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Erik Korem: Stoops’ secret weapon and the facility that could keep him here

Erik Korem: Stoops’ secret weapon and the facility that could keep him here

One man tried to make his way across the crowded floor at the Nutter Field House Saturday morning, backpack slung over his shoulders and eyes on the exit. All along the way, fans stopped him to ask questions, and patiently, he obliged, even though it meant whatever was next on the agenda would have to wait. While more prominent staff members and starting football players stood idly by, Erik Korem was the rock star, fans rushing up to get in one last compliment, question, or threat to keep him in the room.

“I’m tying a rope on you. I don’t want you to ever leave us,” UK football superfan Suzanne Allen whispered to Korem, reaching out and pulling his arm towards her. “They need to raise your salary, do whatever they have to do to keep you.”

Korem smiled and assured Suzanne that he and his family are very happy in Lexington. While I admire Suzanne’s determination to keep Korem here by tying a rope to him, after listening to his presentation at the UK Football Women’s Clinic, I don’t think it’s necessary. He’s already tethered to Kentucky by the new state-of-the-art $45 million practice facility, which Stoops gave him complete control over to design from the ground up.

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A “first of its kind” facility

Korem talks about the training facility with the same passion, excitement, and pride one would a child, because, basically, this is his baby. The 100,000-square foot facility will serve as a one-stop shop for the football program, and include a massage therapy room, high-performance weight room, sports science facility, and team doctor’s office with an in-house X-ray machine. Players will want for nothing, with a tutoring center, full-service kitchen, Gatorade and juice bar, and lounge all under the same roof.

“This building encompasses everything that involves the student athlete’s life, from training to eating to meetings and academics,” Korem said, singling out the new CATS tutorial center in particular, noting that it often takes players 20 minutes to walk from the current training center to CATS. Even just a few trips back and forth a day takes away a lot of time they could be dedicating to football. “It’s going to simplify things and bring all of that under one building. I think it’s really going to speed up our development process and it’s really going to make us feel like we’ve got a cool home.”

We’ve already heard about a lot of these features, but Korem gave the clinic and KSR some exclusive details:

  • A sensory deprivation tank similar to those used by Navy SEALS and special warfare units. This will help calm players down and alleviate stress, promoting faster mental recovery from workouts, games, life, etc. (Can I use that, too?)
  • An indoor turf area, 25 yards long by 20 yards wide for players to warm up on before lifting and utilize for speed drills
  • Glass garage doors that open right up onto the training fields from the indoor turf so the players can extend their workouts outside during warm weather
  • A 70-foot long, 6-foot deep cold plunge tank capable of holding 30-40 players at once. Korem saw the concept in Australia and prefers the large pool to more common cold tubs because the deeper you get in the water, the higher the pressure gets. In addition, players will be able to move around in the pool, which will release the microbubbles that surround the body, creating a better cooling effect. The first of its kind in the US. “The cold plunge tank was a big deal,” Korem admits.
  • Turf training hills, one sloped at 20 degrees and one at 15 degrees, along with two plyometric ramps. Oregon is the only other program in the country — college or pro — with this feature.

Korem says the state-of-the-art high performance lab is the first of its kind, and he and head strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond are still customizing equipment as it comes in.

“We created some of our own stuff, so I’m excited for people to look at us and see it’s not just in the high-performance realm, it’s a lot of stuff,” he said. “I think the people of Kentucky are going to be pretty stinking proud of this building.”

dupree-combine

“God made Bud Dupree. We just polished him up.”

What makes Korem’s high-performance program even more impressive are the results it’s producing heading into year three. Like Avery Williamson last year, Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith opted to train with Korem for the NFL Combine instead of paying for outside training, and the results spoke for themselves. Dupree was one of the standouts at the Combine, turning in the fastest results for a player his size, vaulting his stock into the first round. Pittsburgh is now grooming him as a starter heading into training camp.

“You can’t make Bud Dupree,” Korem said. “God made Bud Dupree and we just polished him up. He’s still going to get better.”

What’s the method to Korem’s magic? He worked as a speed development consultant with track and field athletes during the 2008 Olympics and applied those drills and tactics to the Combine training. Dupree had all of his meals before the Combine designed by a nutritionist and delivered to him to achieve maximum results. Korem’s program has been so successful that many former players in the NFL, including Williamson, Randall Cobb, and Tim Masthay, are coming back each offseason to train at UK.

The craziest part? Korem says he enjoys helping former players prepare for the combine and train so much that he does it all on his own time. The high-performance program has always been interesting, but now that it’s turning UK players into first round NFL Draft picks, it’s an integral part of the new Kentucky football.

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The best is yet to come

At SEC Media Days, senior offensive tackle Jordan Swindle trotted out the much-ballyhooed stat that two years ago, only five player on the team could run over 19 MPH, and now, over 33 players run over 19 MPH. I mentioned that stat to Korem and he laughed.

“I have to correct Jordan. Our first year, we had five that could run over 19 MPH in the first game and next year, it was like 14, and two weeks ago in training, we had 31 over 20 MPH, so I didn’t even count the guys running over 19, so it’s even faster.”

(For perspective, when Boom Williams broke out for his first touchdown against Ohio, he was clocked at 21.7 MPH.)

While Korem and Coach Edmond have been focusing on acceleration with the Catapult tracking system, a lot of the improvement, of course, is due to Stoops and the staff recruiting better talent.

“I’ll be honest, you have to bring in good talent. It makes your job way easier when you have good talent to work with,” Korem said.

Ready for another mind-blowing stat? Korem said when he and Stoops’ staff came in, only six to eight guys could jump over 30 inches vertically. After one summer, 35 players could jump over 30 inches and now, 40-50 players clear the benchmark. Whoa.

“Getting the best players better is important, but one thing Coach Edmond always talks about, if we can improve the average player, that’s really important. So, if our average player is significantly better, then we’re a better football team,” Korem said, noting how players now pass the eye test. “All you have to do is look at our guys in their uniforms and you can tell we look better, we’ve lost a lot of fat, we’ve gained a lot of muscle. In between the ears, we’ve improved as well. Our guys are making big strides and being more accountable. Mentally tough and it’s only going to get better.”

Jacob Hyde

All-in on results

Korem said he’s spent a good part of this offseason helping players form better habits to support improved performance, and he’s noticed players are taking ownership of their training both in and out of the weight room.

“I want guys to manage the training process themselves. We want guys to become self-aware, we’re creating ways for guys to see the data on their cell phones,” Korem said. “Guys will pull me aside and say, ‘Coach, I wasn’t at my best, why not?’ I’ll say, ‘well, let’s look at the past three days, what were your habits like? And then when guys start buying in, getting to bed earlier, turning the video games off, hydrating more, and all of a sudden the changes come and they buy in? That’s when the locker room culture changes because ‘hey, this stuff works.'”

“To us, it’s the 22 hours outside the building that will affect their performance more than anything else,” Korem said. “We train two hours. They’ve got 22 other hours that they’re training but they don’t even know it.”

Now they do, and that awareness is paying off.

So, about that rope…

Since his first summer at Kentucky, Korem’s high-performance program has been turning heads, attention he credits to the hard work of his entire staff, specifically Coach Edmond. Korem told me that representatives from NFL teams, NBA teams, and Australian rules football teams regularly contact him to pick his brain about what he’s doing at Kentucky. In fact, he said he talked to an NFL team just the other day. (I can feel Suzanne’s arm reaching out instinctively.) When I asked if these teams try to poach him, Korem admitted he’s had some offers, but he remains loyal to Mark Stoops.

“There have been some opportunities,” Korem said. “But I’m happy here and Coach Stoops is a great man to work for. To me, it’s all about people, really. If you’re working with a good group of people, it makes things so much fun and I think we have a good group of people here.”

Also, a brand new training facility that will open next July; a facility that Korem’s been dreaming of his entire career, and is now molding, brick by brick.

“As far as my input, the administration said ‘hey, what do you want in this building?'” Korem said. “The high-performance lab, I think that’s kind of unheard of. When I explained to Coach Stoops what would go in there, he said, ‘hey, let’s do it.’ You don’t want to be different just for different’s sake, but you want to actually have things that will make a difference.”

For a program trying to succeed in a league as competitive as the SEC, you have to be a little different to make a difference.


Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets of the Day

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This summer enjoy Wendy’s® new Baconator Fries. Applewood-smoked bacon cooked fresh in our kitchens every day, and melty cheddar cheese, on top of our signature natural-cut fries. Now at a Wendy’s near you.
For a limited time only. Price and participation may vary.


You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:

#10 Penn State

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9 Jeff Bidwell ‎


This should go well. I have a feeling Matt doesn’t like to be touched by grown men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8 Matthew Mahone ‎


That’s going to be one good looking 70 year old man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 Landon Foster ‎


Let this be a lesson. Never stand up Marcus Lee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6 DeLanna Johnson ‎


We should all sign everything like this. That would make a nice marriage license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Bobby Shain ‎


Woah woah. Slow down, Bobby. You still have like 40+ days until football season. That’s going to be way too much beer between now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 Gary Green ‎


Seconded. You’ll get the KSR experience in every swing. If you follow Drew on snapchat then you know what I mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 Trey Lyles ‎


I love it when players get sassy on twitter. It is my favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 Brent


Good idea, actually. Let’s divide it up. Everyone gets 25 seconds each. Go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 John Williams ✞ ‎


I laughed way to hard at this…and then I got really sad. Is it too late to send a sympathy card, or?

 

@Hessler_KSR


Chuck Hayes signs a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets

Chuck Hayes is heading back to Houston. According to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, the Houston Rockets have agreed to sign Hayes to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal.

Hayes was with the Rockets from 2006-2011 before being traded to the Sacramento Kings, and later, the Toronto Raptors. Hayes is 32 now, and averaged 1.7 points and 8.8 minutes per game last season for the Raptors.

Still got it!


2016 DT Commit Kobe Smith: Freddie’s Take

OK, these three days have been surreal. I’m certainly not complaining. The BBN’s Football Division was more than overdue for a few days like this. And let me remind you, it’s ok to enjoy the process. Based on historical rug pools, I sense that many are hesitantly optimistic. Stop it. Oh yeah I almost forgot, YAHTZEE!

Archer High School’s Kobe Smith has pledged his allegiance to the Big Blue. In the past, multiple quality skill players have committed and inked with the Wildcats. But this 2016 class is noticeably diverse. A bountiful number of elite offensive linemen are on board. Matter of fact, multiple All-Americans reside within its horde. Now, an equally as impressive defensive counterpart has joined their ranks.

Kobe Smith looks and plays like a defensive tackle that we are used to seeing trot out of the opposite tunnel. At 6’3″ 315 lbs., Smith appeared agile, mean, and athletic on film. I was equally impressed by his quick hand shoots. I’ll explain. Defensive tackles come out of their stance and are coached to shoot or drive their hands through the offensive blockers to gain momentum and control. Smith’s initial punch is violently fast. At defensive tackle, any and all on-the-field “violent” references are a positive.

Kobe’s tape also showed line of scrimmage disruption, accurate and timely pursuit angles all the while maintaining gap responsibility. I’ll explain again. Line of scrimmage disruption applies when defenders travel past offensive linemen in order to influence the ball carrier’s path or make tackles for loss. Pursuit angles refer to the direction a defender takes toward the ball carrier in order to make the tackle. If behind, he’s too late to make the tackle. If too far ahead, the offensive player has time to react and can make defenders miss. Gap responsibility is when a defensive tackle is assigned to occupy a space between the offensive guard and tackle. By doing so, running backs have nowhere to go, thus forcing them to bounce outside where awaiting linebackers are present to make the tackle. All prior traits are indications of a well-coached and fundamentally developed defensive lineman.

If it remains intact, the 2016 class will be Mark Stoops’ best work to date. A positive sign of program growth is that beginning in 2013, each class that followed has trumped the previous. However, 2016 looks and feels different. UK isn’t supposed to be able to recruit line of scrimmage players. Or that’s the bill of goods we’ve been sold for way too many painful years.

Kobe Smith will immediately compete for playing time. How much clock will he get? Totally on him. That’s the best case scenario for an incoming freshman athlete. Welcome aboard.

Sincerely,

The Yahtzee Nation


3-star DT Kobe Smith commits to Kentucky!

3-star DT Kobe Smith commits to Kentucky!

The dice are still hot! As expected, three-star defensive tackle Kobe Smith committed to Kentucky tonight via Twitter:

The 6’4″ 295 lbs. Smith decommitted from NC State one day after he camped at Kentucky and is considered the 44th best defensive end in the 2016 class by 247 Sports. He’s now the 21st commitment in the 2016 class, which is looking pretty, pretty, pretty good:

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Smith’s commitment pushes Kentucky’s 2016 class to 12th in Rivals’ team rankings. (247 Sports’ rankings have yet to be updated.)

Who’s next?


Meet Aaron Harrison’s competition in Charlotte

If Aaron Harrison is going to make Charlotte’s regular season roster, he will likely have to beat out Elliot Williams for the final guard spot.

The Hornets signed Williams today, giving the team one too many players for a 15-man roster. Williams and Harrison are the only two signed players in Charlotte without fully guaranteed contracts.

A former McDonald’s All-American, Duke Blue Devil and Memphis Tiger, Williams was the 22nd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury and then a significant part of his second year with a shoulder injury. His best season was in Philadelphia in 2013-14 when he averaged six points and 17 minutes per game in 67 appearances.

Williams saw very limited time for Utah and New Orleans last season, before earning NBA D-League Finals MVP honors with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Sounds like to me this guy has had plenty of chances and he’s getting old.

Take Aaron.


2018 five-star wide receiver showing UK love

Jermaine Eskridge is the No. 2 wide receiver in the 2018 recruiting class and he is very high on the Cats. The Tampa product named his top five schools in the midst of yesterday’s recruiting madness and UK made the list, along with Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

Today he gave Kentucky a shout-out on Twitter:

Football recruiting is absolutely insane right now. Eskridge is the 26th ranked prospect in the entire class and he’s tweeting about the Cats.

Never thought we’d see the day.


Bullitt County man arrested for gunning down a drone above his home

A Hillview man was arrested on Sunday after he gunned down a drone with a Number 8 birdshot that was hovering over his property.

The man, William Meredith, told popular technology website Ars Technica, “It was hovering, I would never have shot it if it was flying. When he came down with a video camera right over my back deck, that’s not going to work. I know they’re neat little vehicles, but one of those uses shouldn’t be flying into people’s yards and videotaping.”

Moments after the drone went down, a car full of men approached Meredith’s home to confront him. He said one of them asked, “Are you the son of a bitch that shot my drone?”

Meredith, now wearing a 10mm glock on his hip, replied, “If you cross that sidewalk onto my property, there’s going to be another shooting.”

He was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He was released the following day.

Read the entire story with more from Meredith on ArsTechnica.com.

Now let’s throw this one out for discussion…

Did he have the right to blast the drone that was hovering over his property with a camera? In his defense, he has young daughters who were out on the back deck when it came by, although the drone owners say they were getting photos of a nearby house.

This is a tough one. I would’ve thrown a football at it, at least. Probably would’ve mooned it first.

Here’s the news report from WDRB:

WDRB 41 Louisville News


Calipari offered a 2017 five-star forward last night

Coach Cal is busy trying to piece together a potentially historic 2016 recruiting class, but he hasn’t forgotten to stay in touch with the 2017 guys in the process. Last night he extended a scholarship offer to Jarred Vanderbilt, a top-five player in the class.

Vanderbilt is the 10th high school junior to receive an offer from Kentucky. He tweeted the news last night shortly after hearing from Calipari:

At 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, Vanderbilt is ESPN’s No. 1 power forward and the No. 2 small forward in the Rivals and Top247 rankings.

Check him out at the NBA’s Top 100 Camp…

 


Kobe Smith announcement coming up at 8:00 pm

We’re about three hours away from Kobe Smith’s decision and everything we’re hearing suggests it will be yet another Yahtzee for the University of Kentucky.

The announcement will come at 8:00 pm, according to Patrick Loney, and we will have plenty on the three-star defensive tackle if he does indeed pick the Cats over NC State and Miami.

So check back a little later this evening and (hopefully) celebrate Mark Stoops’ 21st commitment in the 2016 recruiting class.

Smith is a big ol’ boy at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds…


Coach Cal stopped by Steelers camp today

Cover your eyes, Bengals fans.

John Calipari stopped by Steelers training camp while in Pittsburgh today to check on his favorite NFL team. He took a second to pose with a fellow Wildcat during the break in the action.

Former Louisville defensive back William Gay got a photo with Cal, too.

Put that L down.


Harry Giles is leaving the state of North Carolina

Kentucky’s chances of landing the No. 1 player in America got a little help today when Harry Giles announced he will leave North Carolina for his senior season of basketball. Giles is transferring to Oak Hill in Virginia to finish out his high school career.

The move doesn’t change the fact that Giles is born and bred North Carolina and has family around the state, but it does get him a little farther away from those home state schools, and their fans, competing with Kentucky for his services.

Giles announced the news this afternoon with a lengthy message on Twitter:

In case you missed it, Jeff Goodman called Giles the second best prospect he’s seen in the last decade, behind Anthony Davis.


Football seniors recap their trip to Prague

Football seniors recap their trip to Prague

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Zach West, Landon Foster and Jordan Swindle visited Prague earlier this summer and Kentucky Wildcats TV has a video recap of their trip.

Watch as the three football seniors explain what it meant to them and what they took away from their time overseas. It sounds like a really enlightening experience.

https://youtu.be/uzoNvLmT06Y


CoachCal.com introduces Charles Matthews

CoachCal.com

It’s that time of the year, Cats fans, when CoachCal.com introduces us to the fresh faces in the basketball program. Today it’s incoming freshman Charles Matthews who was profiled in the summer series, and it appears he’s taking over the “artsy” title Willie Cauley-Stein left behind.

“I like art because people get to express themselves,” Matthews told CoachCal.com. “If you look at a lot of artists, everybody has their own style, their own sense of culture, and all of their art represents them in some ways.”

Matthews won’t be picking up Willie’s sidewalk chalk, but he is a fan of a street artist in his hometown of Chicago. He also enjoys watching Martin (shout-out to Doron Lamb) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, plus eating steak and listening to Drake. (R.I.P. Meek Mill #BackToBack)

Read more about UK’s first commitment from the 2015 recruiting class in his “Meet The Wildcat” feature on CoachCal.com.


The CWS video boards get a paint job

Many of you will be happy to know the video boards at Commonwealth Stadium are getting a paint job today. UK Athletics tweeted this photo showing the back of the boards going from dated gray to new blue as part of the ongoing renovation to be completed before the season opener.

I said to be completed before the season opener, right UK???