By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 28th, 2018 @ 10:30am
With one week left until the SEC Tournament, Kentucky’s seed is still very much up in the air. Arkansas’ win over Auburn last night threw a wrench into Kentucky’s path to the double bye to the point that we won’t know for sure whether the Cats will be a three, four, or five-seed until Saturday.
For Kentucky to secure the double-bye, they’re either going to have to win out or get a little help from Missouri.
First thing’s first: Beat Ole Miss
Kentucky is currently a 9.5-point favorite vs. Ole Miss tonight. With a win, they would move to 10-7, placing them in a three-way tie for third with Florida and Arkansas. Using SEC tiebreakers, Florida would get the three seed (2-0 vs. UK & Ark.), leaving Arkansas and Kentucky tied with matching 1-1 records between the three teams. If the season was over tomorrow, Kentucky would get the four-seed because they beat Arkansas last week, but it doesn’t, which makes Saturday so important.
Here are the scenarios:
If Kentucky goes 2-0 = Three-seed
If the Cats take care of business tonight vs. Ole Miss and pull off a win vs. Florida in Gainesville, they will play the late game Friday night with a potential rematch with two-seed Tennessee looming in the semifinals.
If Kentucky goes 1-1 (beats Ole Miss, loses to Florida) and Missouri beats Arkansas = Four-seed
If Missouri beats Arkansas, they would enter a three-way tie with Kentucky and the Razorbacks for fourth. Kentucky would get the four-seed due to tiebreakers (UK 2-1, Missouri 2-2, Arkansas 1-2) and play Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. ET.
If Kentucky goes 1-1 (beats Ole Miss, loses to Florida) and Arkansas beats Missouri = Five-seed
If Arkansas knocks off Missouri in Columbia and Kentucky loses to Florida, the Razorbacks would jump the Cats in the standings, meaning Kentucky would play on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
If Kentucky goes 0-2 = Chaos
I can’t even go there. Don’t make me go there, Kentucky.
Missouri hosts Arkansas Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Can I get a “GO TIGERS”?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 27th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
In the wake of last week’s Yahoo Sports report about the influence of agents in college basketball, everyone is offering up ideas on how to fix the sport; as usual, John Calipari’s suggestions are the most logical of all. Calipari proposed bringing in the NBA Players Association to manage relations between players and agents.
“I say that we need to work with the [NBA] Players Association who oversee the agents and figure out what do they think the solution is. I think baseball and hockey is a little different than what we deal with, but these kids deserve advisors because they’re moving through this process. But, the way it’s done now, it’s an issue.”
Calipari lobbied for the Players Association to extend loans instead of shoe companies or agents — the center of corruption — even if it means only the most talented players get them.
“I come back to, the Players Association should loan these kids money. Let them take a loan. Let their family get a loan from the Players Association. What’s the problem? For travel to games and the NCAA Tournaments, it’s out. Why? Well, the kid at this school can’t get it. Well, guess what? This isn’t communism. You can’t get a home loan. Guess what, you can’t get it? I don’t know what to tell you. I demand it because he got a home loan. I’m sorry, that’s not how it works in this country. Kids that have pro potential and want to take a loan so their families don’t have to deal with that, why can’t you?”
“I am in the homes of the kids that we’re talking about. They want their own dignity. They don’t want to be beholden to anybody. Think about your own family. Growing up, your parents, there’s pride in, even if there’s nothing here, this is still ours. These kids and their families, they want dignity and they want to do it themselves.”
As Calipari pointed out, that kind of reform won’t happen overnight, but some issues facing the sport are easy fixes, such as finally allowing players to make money off their own likeness.
“I’m counting on they’ll come to their senses. I think these kids should be able to use their likeness, make money from their signatures. It’s their name and likeness. It’s not ours. It’s theirs. They should be able to make money. Maybe the school manages it, maybe the money goes to their parents for travel, eliminates all the — maybe there’s a limit on what they can do, maybe they get it when they leave here. It’s all stuff that can be done easily.”
Of course, that’s way too much logic for an organization mired in dysfunction. Hopefully the time for change is really here.
“The problem with the NCAA, it’s slow moving,” Cal said. “This one doesn’t need to be slow moving.”
By Trey Huntsman on ©February 27th, 2018 @ 8:17pm
After trailing Western Kentucky for the majority of Tuesday’s game, Kentucky’s offense woke up with their backs against the wall. UK rallied to tie the game at three in the bottom of the ninth before Cam Hill came home on a passed ball to give the Cats a 4-3 walk-off win over the Toppers.
“I told Coach Guill in the seventh ‘I want a walk-off for these guys so bad’,” Mingione said. “You know what? You have to be able to experience it. We’re going to be in that situation again, we’re going to be down going into the ninth and we’re going to have to do something to get us a win and the fact that we’ve been there and we’ve done it is good.”
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) February 28, 2018
WKU led 3-0 after Ray Zuberer’s two-run bomb off Daniel Harper in the fifth inning. The Toppers were capitalizing in big situations while UK had stranded five runners in the first five innings. UK’s bats could not solve WKU starting pitcher Evan Acosta. The junior went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out three.
The UK bullpen bridged the gap between the sixth and ninth innings with four scoreless innings. After junior Zach Haake made his collegiate debut in the top of the ninth, UK’s offense needed three runs to tie the game against WKU closer Ben Morrison.
Morrison struck out Kole Cottam and got Ryan Johnson down 1-2 when Johnson delivered a line drive home run over the right-field wall. The solo home run woke up the dugout and the crowd at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Luke Heyer followed with an infield single to send a buzz throughout the park. After Ryan Shinn flew out, Trey Dawson ripped a double to left-center that gave UK runners at second and third for Troy Squires.
Squires shot an 0-2 pitch from Morrison back up the middle to score a pair of runs and tie the game at three. “We have a saying ‘hit it to the pitcher’s knees with two outs so that’s all I was trying to do,” Squires said.
WKU could never regain the momentum that carried them for eight innings. Ben Aklinski reached on a fielding error and both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Ryan Thurston. On the next pitch, Thurston threw a low breaking ball that catcher Colin Butkiewicz could not handle as it rolled to the backstop. Pinch runner Cam Hill read the ball well from third base and dashed home to score the clinching run in a 4-3 win for UK.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 28, 2018
“We’re going to finish every play, we’re going to finish every pitch, we’re going to finish every game,” Mingione said. The Cats were able to finish the first walk-off under Mingione with tonight’s 4-3 win over WKU.
Kentucky travels to Houston this weekend for the Shriners Classic at Minute Maid Park. All games will be available on Astros.com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 27th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
Don’t tell John Calipari his team’s turned the corner. Kentucky’s riding a three-game winning streak right now, but the memories of the four-game slide that preceded it are still very present in Calipari’s mind.
“If you think there’s no chance that we will revert, you’re crazy,” Calipari said. “You’re crazy. There’s a chance that we could revert. Let’s hope these guys learned a lesson and they didn’t like how that felt and they’re going to come out and play.”
Tomorrow night, the Cats will take on an Ole Miss team tied for last in the SEC with an interim head coach. That wasn’t enough for Calipari to rule out another face plant.
“We have a game coming up that it’s not the game, it’s us. (Mississippi) is good enough to beat us. They beat Missouri at Missouri. They had Tennessee – they lost by eight – and now they are coming here and a chance to play in Rupp. I know they are good enough to beat us. I’m worried about where are we. Have we learned or will we revert?”
Warnings and disclaimers aside, Calipari did admit that practice is much more pleasant these days.
“I’m not fighting guys everyday. I’m enjoying walking into practice. I can shorten practice now. They’re not fighting me. What do you want me to do? Every once in a while, a guy will revert and I’ll say, don’t do that. You’re playing too well. Don’t go back to where you were.”
The biggest change? Guys understand they must play together to win and they’re enjoying doing it, especially on defense.
“They want to win. The thing that they did not understand and hear is, if you don’t do this together you’re not going to have any fun. If you’re not going to do it together you cannot win against teams that are going to play like teams. Then when you’re losing it’s no fun. And then when you’re not enjoying playing with each other you’re really miserable.
“The biggest thing, too, on the flipside is this team now is beginning to enjoy defense. And if you enjoy defense and you’re playing together, you basically can’t wait for the next game to come up. I’m happy with their progress and what they’re doing.”
The difference in Kentucky’s play a month ago to now is nowhere more apparent than Calipari himself. He admitted as much.
“It tired me out this year. You see I’m getting my second wind. You watch me, I’m whistling and skipping in there now. But it’s not – I was dragging about three weeks ago.”
Jarred Vanderbilt is a game-changer for the Kentucky Wildcats.
In Kentucky’s last three wins, three of its best performances all season, Vanderbilt was a major factor inside for the Cats, which is why he earned his first SEC Freshman of the Week honor earlier today.
In those past three games, Vanderbilt has 33 points and 33 rebounds, an average of 11 and 11 in each of the wins. His best performance was in the victory over Missouri this past weekend when he grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and blocked a career-high three shots in a career-high 27 minutes of play.
The emergence of Vanderbilt has meant less playing time for Nick Richards, and even less for Sacha Killeya-Jones. With all due respect to those two big men, I don’t know if they’ve combined for 15 rebounds in many games, if any, which is why Vanderbilt is seeing more opportunities, despite being a little undersized and out of his natural position when he plays inside.
It seems crazy after where Vanderbilt was not so long ago, but he is rebounding at an insane rate with numbers we’ve never seen at Kentucky. He gets a rebound every 2.1 minutes he is in the game, a ratio that cannot be matched in the program’s history. No Wildcat rebounded at a better rate than Vanderbilt, going all the way back to when they began recording the stats in the early 1960s. Of all the greats we’ve seen over the years, he is rebounding harder than all of them.
Here’s another crazy stat for you: Vanderbilt’s offensive rebounding percentage is 23.1. That means he rebounds 23.1 percent of his team’s missed shots. So of every five missed Kentucky field goal attempts, Vanderbilt grabs at least one of them to keep the possession alive. Wanna go a little further? It’s the highest offensive rebounding percentage recorded in the Sports Reference database, which begins with the 2009-10 season. Not just the highest at Kentucky; the highest in all of college basketball, over nine years.
Vanderbilt’s play has earned him many comparisons to NBA great Dennis Rodman, who also dominated the glass against bigger competition. John Calipari even said so, too. After Kentucky’s recent win over Alabama to spark the three-game streak, Calipari told reporters, “I’ll tell you who I’ll compare him to: Dennis Rodman. That’s who he is. How about this, be Dennis Rodman. He did all right. He can guard every position. He rebounds offensively, defensively. He can pass. He’s skilled. Made his free throws.”
What’s equally exciting about Vanderbilt’s rebounding prowess is his ability to then turn and start the fast break. Instead of looking to get the ball into a guard’s hands, Vanderbilt can take it himself as soon as his feet hit the floor, and he has proven he may be the team’s best passer in open space. It makes for a nasty combination of skills and it will lead to many easy baskets off missed shots, especially when UK’s halfcourt offense is slacking and they’re trying to push the tempo. Not many teams have that kind of weapon.
With all that said, it’s pretty easy to realize what an important addition Vanderbilt has been to Kentucky, and the team is getting better as he is getting more acquainted and caught up with the game. If he can continue to do exactly what he’s done over the last three games, Kentucky may have just what it needs to scare some people in March. The team will of course need its other pieces to do their part, but what Vanderbilt brings to the table is so unique and so valuable, and he’s only getting better by the game. He’s a game-changer and hopefully a difference-maker in what the Cats will do in a couple of weeks.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 26th, 2018 @ 8:36pm
The Wildcats have officially picked up their second pledge of the class of 2019, as three-star linebacker K.D. McDaniel has committed to KENTUCKY!
He just announced his decision on Twitter:
I Would Like To Shut Down All My Recruiting And Say That I Am 100% Committed To Kentucky ??#BBNBABY #BlueColor19 #SecondHome ?????? @CoachMHouse @ChadSimmons_ @JEdwar247 @ashely_anders @Jason_Higdon pic.twitter.com/ZKlLL70Ymz
— 47K? (@mcdaniel_kd) February 27, 2018
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound outside linebacker chose the Wildcats over South Carolina, UCF, and USF, among others.
Rivals lists the newest Wildcat as the 63rd-best recruit from the state of Georgia in 2019, and he has the numbers to back that up. Just last season, McDaniel managed 104 tackles, 10 sacks for Tift County High School, a top-level program in the state.
Earlier today, McDaniel tweeted that he is “100%” and Kentucky is “where he wants to be,” adding that he will not be decommitting later on in the recruiting process.
— 47K? (@mcdaniel_kd) February 26, 2018
In an interview with Justin Rowland of Cats Illustrated, McDaniel said his trip to Lexington this past weekend was the deciding factor in his decision.
“The trip went so great,” McDaniel told Cats Illustrated. “I had built up a relationship with all the defensive coaches to where I have a trust with them. They told me how it was down there and then they showed me and told me how it’s going to be when I get there. I know that I can trust them. It seemed like I can trust them. They’re good coaches.
Watch the newest Wildcat work:
Welcome home, KD!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 26th, 2018 @ 8:15pm
When Hamidou Diallo found himself an open lane in transition for a breakaway slam against Missouri on Saturday, the emotion we saw immediately afterward was one of the most underrated components of Kentucky’s blowout victory.
Diallo had failed to cross the double-digit mark in points in 11 of Kentucky’s 16 games in conference play, and his confidence was down the drain.
The Kentucky shooting guard drilled a three-pointer less than four minutes into the game to knock some of that rust off, but his dunk in transition was the turning point in getting some of his confidence back.
He couldn’t help but let out a big ‘ole grin, almost in a “Hami is back” type of way.
You can see a closer look at the smile in this video:
From there, Diallo hit two more threes for a total of 11 points, and also managed to secure two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, and no turnovers. He didn’t dominate the stat sheet, but after weeks of trying to break out of his slump, it finally looked like the game was coming easier to him and he was having fun again.
“The team gave him a standing ovation when he came to the locker room,” John Calipari said on his radio show tonight.
And it was well-deserved.
Diallo played 16 minutes or less in four of Kentucky’s last five games, including a career-low ten minutes last Tuesday night against Arkansas. With constant missed shots and defensive struggles, he became virtually unplayable, and fans begged Calipari to keep him on the bench.
On Saturday, he slowed down and simplified the game, and it helped Kentucky play arguably their best game of the season.
“He had to worry about making easier plays and defending better,” said Calipari. “He didn’t make any excuses, he went in and went to work. I told him “If you keep trying to make Hollywood plays, showtime plays, you’re going to stay right where you are. If you stop, and make this game simpler, and just do simple stuff for a while till you build your confidence back, you will be fine.”‘
According to the Kentucky head coach, Diallo “hit rock bottom,” but he’s proud of how well he has managed to bounce back.
“He’s working at it, making easy plays, defending better than he’s ever defended. He has a spirit about him now. He looked defeated before. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you (climb back up.) I’m proud of him,” said Calipari.
But it isn’t just Diallo making strides to help the Cats right the ship. According to Calipari, it has been a collective effort from several different players to achieve one common goal.
“Individual players must improve for the team to improve. If your individual players aren’t getting better, there’s no way your team can get better. Shai is getting better, Quade’s getting better, Hami is getting better, Kevin Knox is getting better, PJ is getting better, and Jarred is getting better,” said Coach Cal.
While several key players are on an upswing, both Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones aren’t necessarily following the same positive trend. But according to Calipari, like he said with Diallo last week, you can’t give up on them because they’re going to come through right when you need them most.
“You can’t give up on these kids,” he said. “There is going to be a game where (Richards and Killeya-Jones) will step up and help us win a game.”
While most fans felt the sky was falling during Kentucky’s recent rough patch, Coach Cal remained calm and collected because he could see the team’s overall improvement. Now, his Wildcats are looking right on schedule with some of his past UK teams.
“The reason I wasn’t rattled (during the four-game losing streak) was because I could see improvement,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re over the hump. What I do know is that we’re getting better and I like what I’m seeing.”
A great deal of pressure is placed on linebackers within the 3-4 scheme. Mark Stoops has four proven starters, capable rotational players, and slew of newcomers that can be mixed and matched in several different positions. Thus, projecting the Kentucky two-deep linebacker rotation is virtually impossible prior to spring practice. We’ll do our best to paint a somewhat accurate picture.
Mike Linebacker Courtney Love
- 2017 Wuerffel Trophy Winner
- 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Member
- Lott IMPACT Trophy Quarterfinalist
- 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award Nominee
- Played in 26 games, started 26 games, named team captain on 25 career occasions. Respect.
- Love’s 92 tackles in 2017 ranked second on the team. Registered 76 tackles a year ago.
- Recorded 10 tackles and a fumble recovery in a win over Missouri.
- Respect, again
Will Linebacker Eli Brown (Transfer)
- 2017 statistics: 38 tackles, 2 tackles for loss.
- Had 6 tackles including a tackle for loss vs. Eastern Michigan.
- Also recorded 6 tackles including a tackle for loss in a critical road win at South Carolina. Brown played his guts out that night.
- Started 5 games for injured Jordan Jones.
Jordan Bonner (Chose not to return for a senior season)
- Accounted for 4 tackles in 2017.
Sam Linebacker Josh Allen 6’5, 252 Senior
- Sports Illustrated Mid-Season All American
- AP Mid-Season All-American
- AP All -SEC
- Phil Steele Third Team All-SEC
- Butkus Award Semifinalist
- 2017 statistics: 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 7 quarterback sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, 4 quarterback hurries, and 2 forced fumbles.
- Career: 19.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 quarterback sacks.
- Chose to not enter the NFL Draft. Returned to Kentucky for his senior season.
- Will push to break Oliver Barnett’s career quarterback sack record of 26.
- Future pro. Predicted to be on several Award Watch Lists as well as potentially being listed on preseason All-American teams.
Mike Linebacker Kash Daniel 6’1, 242 Junior
- Has 26 career tackles, mostly on special teams.
- Registered 2 tackles in 2017 win over South Carolina.
- A high school quarterback, Daniel rushed for 6 yards on a fake punt on a crucial 4th down in a win over Missouri.
- Backed up Courtney Love for two consecutive seasons. Played as a true freshman in 2016.
- Excelled on special teams.
- Preferred mentality and strength for a Mike LB.
Will Linebacker Jordan Jones 6’2, 218 Senior
- Bednarik Award Watch List
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List
- Missed four games due to injury.
- Led the team with 13 tackles in a win over Tennessee. Earned Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
- 2017 statistics: 64 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback sacks, 1 pass breakup, 3 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble.
- 2016 Season:
- One of the top linebackers in the nation. Registered 109 tackles.
- Athlons Sports Preseason First Team All-SEC, Third Team All-American.
- Led the SEC with 5.7 solo tackles per game. First on the team with 9 quarterback hurries. Ranked 6th in the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss.
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Denzil Ware 6’2, 240 Senior
- Phil Steele Third Team All-SEC
- Named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week in a win over Vanderbilt.
- Recorded 9 tackles, 1 quarterback sack, and 2 tackles for loss in a win over Tennessee.
- Named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week in the season opening victory at Southern Miss: 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.
- 2017 Statistics: 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6.5 quarterback sacks, 1 interception, 2 quarterback hurries, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles, 1 pass breakup.
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Josh Paschal 6’3, 278 Sophomore
- Athlons Sports Freshman All-SEC.
- Played and did so extremely well as a true freshman in 2017.
- Accounted for 3 tackles and a sack in wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
- Named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for a blocked punt vs. Eastern Michigan.
- 2017 statistics: 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 quarterback sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 1 blocked punt.
Depth at linebacker is noteworthy and will be tested in 2017 with the unexpected departure of Will LB Eli Brown. This is also the point of this post that becomes somewhat cloudy. The next group of players have yet to solidify within a specific position group. We’ll list the following linebackers into five categories: Push for Starting Positions, Rotational Players, Rookies, Walk-ons, and one Wildcard.
Push for Starting Positions
Jamar “Boogie” Watson 6’3, 234 Sophomore
- 2017 statistics: 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup.
- Registered a quarterback sack vs. Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
- Can play every position within the linebacker group. Played both inside and on the edge in 2017.
- Exact position will be determined in spring practice and based off need in 2018.
Jamin Davis 6’4, 224 Redshirt Freshman
- 2017 statistics: Redshirted
- Filled in for Jordan Jones in spring game and made the most out of the opportunity. Totaled team-high 8 tackles and a tackle for loss.
- Added 12 lbs. during redshirt season.
- True inside linebacker. Will factor in 2018. To what extent will be determined after spring practice.
Jaylin Bannerman 6’5, 238 Sophomore
- Moved back to defense after spending a portion of 2017 as a tight end.
- 2016: Redshirted.
- Projects as an Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
Alex King 6’3, 236 Redshirt Freshman
- Sleeper of the group. Coaches praised his work on the scout team as a redshirt.
- Was one of the Midwest’s most dynamic pass rushers coming out of William Mason High School.
- Projects to one of the edge positions but could be similar to Boogie Watson and play multiple roles. Potential pass-rush specialist.
Jordan Wright 6’5, 236 Redshirt Freshman
- Will contribute in 2018. Elite athlete.
- Was listed at 270 pounds a year ago. Updated roster shows him weighing 236.
- Edge defender. Coaches were extremely happy with Wright’s effort and development during his redshirt season.
Chris Oats 6’5, 220 Freshman
- Four-star prospect. Division II Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Ohio.
- Vince Marrow outdueled Ohio State for his services.
- Was extremely high if not the top player on UK’s big board.
- Played multiple positions in high school. Can play inside and on the edge in college.
- Was not early enrollee. Will not factor in spring practice.
Ashtan Pierre 6’2, 200 Freshman
- Athletic defender. Played multiple positions at Deerfield Beach High School.
- Projects to the edge. Elite athlete.
- Was not an early enrollee. Will not factor in spring practice.
Deandre Square 6’1, 205 Freshman
- Rated as a 4-star player out of national powerhouse Cass Tech High School. Top 20 LB in the Class of 2018.
- Early enrollee, will factor in spring practice. Excited to watch Square’s development.
- Gets a headstart on fellow freshman. Will gauge his ability to immediately contribute during spring practice.
Chris Whittaker 6’3, 227 Freshman
- Listed as a defensive lineman.
- Initial weight was 260 lbs., now 237 on updated roster.
- Could potentially slot at OLB/DE position with those measurables.
- Position will be identified in spring practice. Could be slated as a pass-rush specialist.
Elijah Barnett 6’3, 238 Junior
- Legacy Cat. Son of UK career quarterback sack leader Oliver Barnett.
- From Lexington. Played at Henry Clay High School.
Drew Schlegel 5’11, 218 Sophomore
- Legacy Wildcat. Son of former UK tackle and team captain Mike Schlegel.
- Recorded over 100 tackles as a high school senior.
William Nalty 6’0, 228 Sophomore
- Chose UK over North Carolina.
What does all this mean?
Kash Daniel looks to break into the lineup that is comprised of three All-SEC returning starters and an accomplished former true freshman. Depth and talent are present. Wildcat linebackers should and needs to be the strength of the team in 2018. Kentucky has traditionally been known for developing linebackers. 2018 could be one of the program’s most talented collections with future professionals littering the depth chart.
If the SEC Tournament started today, Kentucky would be the four-seed playing in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. The Cats would face the winner of Mississippi State vs. South Carolina/Ole Miss, setting up a potential semifinal rematch with Auburn.
Here are the current standings, factoring in tiebreakers:
|1||Auburn||12-4||at Arkansas, South Carolina|
|2||Tennessee||11-5||at Miss. State, Georgia|
|3||^ Florida||9-7||at Alabama, Kentucky|
|4||^ Kentucky||9-7||Ole Miss, at Florida|
|5||^ Mississippi State||9-7||Tennessee, at LSU|
|6||^ Arkansas||9-7||Auburn, at Missouri|
|7||$ Missouri||8-8||at Vanderbilt, Arkansas|
|8||$ Alabama||8-8||Florida, at Texas A&M|
|9||% Georgia||7-9||Texas A&M, at Tennessee|
|10||% LSU||7-9||at South Carolina, Miss. State|
|11||% Texas A&M||7-9||at Georgia, Alabama|
|12||South Carolina||6-10||LSU, at Auburn|
|13||# Ole Miss||5-11||at Kentucky, Vanderbilt|
|14||# Vanderbilt||5-11||Missouri, at Ole Miss|
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just fine with this draw. In fact, with Auburn and Tennessee essentially locked in as the one and two-seeds, I’d much rather Kentucky be the four-seed than the three to avoid the Vols.
In the first Kentucky football recruiting showcase of the 2019 recruiting season, Mark Stoops opened his doors to more than 120 prospects from more than a dozen states.
Unlike previous Junior Days, the invitation-only event was not dominated by recruits from Ohio. Of course there were a few big names from the Buckeye state, but there were just as many hailing from Michigan, Missouri and Louisiana.
The biggest name from Steve Clinkscale’s Michigan territory was Michael Fletcher. The No. 10 player in the state is one of the 25 best defensive ends in the country. After the visit he Tweeted: “Had a great time at Kentucky! Will definitely be back.”
From the uncharted lands of Missouri, 6’3″ wide receiver C.J. Boone spent his day at UK enjoying time with Paul Tyson, the grandson of Bear Bryant who is one of the ten best pocket-passers in the nation. Tyson wasn’t the only quarterback on campus.
— C J A Y B O O N E?. (@Cjay5k) February 24, 2018
You can see more here.
A New QB Scholarship Offer
If there’s one position you need to lock up early, it’s quarterback. Darin Hinshaw and Eddie Gran did their part by inviting four quarterbacks to campus.
Kentucky has been Tyson’s radar probably longer than any other school. The same could be said for Hayden Wolff. A big man (6’5″) with a big arm, the Cats are the early favorites for Wolff. Those two arrived in Lexington with UK scholarship offers. Dual-threat quarterback Nik Scalzo left Lexington with an offer from Eddie Gran.
“After having a great visit with Coach Stoops, Gran, and Hinshaw, I am honored to say that I have received an offer from THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY,” Scalzo Tweeted.
He’s only 6-feet tall, but he’s caught the eyes of many schools in the camp circuits. Illinois and a slew of Ivy League schools have also extended offers to the seventeenth-ranked dual-threat passer in 2019.
The other quarterback on campus is also considered a dual-threat. Travis Mumphrey from Marrero, Louisiana brought a couple of teammates with him to Lexington, but did not leave with an offer.
Cats Offer Louisville Commit
Demontae Crumes committed to Louisville last week. Yesterday Kentucky coaches extended him a scholarship offer in Lexington.
A Louisville native from Butler High School, I can confirm that Crumes can catch passes. In fact, the time I watched Crumes from the stands, his efforts in the end zone almost single-handedly carried Butler to a victory. The 6’1″ wide out plays bigger than his size and was good enough to lead Butler to one of their best seasons in a decade.
Kentucky has a long time to convince Crumes to leave his hometown. It doesn’t hurt that he grew up cheering for Kentucky.
An Important Legacy Recruit
Arguably the biggest name on Kentucky’s campus this weekend was a familiar one. Mo Douglass was a safety at UK from 1984-1986. Yesterday he brought his daughter and son to Lexington.
Moses Douglass is a four-star safety that is considered one of the best 300 players in America. He holds offers from more than 20 schools, including most of the Big 10 conference. Coached by his father, the elder Douglass has sent some of his former players, like defensive tackle Kordell Looney, to Kentucky. Can Stoops and Marrow convince him to send his son to school down I-75 South?
Not All Juniors
Even though it’s called Junior Day, UK’s coaching staff still invites underclassmen.
The biggest of the bunch was Paris Johnson Jr. The 6’7″ 275-pound offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. X is the No. 113 player in his class according to 247. Before he completed his visit, Johnson Jr. Tweeted, “Amazing visit! Blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with Coach Marrow, Coach Schlarman, Coach Gran and Coach Stoops!”
Johnson Jr. received a scholarship prior to his visit. Kentucky waited until John Young got to campus to extend a scholarship offer. A 6’8″ 280-pound offensive lineman from Christian Academy of Louisville, Rex Chapman and Steve Romines were ecstatic when they heard the news.
Kentucky didn’t exclusively invite big underclassmen. Four-star North Carolina wide receiver Mike Wyman picked up an offer before he left Lexington.
Tweet of the Weekend
The football recruiting Twitter world was filled with tons of pictures from the uniformed photoshoots. Many were bypassed, but this caption from four-star Michigan wide receiver Rashawn Williams was an exception.
— Rashawn Williams (@troule19) February 25, 2018