 

When looking at the number of changes, especially the downward trends– are some of those early pre-season favorites victims of too high of expectations? Is that the reason for the big falls? Or are they really worse at the moment than some of the teams who have leapfrogged them or the teams who have been trending upward? Some of these answers might become a little bit clearer once we get deeper into conference play…

 


Five soundbites and an Alan Cutler .gif from Cal’s press conference

Five soundbites and an Alan Cutler .gif from Cal’s press conference

John Calipari met with his favorite media members this afternoon to preview tomorrow night’s game against Mississippi State. Here are the five things you need to know:

1. Camp Cal helped the team come together off the court

Cal said that having his players out of class and fully dedicated to basketball for two weeks made them closer off the court, but he won’t know for sure if it will translate to on-the-court chemistry until tomorrow night.

“Every team I’ve coached has come together. Now, don’t know what that means on the basketball court, but I know they know each other better, they have a better feeling for each other. It starts there, in my mind.”

Cal added that he hopes that cohesion will result in a better effort defensively and improved pace throughout the game.

2. Rust could be an issue

Cal pointed out that the Cats have played two games in 19 days, and now they’re facing three games in seven days, two on the road in tough venues. “For us, again, let’s see what steps we’ve taken. Not playing, we may be rusty,” he warned.

3. Cal wants more points and rebounds from Alex

A common theme from Camp Cal has been the impressive play of Alex Poythress. Cal said Alex has been killing it in practice, but it’s time to bring that to games.

“I just want to see that there’s carry over, there’s certain guys that are playing so well right now, go do it in a game,” Cal said. “Alex, I want a couple more baskets and a couple more rebounds from him. And he is absolutely like ‘Whoa’. I’ve never seen him like this. Ever. I mean, now go do it in games.”

Everyone’s happier Alex is playing well, including Alex. He even smiled yesterday:

“Alex smiled yesterday, did something, dunked on somebody. Just grabbed the ball and just. He was smiling. And I stopped and said ‘Can you imagine? Alex is smiling.’ And I said, “did he smile at all last year?’ Coach O said ‘yeah, when he was leaving the gym.'”

4. The new motto is “Run blind”

Fail fast, brother’s keeper, yada yada. It seems like Cal has a new motto for his team each week. The new flavor? Run blind. And no, it doesn’t mean run with your eyes closed:

“It’s like a football player who’s a wide receiver that’s not receiving the ball but runs his pattern like he is receiving. I’m trying to get these guys to run the wing blind. Don’t jog like ‘I don’t think I’m getting this one.’ And the big guy, run blind! Fly. And maybe you get the ball and maybe you don’t.”

5. Even the 2014 signees are impressed with Dominique Hawkins

Has there been a more surprising player than Dominique Hawkins? The Madison Central star has become an integral part of the team because of his hard-nosed work ethic, and relentless effort. Cal said that Dominique has been so impressive that the 2014 signees (Karl Towns, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles) have texted him to tell him how much they love his play.

“I have some of the recruits that we’ve signed hit me on the text after a game and say ‘I love Dominique’s game.’ So you have everybody watching. It’s a good lesson that when you come with energy and when you come to compete, you stand out.”

Now, if only Alan Cutler would get out of the way:

getoutofthewayalan


Ryan Harrow Playing Well at Georgia State

Ryan Harrow Playing Well at Georgia State

harrow

Ryan Harrow was probably the most frustrating player of the Calipari era. After practicing with a national championship team for an entire season, Harrow was expected to continue the trend of exceptional point guards under John Calipari. Alas, the spotlight at Kentucky proved too bright for Harrow, and he transferred to Georgia State at the end of last season. If his performance to date is any indication, the decision was the right one.

Harrow is currently averaging 19.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.7 turnovers per game at Georgia State. At the midpoint of the season, he has already had several huge games: like at Vanderbilt (27 points 4 assists 4 rebounds), at Elon (34 point 4 assists 4 rebounds) and vs. Old Dominion (33 points 3 assists 4 rebounds). The Panthers are currently 3rd place in the Sun Belt conference, which is ranked the 17th strongest league in Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings.

While his level of competition has declined considerably, you can’t deny the improvement of Harrow’s play. His assist to turnover ratio has increased by 61% since transferring, and his points per minute are up 63%. Harrow is simply a better all-around player this season, and we should be happy for him.

The recruitment of the Harrison twins limited minutes in the back court this season, and Dominique Hawkins and Jarrod Polson have proved to be viable options as the back-up point guard. Frankly, Harrow would not have played much at Kentucky this year. At Georgia State, Ryan gets to showcase his skills with more playing time and less scrutiny. He also gets to be closer to his family, who caused him to miss some games at the beginning of last season. Despite his struggles at UK, one can only hope that Harrow will continue to succeed in his new home.


LIVE: Calipari’s pre-Mississippi State press conference


Cal talks about the media’s reaction to the win over Louisville and storming the court

 
vince-calipari

If you listened to John Calipari’s radio show last night, you could tell that Swaggy Cal was back. Aside from telling fans not to worry about free throws, Cal let a few more eye-opening comments fly about the media’s reaction to the win over Louisville and whether or not UK fans would ever storm the court. Let’s have a listen:

But Cal, Dana O’Neil and Pat Forde will never get the hour it took them to write a new story back.

Now, the not-so-subtle dig at Indiana:

Something tells me we won’t be playing in Bloomington for a very, very long time.

You can listen to Calipari’s entire radio show over at ukathletics.com.


CatsPause.com Weekly Recruiting Roundup

CatsPause.com Weekly Recruiting Roundup

tubman

With both staffs having significant recruiting ties to the state of Florida, archrivals Kentucky and Louisville had found themselves going head to head quite often on the recruiting trail over the past calendar year.

But with Charlie Strong now the head coach at Texas and several key Cardinals assistants likely headed to Austin with him, Louisville’s loss could end up being Kentucky’s gain.

And with the news that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is likely the frontrunner for the Penn State job, here are several prospects to keep an eye on following the coaching carousel in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day:

LLOYD TUBMAN
Weak-Side Defensive End
Louisville (Ky.) Seneca
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 235
[Committed to Vanderbilt]

The 4-star defensive end was pretty firm in his commitment to the Commodores but with the news that Franklin may be headed home to Pennsylvania, I think this opens the door big time for UK. Even if Franklin doesn’t take the Penn State job, it’s hard to picture Franklin being back in Nashville next season.

Tubman will take an official visit to UK Jan. 17 and Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot’s work with the defensive ends at Florida State could be a major selling point.

UK is already starting to trend on Tubman’s Crystal Ball.

KENDALL RANDOLPH
Safety
Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln
Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 170

At the recent Semper Fidelis Bowl, Randolph declared Louisville his leader but added that UK would receive his final official visit Jan. 24. Randolph was being recruited by UL assistant Ron Dugans, whose future with the program remains unclear.

Randolph was being recruited by Mark Stoops dating back to his days as Florida State defensive coordinator and has a great relationship with the UK boss but watch out for Oklahoma. The Sooners recently entered the picture as well and could be tough to beat if they offer.

T.J. HARRELL
Safety
Tampa (Fla.) Catholic
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210

Louisville had been the heavy favorite for Harrell, who may now be back at square one in his recruitment. He is cousins with Cats running backs coach Chad Scott and is scheduled to take an official visit to Lexington at some point this month.

Ole Miss, Michigan State and Florida State are also in the mix.

CHRIS NELSON
Defensive Tackle
Lakeland (Fla.) Victory Christian Academy
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 295
[Committed to Louisville]

Depending on how thing work out with Matt Elam, Nelson could become a legitimate UK recruiting target along the defensive line. Nelson was very close with UL assistant Brian Jean-Mary and if he is not retained by the new staff, is likely to reopen his recruitment.

BENJAMIN KNOX
Offensive Tackle
Deland (Fla.)
Ht: 6-4.5 | Wt: 260

Louisville had been the leader for Knox and offensive tackle remains priority No. 1 to close out the 2014 class and the pickings are getting slim.

It may be hard to get Knox out of the state of Florida but he is mulling over an official visit to UK and Tennessee. He is from the same school that produced UK freshman running back JoJo Kemp.

Fore more recruiting scoop, head to CatsPause.com.

Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247


Matt Elam will take an official visit to Alabama

@DBarker7

@DBarker7

After Matt Elam postponed his announcement this past weekend, folks worried that the five-star defensive tackle was giving Alabama a closer look. Now, it appears he’s going to do that in person. The Cats Pause’s Josh Edwards is reporting that Elam will take an official visit to Alabama on January 17.

Drew Barker called into the radio show this morning to give fans an update on the Army All-American game, the 2014 class, and what exactly went down with Matt Elam last weekend. Barker, who has moved into his dorm in Lexington and will begin class soon, said that he was very surprised that Elam postponed his decision until Signing Day, and that he found out the news with everyone else.

Where do the Cats stand with Elam? Barker said that he was very confident heading into the Army All-American game, but now, he says he isn’t sure what Elam will do, admitting “it could go either way.” Right now, Elam’s Crystal Ball predictions sit at 61% UK and 39% Alabama.

We’ll have Barker’s full interview up on the site later today.