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Blue Smith has a Decision Date

Photo by Adam Lacy | Huber Heights Courier

Vince Marrow’s battle with Ohio Sate for Blue Smith will soon come to an end.  UK’s most sought after recruit in the state of Ohio will announce his college decision on August 27.

Smith, Rivals’ top-ranked athlete in the 2018 recruiting class, told Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt after this weekend’s camp at Ohio State he will make his college selection before Wayne High School opens the season on ESPN with a 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon kickoff against Pine-Richland (Pa.).  Revealing this date after visiting Ohio State should be considered coincidental; he previously said he thought the ESPN spotlight for the home-opener would be the best time to make his decision and I don’t think anyone can disagree.

There are ten schools in the running for Smith’s services.  Cincinnati, Tennessee and Michigan State are making a late push, but it’s essentially a toe-to-toe fight between Kentucky and Ohio State.  Last weekend he camped in Columbus.  The previous weekend he came to Lexington with Alex Reigelsperger, a 2018 UK commit and Wayne teammate.   Reigelsperger and the Kentucky coaches are selling UK football as a family.

“It’s just the camaraderie they have in the locker room,” Smith told Rivals. “Even if they come from different backgrounds, when they come to Kentucky and are on the football team it is like everyone is a brother. It is just a big family, so that’s why I enjoy it when I go down there.”

In the interview, Smith also noted he plans on visiting Lexington one more time before making his decision.

Considered an athlete by all of the major recruiting services, he’s a 6’5″ outside wide receiver.  Initially recruited by the Buckeyes to play tight end, Marrow made sure Smith knew he would be an outside receiver at UK.  After watching his highlights, it’s hard to see why anyone would want him to change positions.

Kentucky redshirt freshman safety Tobias “Cash” Gilliam is also a product of Wayne High School.  Today UK offered another Wayne defensive back, 2019 track athlete and cornerback Justin Harris.

[Rivals]


Girl Scouts Begin Setting Up Cookie Booth Outside Kroger Field

Girl Scouts Begin Setting Up Cookie Booth Outside Kroger Field

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Harold Leeder, editor-in-chief of The New Circle Circular, Lexington’s #1 source of fake news you can’t count on.

Now that the football stadium has officially been renamed and the ‘Kroger Field’ signage is in place, Girl Scouts have begun setting up their cookie booths near all of the stadium’s entrances as they prepare for a season of guilting fans into buying cookies every time they come to the game.

“I mean I like the cookies and everything but I don’t want to buy them every time I go to the stadium,” said long-time season ticket holder Kyle Trefoil. “I just want to walk into the stadium, I don’t want to have to fend off these poor girls that have been pressured by their parents to approach strange people asking for money while I’ve been drinking in the hot sun all day.”

Other fans felt the cookie booths were a bad idea for different reasons. “This is entrapment!” student ticket holder Caramella D. Lites said. “If I’ve been out tailgating since the sun came up, I’m obviously gonna hand over all of my cash for those cookies. Then I’m going to have to pick up extra shifts at the cafeteria.”

In addition to Girl Scouts outside the stadium, later in the season fans can look forward to pretending not to have any change when Salvation Army bell ringers setup by the entrance. Other changes fans can expect include more crowded concourses on game days as old ladies will be standing in front of concession stands with free sample cups full of olives and employees pulling giant Click List carts clogging up the walkways for fans that want to enjoy the game but don’t feel like coming inside.

Not all of the changes are expected to be negative though. Many are praising the discontinuation of senior discounts, saying it couldn’t come at a better time as most of the offensive line will be playing in the final season this year.

To keep up with The New Circle Circular, like the Facebook page or follow Harold Leeder’s Twitter Account.


Student Season Football Tickets are on Sale RIGHT NOW

Student Season Football Tickets are on Sale RIGHT NOW

Students, the time is now.

Season tickets for the 2017 Kentucky football season are on sale for all UK students.  To see seven games at Kroger Field it costs just $35.  Five bucks a game.  You can’t beat it, especially after the student basketball tickets just doubled to $10 a game.

If you’re a new student or have never been to a UK home football game, these tickets aren’t technically seated tickets.  You’ll receive a voucher for general admission seating.  The best seats are reserved for those who are in line early, prepared to cheer on the Cats.

Every year those who think everything was better back in their day complain about the turnout in the student section.  Now is your time to prove them wrong.  Click here to register for season tickets and prepare for a spectacular season of football, one where you may see the program reach heights never achieved in your lifetime.


Kentucky Football Fan Day Details

Photo by Michael Huang

Want to meet and mingle with your favorite Kentucky Wildcats? Fan Day is set for Saturday, August 5 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET at Nutter Field House and the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. As in years past, the autograph session will be followed by an open practice on the fields next to the training facility. Here’s the schedule, courtesy of UK:

  • 9 a.m. ET: Nutter Field House doors open
  • 9-10:15 a.m. ET: Autograph session
  • 10:40 a.m. ET: Gates to practice field open
  • 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET: Practice open to fans and media

And a little Benny Snell/Stephen Johnson video from @UKFootball to get you fired up:


WATCH: This Kentucky Football hype video will give you chills

WATCH: This Kentucky Football hype video will give you chills

We are 40 days from football season, and to celebrate, the folks at KyWildcatsTV put together one of their best hype videos yet. Check out this compilation of pep talks from Rich Brooks, Danny Trevathan, Jacob Tamme, Stevie Johnson, Randall Cobb, Wesley Woodyard, and Mark Stoops:

Is it September 2 yet??


Brandon Knight suffers major injury

Brandon Knight suffers major injury

This is the type of news you hate to share. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Brandon Knight has torn the ACL in his left knee. The former Cat and current Phoenix Suns guard could miss the entire 2017-18 NBA season.

This is the latest unlucky break for Knight, who has struggled to find his place on the Phoenix roster in recent years. Last season, he averaged 11.0 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game and functioned mostly as the Suns’ sixth man, but was shut down along with Eric Bledsoe when the team decided to tank after the All-Star game.

Minor setback for a major comeback, right?


WATCH: Kentucky Basketball does the #DriveByDunkChallenge

WATCH: Kentucky Basketball does the #DriveByDunkChallenge

Following in the footsteps of John Calipari, Anthony Davis, and De’Aaron Fox, the Kentucky Basketball team turned in their installment of the Drive-By Dunk Challenge this afternoon. Watch below as Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Jonny David get in on the latest internet craze:

Hey college basketball: hide your kids, hide your rims, hide your coaches, because Kentucky Basketball is coming for you.


Lexington a more educated city than Louisville, per recent study

Lexington a more educated city than Louisville, per recent study

Here’s a new piece of ammunition in the rivalry between Lexington and Louisville: according to a recent study by WalletHub, Lexington is the most educated city in Kentucky and the 24th most educated city in America.

Louisville came in at No. 88 in the study, which compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas across nine key metrics. The data set ranges from share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to quality of the public school system to gender education gap.

Other towns of note in the rankings:

1. Ann Arbor, MI
4. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
9. Austin, TX
24. Lexington-Fayette, KY
25. Atlanta, GA
33. Chicago, IL
36. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
52. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
57. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
81. Knoxville, TN
88. Louisville/Jefferson county, KY-IN
103. Baton Rouge, LA
134. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH

Check out the survey and its methodology here.


UNC will meet with NCAA Infractions Committee soon

There’s finally been a bit of movement in the NCAA’s investigation into the UNC academic scandal.

According to Jeff Gravley of WRAL, UNC’s hearing with the NCAA Committee of Infractions will take place August 16-17 in Nashville. The NCAA has requested that basketball coach Roy Williams, football coach Larry Fedora, and women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell attend.

In case you need a refresher, UNC has been charged with five Level 1 infractions, including a lack of institutional control and failing to sufficiently monitor its academic support program for athletes. The scandal centers around classes in the African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department that required no class time and only a paper or two to pass. UNC’s defense is that both student athletes and normal students benefitted from the courses, therefore it shouldn’t be considered an NCAA matter; however, in its correspondence today, the NCAA soundly debunked that theory.

“The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s business,” the NCAA wrote. “When a member institution allows an academic department to provide benefits to student-athletes that are materially different from the general student body, it is the NCAA’s business.”

So, I should go cover the meetings, right?

[WRAL Sports Fan]


Ramel Bradley turned KSR into Kentucky Smooth Radio

Ramel Bradley is one of the coolest Cats we’ve had at Kentucky, and today, he turned KSR into Kentucky Smooth Radio. If you missed the show live, be sure to catch up on podcast to hear Ramel tell stories from his time at UK and in the pros (including the time he outscored LeBron James 27-2) and give us an update on his work with AppHarvest in Eastern Kentucky. He also brought on some special guests, including Tim Couch, and talked about his 2012 hit, “It’s not your booty, it’s your beauty”:

Podcast below:

And the schedule for the home stretch of shows before Matt’s return on Monday:

  • Wednesday: UK Baseball Coach Nick Mingione
  • Thursday: KSR contest winners
    • 1st hour: Homers Radio from Owensboro (David Clark, Stephen Turner and Brandon Ward)
    • 2nd hour: CaliforniaTucky Crew (Brian Ross and Josh Sharpe)
  • Friday: KSR Crew

The Kroger Field sign is complete

@cutler18

Read it and weep: Commonwealth Stadium is officially Kroger Field. You’re looking at the completed sign on the north side of the stadium, courtesy of @cutler18.

Feel free to share your best Kroger Field jokes below. I know you’ve got a lot of them.


Kentucky Football 2017 Statistical Benchmarks

Kentucky Football 2017 Statistical Benchmarks

Pic by Food+Tech Connect

2016 presented inconsistencies along several statistical classifications. For example, Kentucky ranked first in the SEC’s 4th down conversion category but finished dead last in punting and turnover margin. Remarkable.

This post will analyze three statistical categories: Non-Negotiable Improvements, Advantage Developments, and Sustains. Each category will highlight statistical collections that must be vastly improved, somewhat increased, or simply maintained. First, we’ll define the categories:

  • Non-Negotiable Improvements are self-explanatory. For UK to enjoy a successful season it must address and immensely improve upon the listed statistical classifications.
  • Advantage Developments examine actions that were not listed in the upper half of the league but needs to show some improvement in order for Kentucky to better its win/loss record from a year ago.
  • Sustain is easy. No change, continue status quo, keep on keeping on, keep on truckin’; you get the picture.

Pic by USA Today

Non-Negotiable Improvements

Turnover Margin

2016: Recovered 8 fumbles, intercepted 13 passes for a +21 margin. Conversely, UK lost 16 fumbles, threw 12 interceptions for a total of -28. Combined, it formulated a -7 total turnover margin (14th or last in the SEC).

2017 Goal: This number needs to be in the +2 level at a minimum. Mid-pack in the league was a +3 a year ago. This digit’s reduction will assist most all other statistical areas of concern. Last year’s turnovers twisted potential blowout wins into nail biters (Vanderbilt) and potential close game victories into losses (Georgia).

Punting

2016: 61 punts, 2335-yards, 38.3 yards per, allowed 125 return yards for a 2-yard average, kicked 5 touchbacks which equaled a total 34.6 net yards per punt (SEC-14th)

2017 Goal: Again, just shooting for mid-level production, a 39-40-yard net punt average would greatly improve field position and ease strain on the defense. Strategic, inside the ten-yard line punt placement also needs immense upgrading. Regardless, punting has to drastically improve.

3rd Down Defense

2016: Opponents converted 80 of 180 3rd down attempts for a 44.4% success percentage (SEC-13th)

2017 Goal: 39% would provide Eddie Gran’s offense with more possessions which could translate to additional points. 39% ranks in the middle of the SEC. Plus, getting off the field has been a struggle for Stoops’ defense throughout his tenure. Personnel shortages have greatly impacted this deficiency. 3rd down defense improved down the stretch in 2016 which could act as a precursor for this number to drop even further.

Rush Defense

2016Opponents had 576 carries for 2966-yards, 25 TDs. 5.1 yards per attempt and 228 yards per game ranked 12th in the SEC.

2017 Goal: A realistic goal and more likely a blue lensed view would be for the Wildcats to allow 195-200 yards per game. Lack of proven defensive line depth significantly factors in this estimation. However, UK has an upper-level linebacker corps and secondary which includes the conference’s top two returning tacklers: LB Jordan Jones (109) and Safety Mike Edwards (100). I’m least confident in rush defense improvement than all other statistical projections within this study.


Pic by Kansas City Star

Advantage Developments

Quarterback Sacks

2016Kentucky produced 21 QB sacks for a -171 yards (SEC-11th)  

2017 Goal: A conservative 29. 83% of last year’s sacks came from the linebackers. Josh Allen and Denzil Ware combined for 12.5 a year ago. That total was more than Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith combined for in their last season in Lexington. Factor in LB Jordan Jones, Jamar “Boogie” Watson, and a potential rookie or two and 29 is easily an attainable goal.

The Cats had several close call sacks during which the quarterback escaped pressure in 2016. The most important number here is the aforementioned 83%. The defensive line and select defensive backs will need to increase its contribution in order for total sacks to increase by eight.

Tackles for Loss

2016: 69 tackles for loss for -277 yards, averaged 5.39 TFL per game.  

2017 Goal: 80. This column has varied over the years. From 54 in Stoops’ first season to 65 in Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith’s last season in Lexington. 2015’s 53 TFLs was last in the league. Kentucky’s jump to 69 a year ago was quite impressive but not surprising with four explosive linebackers. Matter of fact, LB Jordan Jones (15.5 TFL) and LB/DE Denzil Ware (12 TFL) are the league’s number one and three returning leaders in this category respectively. 

Scoring Offense

2016: Scored 49 touchdowns, 44 extra points, two 2-point conversions, 16 field goals for 390 total points, 30 points per game (SEC-9th) 

2017 Goal: 35 points per game. A decrease in turnovers will increase scoring opportunities. Couple that with a sustained, efficient Red Zone offense and it’s easy to envision UK adding five points per game.

Scoring Defense

2016: Allowed 50 touchdowns, 48 extra points, one 2-point conversion, 19 field goals, 407 total points, 31.3 points per game (SEC-11th)  

2017 Goal: 27 points per game. With question marks surrounding its defensive line, projecting the Wildcats to decrease its total points per game by four-points per game is a realistic approach. This number isn’t as much of a reflection of an ineffective defense but more out of respect to offenses it will face. Many are expected to light up scoreboards. Missouri, Georgia, Louisville, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and even Florida are all projected to possess more offensive weapons in 2017. Expect several shootouts.


Pic by SEC Country

Sustains

Offensive 4th Down Conversions

201612 out of 16 attempts, 75% (SEC-1st)

2017 Goal: More of same

Rushing Offense

2016: 560 carries, 3044 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 30 touchdowns, 234.2 yards per game (SEC-3rd)

2017 Goal: Continued success. The Cats will be in more shootout games this fall. Its ability to maintain line-of-scrimmage management and a physical run game will be the separating factor that could catapult Kentucky to an improved win total. Ramifications of losing Stanley Williams will be quickly identified.

RB Benny Snell is an established, 1000-yard rusher. Finding a rotation behind Snell will be paramount. Promising freshmen AJ Rose and Bryant Koback are capable, fast, and powerful. Sihiem King is a change of pace and direction back that could get quality carries.

QB Stephen Johnson is the key to the Kentucky rushing game. He must be able to present the threat of an RPO (Run-Pass-Option) to keep additional defenders from stacking the box. In addition, a higher completion percentage of short to intermediate pass plays can also act as a preventer from opponents focusing solely on stopping the run.

Pass Defense

2016: Opponents attempted 352 passes, completed 202, 13 interceptions, 57.4%, 2679 yards, 7.6 yards per, 20 touchdowns, 206.1 yards per game (SEC-5th) 

2017 Goal: Projecting a number here is difficult. This category will be greatly impacted by pass rush and an increase of quarterback sacks. UK has talented cornerbacks and an elite safety. It has a top-5 SEC secondary. However, numbers are driven by exterior influences. 

Red Zone Offense

2016: Converted 36 times from 42 trips to Red Zone, 85.7%, 25 touchdowns, 11 field goals

2017 Goal: Sustain success and become more diverse

Field Goal Percentage

2016: Attempted 19 field goals, converted 16 for 84.2% (SEC-3rd)  

2017 Goal: Kicker Austin MacGinnis is one of if not the best kicker in the history of the University of Kentucky. Enough said.


What does all this mean?

Numbers don’t lie. 2016 was an anomaly as Kentucky was last in turnover margin and punting yet won 4 SEC games. Depth, experience, and player development are all catch phrases that could be displayed in hard data in 2017.


Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo and LaVar Ball tomorrow in Vegas

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo and LaVar Ball tomorrow in Vegas

How appropriate is it that one of the most anticipated matchups of the summer will take place in Las Vegas?

Tomorrow night, 2018 phenom Zion Williamson and his SC Supreme squad will face off against the youngest member of the Ball family, LaMelo, and Big Baller Brand, coached by the infamous LaVar, in the adidas Summer Championships. Zion is considered the second best player in the 2018 class, while LaMelo is currently the top ranked point guard in 2019 in ESPN’s rankings.

Like his brothers, LaMelo has gotten more than his fair share of publicity over the past few years, but this summer, he’s going toe-to-toe with the best players in the country now that Big Baller Brand is participating in major AAU tournaments. This probably won’t surprise you, but this past weekend, LaVar pulled his team off the court and forfeited a game at a tournament in California. LaMelo found it all hilarious (language NSFW):

His dad’s antics aside, LaMelo can ball. He turned in back-to-back 50-point games earlier this month:

That’s all fine and good, but I have a feeling Zion will steal the show tomorrow night. Look at what he did in front of John Calipari a few weeks back at the adidas Gauntlet:

On Friday, LaMelo will go head-to-head vs. Zion’s friend and potential future Kentucky teammate Immanuel Quickley. While Zion vs. Big Baller Brand will steal headlines, that’s the real matchup Kentucky fans should look out for. Expect John Calipari to be front and center for both.


Kickoff times announced for the Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina games

Get your calendars out because the SEC Network just announced the kickoff times for the first three weeks of the season.

Kentucky’s home opener vs. Eastern Kentucky on September 9 will kick off at 12 p.m. ET  and their first SEC road game vs. South Carolina on September 16 will take place under the lights at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be televised on the SEC Network.

Your kickoff times for the first three games:

  • September 2, 4:00 PM ET: at Southern Miss, CBS Sports Network
  • September 9, 12:00 PM ET: vs. Eastern Kentucky, SEC Network
  • September 16, 7:30 PM ET: at South Carolina, SEC Network

And the rest of the SEC Network’s schedule for first three weeks of the season:

Saturday, September 2

  • Missouri State at Missouri, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Charleston Southern at Mississippi State, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Georgia Southern at Auburn, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network

Saturday, September 9

  • Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • UT Martin at Ole Miss, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Indiana State at Tennessee, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Alabama A&M at Vanderbilt, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Northern Colorado at Florida, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • UT Chattanooga at LSU, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate

Saturday, September 16

  • Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas A&M, 12 pm ET/11 am CT on SEC Network
  • Purdue at Missouri, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Mercer at Auburn, 4 pm ET/3 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate
  • Kentucky at South Carolina, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network
  • Samford at Georgia, 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT on SEC Network Alternate

Interested in writing for KSR?

The time has come again. We are looking for new, talented writers to join our team! 

Are you a college student who has a passion for writing about UK sports? Are you interested in pursuing a career in the sports media field? This might be the perfect opportunity for you.

Many of our writers get the chance to cover the John Calipari Fantasy Experience and also get credentialed to UK sporting events. We’ve had numerous writers go on to get internships and full-time jobs at ESPN, various television and radio stations, Hearst Magazine, major newspapers, athletic conferences, and more. Being a KSR writer can also be a great experience to see if the media field truly is for you in the long-term.

Our focus is to find writers who attend college in the state of Kentucky (UK, Transy, EKU, Centre, etc), so that you are able to cover events on campus or in the community. If you also have experience in photography, video, editing, photoshop, etc let us know.

Writing for KSR is a great opportunity and a lot of fun, but our writers also put a lot of hard work and effort into this position. If writing about UK sports is your passion, it should be a great experience and we encourage you to apply.

Here’s what you need to apply:

1). Cover letter explaining why you’re interested in writing for KSR. Give us a little background information as well (who you are, where you’re from, etc)

2). Resume

3). A writing sample of your best work. This can be a previous piece from school that you believe is strong but also include a sample piece you would write for KSR.

4). Class/work schedule so we know when you are available to write

Email all the above materials to KSRapplication@gmail.com. The deadline to apply is Friday, August 11 at 5pm. Good luck and we look forward to reading your submissions!

Note: We are only taking 4-5 writers this time around and have a quick turnaround to select writers, so submit your application right away. We can’t accept submissions after 5pm on August 11th.