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Vince Marrow is Feeling Good as the Recruiting Season Hits the Homestretch

Five weeks from today the first college football early signing period will begin.  On the heels of a decommitment from a four-star All-American quarterback, you might think that Vince Marrow is flustered entering the final stretch of the recruiting season.  That’s not the case.

Kentucky’s recruiting coordinator has the country’s No. 25 class, a team with a 7-3 record and is not missing a beat from one late defection.

“We found Stephen Johnson when we had a guy flip last time.  If we can do that, I will take that any day.  That’s for the record.  I want everybody to know that,” Marrow said. “He’s going to go down as one of the winningest quarterbacks here.”

All is fair in love, war and recruiting.  Marrow has already moved on to the next one.

“It’s a thing where it happened, we wish kids well, we wish their families well, but we’re right back on two, three, four, five more quarterbacks so it’s no big deal.”

One of those quarterbacks is Junior College quarterback Terry Wilson.  The former Oregon Duck received a scholarship offer yesterday, shortly after Kentucky commenced communication.  Things move fast for JUCO prospects.

“Coaches want you to play right away,” former JUCO quarterback Stephen Johnson said yesterday.  “I think I got to school Tuesday when it started.  I was on my recruiting trip Friday and Saturday.  As soon as I got back home, I packed my bags and came right back here.”

Things will move fast in the final five weeks before signing day.  When asked how much busier he is with the shortened recruiting season, Marrow chuckled.  Even though it’s a heavier workload, he likes the new December period.

“We work 24/7 anyway, but now you can get a kid to sign in December instead of fighting that whole battle in February.  In the past when we were first starting out, we had some kids that we identified — not just us, other schools — and other schools will come in January or late, close to February and pick them kids up.  So signing in December I think is a good thing for a lot of people.  I know a lot of coaches are for it.”

Marrow believes Kentucky will lock up most of the class in December, then give the coaches freedom to find a late surprise for the traditional NSD on the first Wednesday of February.

“Most kids want to make a pledge and go to the school they’re going to.  It’s just that if you take it all the way February, you’ve got people, something may happen and people can mess with them a little bit.  But I think in December, most kids know where they want to go.  You figure, you’re going to be signing somewhere in two months after that.

“I think in December you’ll see about 90 percent of the class sign the papers then.  And then it tells us, if they don’t sign, they must not be that serious with us. And then we’ll go out and recruit somebody else.”

This class has a few things that no other Mark Stoops class had.  There are two players from the state of Michigan, including the state’s No. 1 prospect Marquan McCall.  There are seven recruits from Ohio, but thanks to Eddie Gran, the 2018 class will have six recruits from the state of Florida.

“I think people are starting to see our brand and our logo more strong in the South, but you still gotta keep working.  You gotta keep grinding down there.  Up North we’ve been pretty good from day one.  As we keep winning and beating them South schools in the SEC, they see that Kentucky is a good place to come to.”

Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow are expanding Kentucky’s recruiting territory in 2018.  They plan on expanding the following list before National Signing Day on December 20.

Kentucky Football 2018 Recruiting Class

NamePositionHometownHeightWeight 247 Composite
Marquan McCallOGOak Park, Mi.6-43204-star
Darian KinnardOTCleveland, Oh.6-73364-star
Xavier PetersOLBWest Chester, Oh.6-42254-star
Terry WilsonQBOmaha, Ne.6-21803-star
DeAndre SquareS/OLBDetroit, Mi.6-12003-star
Brenden BatesTECincinnati, Oh.6-52303-star
Stanley GarnerCBFt. Lauderdale, Fl.6-31803-star
Meechi HarrisWRXenia, Oh.6-21883-star
Quintin WilsonCCincinnati, Oh. 6-32903-star
Marvin AlexanderWRHollywood, Fl.6-31753-star
Jamari BrownCBPompano Beach, Fl.6-31803-star
Davoan HawkinsDEHollywood, Fl.6-42703-star
Akeem HayesATH/WRHollywood, Fl.5-101753-star
Keaton UpshawTELima, Oh.6-72253-star
Christopher RodriguezRBMcDonough, Ga.5-112003-star
Ashton PierreATHDeerfield Beach, Fl.6-21913-star
Domonique WilliamsJUCO CBKnoxville, Tn.5-101903-star
Chance PooreKAnderson, Sc.6-32003-star
Max DuffyPWestern Australia6-11763-star
Kenneth HorseyOTSeminole, Fl. 6-43253-star
Jerquavion “Qua” Mahone DTManchester, Ga.6-4195N/A

Maria Taylor sets the record straight about Calipari’s arm grab

Maria Taylor sets the record straight about Calipari’s arm grab

ESPN’s Maria Taylor wants to set the record straight: John Calipari grabbing her arm during last night’s halftime interview was no big deal, and if you’re going to write a story about it, use her name.

In case you missed it, Calipari grabbed Taylor’s arm while ranting about his team’s rebounding but quickly let go once he realized his grip, telling Taylor, “Do I have your arm really tight?” to which she responded, “It’s really tight. I’m not your player!”:

Predictably, the media ran with it, posting the clip online with suggestive headlines:

I wasn’t even going to mention the moment today until Taylor posted an awesome video clapping back at the media on Twitter.

“I see that this whole Coach Cal grabbing my arm thing is taking off on the internet, but I just wanted to address it and say I’ve known him since 2012. I love interviewing him. I love his passion for the game. I love the way he coaches his teams and I was not offended at all by him grabbing my arm. It was not an awkward moment. We laughed about it and went on with our business. So, I hope you can too.

But if you can’t, and you’re writing about this story, I am not the ‘ESPN reporter.’ My name is Maria Taylor. Let’s go ahead and get this straight.”

That’s why Maria Taylor is the best. You go, girl.


Georgia Scouting Report Part I

Georgia Scouting Report Part I

Pic by Chattanooga Times Free Press

Georgia had won its way to being ranked as the nation’s number one team with a 9-0 record. The Dawgs then traveled to the Plains to take on its traditional West rival, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn utilized an intense rushing attack behind a physical offensive line and an overwhelming front-seven to pound UGA 40-17. Last Saturday’s loss moved the Bulldogs down to the number seven position.

Head coach Kirby Smart is a Nick Saban disciple and possesses a roster littered with professional talent. Georgia has recruited extremely well for decades and stockpiles talent. A lack of quality depth is rarely a deficiency in Athens. Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as well as outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter stayed in school and postponed NFL aspirations with hopes for a special season. Georgia will represent the East in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Let’s take a look at the Dawgs:

Schedule

Appalachian State W 31-10
@Notre Dame W 20-19
Samford W 42-14
*Mississippi State W 31-3
*@Tennessee W 41-0
*@Vanderbilt W 45-14
*Missouri W 53-28
*^Florida W 42-7
*South Carolina W 24-10
@Auburn L 17-40

*Common Opponent

^Jacksonville, Florida

Last Game – Kroger Field 2016: Georgia 27, Kentucky 24

With 2:42 remaining on the clock, freshman quarterback Jacob Eason led a fourth quarter drive that was topped off by Rodrigo Blankenship nailing a game-winning 25-yard field goal as time expired.

OFFENSE

— Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney operates a pro-style system that heavily relies upon the ground game. Georgia has attempted 463 rushing attempts compared to 191 passes.

— Chaney attempted to play at a faster tempo vs. Auburn. This strategy worked on its first drive, but the Tigers overpowering front-seven negated various adjustments and schematic strategies.

— Tendencies for this game are fairly simple. The quarterback will line up under center and in the pistol. Then, run the football. Motions and formations/personnel groupings are merely attempts at eye violations. Georgia is one of the few teams in the SEC that utilizes a fullback.

— Auburn exposed an offensive line vulnerability on the right side of the line-of-scrimmage. Starting right guard Solomon Kindley and right tackle Andrew Thomas are both freshmen. The Tigers experienced significant pass rush and run stop success on that particular side of the line. I can’t stress this enough, these two OL are not a weakness, merely the most inexperienced portion of a solid offensive line that is led by left tackle Isaiah Wynn.

— Auburn held Georgia to 46 rush and 230 total yards.

— UGA runs the football 70% of all snaps, 30% passing. It averages 5.5 yards per carry and 256-yards per game.

— RB Nick Chubb is a historical and generational running back. The senior has rushed for 4,318-yards and scored 38 touchdowns. Chubb is the 4th leading rusher in SEC history and is the Dawg’s 2nd rated runner only behind the legendary Herschel Walker.

— Fellow senior RB Sony Michel is averaging 81.2 yards per game and has improved his technique to become one of the nation’s best one-cut runners. He’s rushed for 3,142-career yards and scored 26 touchdowns.

— While only passing on 30% of all downs, Bulldog quarterbacks average 14.9 yards per completion.

— Georgia receivers are skilled and excel in yards after catch. WR Javon Wims is the Dawgs’ big-play receiver and is often targeted in back-shoulder fades. Expect frequent crossing routes when WR’s are aligned close to the tackle box.

— True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm took over for an injured Jacob Eason and has been extremely steady. Possessing a stable full of elite running backs have eased Fromm’s transition to college football. He’s completing 60% of his passes and thrown for 16 touchdowns. The freshman is at his best in the play action game.

— Tight end Isaac Nauta wowed as a true freshman a year ago but has only registered 7 receptions in 2017. Fellow TE Jeb Blazevich has caught 2 passes. UGA TE’s low number of catches goes against trend. Normally inexperienced quarterbacks frequent TE’s.

— Georgia’s offensive intent is simple. Run the football. It leads the nation in Red-Zone offense by scoring on 37/38 trips including 27 touchdowns. UGA 32:44 average time of possession ranks 2nd in the SEC. Continuing, it also ranks 1st in the league by converting 48% on 3rd down. All this screams of an elite rushing attack. That adequately describes the Georgia Bulldogs.

Projected Starters

Receiver 5 Terry Goodwin 5’11, 185 Jr.
Left Tackle 77 Isaiah Wynn 6’2, 302 Sr.
Left Guard 65 Kendall Baker 6’6, 287 Jr.
Center 53 Lamont Gaillard 6’2, 301 Jr.
Right Guard 66 Solomon Kindley 6’4, 335 Fr.
Right Tackle 71 Andrew Thomas 6’5, 320 Fr.
Tight End 83 Jeb Blazevich 6’5, 245 Sr.
Running Back 27 Nick Chubb 5’11, 225 Sr.
Fullback 47 Christian Payne 6’1, 242 Sr.
Receiver 6 Javon Wims 6’4, 215 Sr.
Reciever 8 Riley Ridley 6’2, 200 Sr.

2017 Statistical Results

Scoring 34.6 points per game SEC-4th
Rushing 256 ypg SEC-2nd
Passing 166.1 SEC-13th
Total 424.1 SEC-5th
3rd Down 48.18% SEC-1st
Red-Zone 97.37% (27 TD) SEC-1st

Top Performers

Passing Jake Fromm 108/178, 60.7%, 1643-yds, 16 TD’s, 4 INT
Rushing Nick Chubb 151 carries, 894-yds, 10 TD’s, 89.4 ypg
Receiving Terry Godwin 23 catches, 476-yards, 5 TD’s

Pic by Chattanooga Times Free Press

DEFENSE

 — Georgia allows just 14.5 points and 103 rush yards per game.

— The strength of its defense lies within one of the best linebacker corps in college football. Its led by mid-season All American Roquan Smith and future 1st round pick OLB Lorenzo Carter. Davin Bellamy and Natrez Patrick complete the group that can be downright dominant.

— UGA linebackers are active. Much like Kentucky, Georgia can transform from a 3 to a 4-man front by dropping a linebacker down as an additional defensive end. Normally Davin Bellamy takes on a similar role as UK’s Denzil Ware. Josh Allen and Lorenzo Carter are also similar players.

— Surprisingly the Dawgs have not accumulated a high number of QB sacks. Its totaled 19 on the season compared to Kentucky’s 27.

— Defensive line is explosive. No sugar coating recent results; uncharacteristically DT Trenton Thompson, NT’s John Atkins/Julian Rochester, and DE Jonathan Ledbetter were dominated by the Auburn offensive line a week ago. War Eagle rushed for 237 and rolled up 488 total yards. I’m positive this is being addressed in practice leading up to the Kentucky game.

Projected Starters

Defensive Tackle 78 Trenton Thompson 6’4, 295 Jr.
Nose Tackle 97 John Atkins 6’4, 305 Sr.
Defensive End Jonathan Ledbetter 6’4, 277 Jr.
Sam Linebacker 7 Lorenzo Carter 6’6, 243 Sr.
Jack Linebacker 17 Davin Bellamy 6’5, 245 Sr.
Mike Linebacker 6 Natrez Patrick 6’3, 234 Jr.
Will Linebacker 3 Roquan Smith 6’1, 225 Jr.
Cornerback 14 Malkom Parrish 5’10, 190 Sr.
Cornerback 18 Deandre Baker 5’11, 180 So.
Safety 24 Dominick Sanders 6’0, 200 Sr.
Safety 20 JR Reed 6’1, 194 So.

Top Performers

Tackles MLB Roquan Smith 82 total
QB Sacks OLB Lorenzo Carter 4
Tackles for Loss Lorenzo Carter 6.5
Interceptions S Domonick Sanders 3

2017 Statistical Results

Scoring 14.5 points per game SEC-2nd
Rushing 103.8 ypg SEC-2nd
Passing 174.7 SEC-4th
Total 277.5 SEC-2nd
QB Sacks 19 SEC-12th
Tackles for Los 61 SEC-6th

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship 12/14, SEC-3rd
Punter Cameron Nizialek 44.37 per, SEC-5th
Kick Return Mecole Hardman 26.67, SEC-1st
Punt Return Mecole Hardman 15.3 per, SEC-3rd

Georgia special teams are excellent. Hardman is dangerous in the return game and Blankenship beat the Cats with a game winner in 2016. Kentucky coverage teams will be under the microscope on Saturday.

What does all this mean?

Be ready for a gaggle of anti-Kentucky sarcastic giggles from the SEC Network crew that will be in Athens for its pregame show. Very few, if any, outside the Kentucky locker room believes the Cats can compete with Georgia. Auburn revealed rare flaws in the Dawgs, but it will take a season-best performance for Mark Stoops and team to move to 8-3.

For a more in-depth scouting report tune into Thursday’s Depth Chart Podcast. These discussions will detail Georgia schemes, tendencies, and preferred methods of attack.


Notes And Observations From An Ugly Kentucky-Kansas game

Notes And Observations From An Ugly Kentucky-Kansas game

Of all the marquee basketball games we’ve seen, that was one of them.

The Champions Classic’s nightcap pitted the No. 4 and No. 7 teams in college basketball against each other, but neither side played like a ranked team. One can chalk it up to youth and inexperience; the other is Kansas, and I think they’re still jacking up contested jumpers in the United Center parking lot.

Unfortunately for the Big Blue Nation, John Calipari’s young Wildcats were on the losing side in the end, 65-61; but the way they fought and hung in there down the stretch is a major positive takeaway going forward. They have several things to learn and improve on after only three college basketball games in their careers, and they were still in the hunt until the final buzzer against a veteran team. We’ll take that, right?

More postgame thoughts from Chicago…

The Kansas guards were not good.

Devonte Graham, a National Player of the Year candidate (allegedly), was 3-for-14 from the field with five turnovers. Coming into this one, he was projected to be the best player on the court. Instead, we watched him jack up some of the worst shot attempts one could take, and only hit his mark three times in the entire game. Now some of that can be attributed to UK’s defense, but most of the time he was just throwing up bricks to throw up bricks. It was a rough night for one of college basketball’s top players (allegedly).

Joining Graham in the awful game discussion is Malik Newman, who went 4-for-14 from the field. Yes, you can commend him for the big three-pointer late, but Kentucky was in the game because he drove into the lane with his head down all night, only to watch his shots get swatted. Newman couldn’t take enough bad shots; unfortunately, he hit one wide open three-pointer in the end that proved to be the biggest shot of the game. You live with that one after all the garbage he threw up before that moment.

Kansas’ third “star” guard, LaGerald Vick, wasn’t much better than his friends. He went 4-for-13 from the field, which makes them 11-for-41 as a group. They’re Bill Self’s three offensive weapons and they could not score from the field (4-for-16 from outside, too). If they had done anything close to what they’re capable of, Kansas runs away with this one. But their offensive struggles made it a ball game, and to me, that’s your story.

Kevin Knox is Kentucky’s only offense. 

As bad as the Kansas offense was, Kentucky’s wasn’t much better. It was pretty much the Kevin Knox show when the Cats needed a bucket as he led the team with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. It’s pretty clear he’s going to need some major help, but for the immediate future it’s mostly going to fall on his shoulders when Hamidou Diallo isn’t playing well. That was the case tonight, and Knox had a great game outside of the forced shot attempt in the final seconds with his team down two.

Nick Richards and P.J. Washington have to do better.

Richards and Washington may want to forget this one. Together they combined for seven of Kentucky’s 18 turnovers and only four points.

Richards did grab nine rebounds, but he was a liability offensively. Washington had some key blocks, but he wasn’t much help anywhere else.

Sacha Killeya-Jones showed some promise, and that’s exciting.

We’ve long wondered when Killeya-Jones will have his breakout moment, and it might’ve been in this one. Kentucky’s sophomore big man had eight points and nine rebounds in only 23 minutes of action, and he showed off a jump shot that put some much-needed points on the board when UK’s offense was non-existent. If he can continue to hit that shot consistently, he’ll have to see more of the floor. The same goes for his rebounding, which he also did well.

As good as Knox was, Killeya-Jones may be the brightest takeaway for Kentucky.

Kansas only had six players.

The Jayhawks were gassed in the end (especially the big fella), and they have Billy Preston to thank for that. In case you missed it, Bill Self benched his star freshman right before tip-off due to an investigation into the financing of a car he wrecked over the weekend. It sounds like some serious trouble, and it didn’t hurt Kentucky’s chances that he sat in street clothes on the sideline.

Kentucky is still kind of a mess right now, but they’re fighters.

The offense is so disorganized and often lost. There were way too many inexcusable turnovers. The defense gives up too many good looks. It was far from a good, clean game.

That being said, it’s to be expected from a team of kids who are only five days into their college careers. Those things will work themselves out in time. The one thing you can’t really teach at this point in the season is playing hard and not giving up, and that’s exactly what they did in a game in which they weren’t playing sound basketball. Close games like this will go a long way in their overall development, and those sloppy miscues and disorganization will be fixed with each passing game. Kentucky isn’t a great basketball team right now, but they sure do have the pieces to be one on down the road.

To quote John Calipari, I like my team.

Good night from Chicago.


Tyler Herro discuss his commitment, Zion Williamson on “Hey Kentucky!”

Tyler Herro discuss his commitment, Zion Williamson on “Hey Kentucky!”

Earlier today, Tyler Herro committed to Kentucky, and before that, he taped an interview with Matt for “Hey Kentucky!”. Herro goes in-depth on his decision to pick Kentucky, his impressions of Lexington, and how he’s already working with fellow signees Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson to reel in Zion Williamson.

“We’re going to go after Zion pretty hard,” Herro said. “Hopefully we can get him.”

If Kentucky does land Zion, what will the 2018 recruiting class look like?

“I think it can be crazy. With Immanuel being a good point guard, Keldon being able to attack the rim, me being able to shoot and dribble, score off the bounce, and Zion obviously doing what Zion does. Especially if we get another big in there like Bol Bol or Moses Brown, that class is, in my opinion, one of the best classes in the country.”

Get to know the newest member of Kentucky’s 2018 class below as we count down the minutes to tipoff:

Watch the full episode at HeyKentucky.com.


Tyler Herro signs with KENTUCKY

Tyler Herro signs with KENTUCKY

After a whirlwind courtship, Tyler Herro just became the third member of Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class. In a ceremony at his school, the four-star shooting guard picked the Cats over Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Villanova, signing his letter of intent on the spot.

After an impressive showing at a USA Basketball minicamp in early October, Herro decommited from home state Wisconsin on October 17. Nine days later, Kenny Payne reached out and on October 31, John Calipari offered him a scholarship. This past weekend, Herro took an official visit to Kentucky and, apparently, saw everything he needed to make it official. For a player who strives to be the next Devin Booker, it was the perfect storm.

Herro joins Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson in Kentucky’s 2018 class. He’s ranked the fourth best shooting guard and the 27th overall player in the class by ESPN, but his stock rose after an impressive showing at a USA Basketball minicamp in early October, where he played alongside Quickley, Johnson, Zion Williamson, Bol Bol, and other UK targets.

“Herro is a crafty dependable scorer who loves to run in transition and create in the half court set,” ESPN’s scouting report reads. “His ability to score at all three levels makes him a tough cover. Herro loves to catch and shoot, than hit you with a ball fake for a mid range pull up or floater. Herro loves to score in bunches and has good offensive instincts to score in a variety of ways.”

Welcome to the fam, Tyler. We apologize in advance for the Herro/hero puns.

Tyler Herro
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 195 lbs.
Greenfield, WI | Whitnall H.S.
Class of 2018
★★★★
ESPN No. 27 | 4 SG Top247 No. 40 | 6 SG
Rivals No. 38 | 7 SG Scout No. 38 | 5 SG


Get To Know Tyler Herro, Calipari’s New Target Next Commitment?

Get To Know Tyler Herro, Calipari’s New Target Next Commitment?

[Editor’s Note: This post originally ran on November 1, but with Tyler Herro’s announcement coming up at 4:30 PM ET, we’re bumping it back up to the top.]

There is a new name on John Calipari’s basketball recruiting board and it is Tyler Herro, a four-star shooting guard from the Class of 2018.

Calipari paid his first visit to Herro in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and during said visit, offered him a scholarship to the University of Kentucky after watching him work out. There is some talk that Herro could soon accept the scholarship, so we better go ahead and get to know him.

 

Tyler Herro
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 195 lbs.
Greenfield, WI | Whitnall H.S.
Class of 2018
★★★★
ESPN No. 27 | 4 SG Top247 No. 40 | 6 SG
Rivals No. 38 | 7 SG Scout No. 38 | 5 SG

 

His last name is pronounced like “hero.”

Not “harrow,” like Ryan Harrow, thank God; or “her-ro,” like “if there is a hot girl in your class, sit in her row.”

It is “hero,” like the Enrique Inglesias song. Just wanted to clear that up before we proceed.

He was once committed to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is a bad word in Kentucky, but we have no problem taking one of the state’s top high school prospects, especially if he was once committed to the Badgers. Herro originally committed to his home state school in September of 2016, his junior year of high school, but has since parted ways with the program and reopened his recruitment.

“After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options,” Herro said on Twitter. “The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.”

He averaged 23.9 points per game and shot 39 percent from three-point range as a junior.

This past summer, Herro averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on the Nike EYBL circuit, while playing for Playground Elite.

Watch him hit a game-winner for his team:

Kentucky is among the teams recruiting him the hardest.

Herro also named Oregon, Kansas, Butler, Villanova and Arizona as programs that have really sought him out since he became available again.

“Kentucky keeps it real,” he says.

In Evan Daniels’ new story after Tuesday’s visit, Herro told him, “Meeting with Coach Cal and Coach Payne was good. They keep it real. They told me Kentucky is a different beast and if I want to make it then Kentucky is the spot. I’m still looking at all my options but it feels good.”

Frank Kaminsky called him “soft.”

The former Wisconsin Badger was a little salty when Herro announced his decommitment:

You mad, Frank?

He wants to be like Devin Booker.

On Monday he wished Booker a happy birthday on Twitter. #MCM

He once called Arizona his “dream school.”

In a video explaining why he chose Wisconsin, Herro noted that Arizona was his dream school, but he went ahead and took the Wisconsin offer. He had other offers from Florida, Indiana, Marquette, Purdue, Iowa State, Xavier and Creighton when he made that decision.

He’s considered a three-point shooter, but he’s actually more than that.

ESPN said, “Herro can flat out score the basketball and is wired to score in a variety of ways. Herro’s catch/shoot and dribble drive pull up makes him a tough cover on any close out situations.”

His last 13 Crystal Ball picks are for Kentucky.

Not one person has picked anywhere but Kentucky for Herro since he decommitted from Wisconsin. It is 100 percent UK from the Crystal Ball pickers, which include Evan Daniels and Jerry Meyer.

Watch him work:

There is an invitation to grab the open backcourt spot in John Calipari’s next class and Herro might just be the one to go ahead and take it.


Without Jarren Williams, What’s Next?

Without Jarren Williams, What’s Next?

The back-and-forth relationship between Jarren Williams and Kentucky appears to have been ended yesterday after Williams’ official visit to Miami.  An on again, off again, on again, off again relationship, theres a chance it isn’t completely over, but Kentucky must use its resources to look forward to a future without Williams.

Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and the offensive coaches have been here before.  Last year they had to change course late in the recruiting season when Mac Jones flipped to Alabama.  Faced with a similar situation, here’s what the Cats could do with the 2018 recruiting class.

Nothing

Kentucky could do nothing and be fine.  Obviously, they will not do nothing.  Vince Marrow is actively seeing what options they still have, but if Kentucky doesn’t sign a quarterback in this class they will be just fine.

Mark Stoops said today that ideally each class has a quarterback.  “You’d like to.  Fortunately for us, we took two last year, which is a good thing.”

There will be at least four quarterbacks taking snaps in the spring: Drew Barker, Gunnar Hoak, Luke Wright and Danny Clark.  Walker Wood is another option but may not be available after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Between those five players, Kentucky could be set at quarterback for the next four years, allowing enough time to find the perfect fit who does not decommit at the eleventh hour.  The Cats have established strong early relationships with a handful of talented underclassmen; Lexington Catholic’s Beau Allen, a sophomore legacy recruit; junior Paul Tyson, Bear Bryant’s great grandson who visited UK for the Florida game; and junior Hayden Wolff, a 6’5″ pocket passer from Florida.

Stephen Johnson Part 2?

When Darin Hinshaw and Eddie Gran last looked for a JUCO quarterback, they found a winner.  Why not go back to that well?

Marrow recently began following a few junior college quarterbacks on Twitter, one of which the KSR crew has seen play.  Lindsey Scott Jr. is East Mississippi Community College’s dual-threat quarterback.  Mr. Football in the state of Louisiana, he transferred to Last Chance U after spending one season at LSU.  Scott plans on graduating in December and could enroll in time for spring practice with three years of eligibility.

Scott is only 5’11,” but he’s an extremely impressive athlete.  Without much of an offensive line, his legs get him out of trouble and help him make explosive plays.  This year he’s accounted for more than 30 touchdowns, 3,000 yards and led EMCC to a 10-1 record.

Marrow is also looking at Garden City Community College and former Oregon quarterback Terry Wilson.  Another dual-threat quarterback, Wilson has thrown for more than 1,700 yards and completed 60 percent of his passes.  When you watch the 6’3″ stud throw a football, it’s hard not to picture Stephen Johnson.

A Michigan Commit

Prior to zeroing in on Williams, Kentucky spent plenty of resources on Kevin Doyle.  A 6’4″ pocket passer from Washington D.C., Doyle camped with the Darin Hinshaw and the Kentucky Wildcats last summer shortly after receiving a scholarship offer.

If Kentucky tries to rekindle the relationship with Doyle, it will not be easy to get him to Lexington.  Doyle committed to Michigan in late September.  Even though the Wolverines have struggled to meet lofty expectations this season, Doyle appears firm in his commitment, visiting Ann Arbor last month.

Back to the Ohio Pipeline

Of course Vince Marrow knows a guy who in Ohio.  According to Ben Roberts, yesterday Marrow reached out to former Minnesota commit Brennan Armstrong.  The lefty is the top-ranked quarterback in Ohio and the No. 15 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.

Virginia is currently the favorite to land the flip from Minnesota, but there’s a chance Vince could pull the reverse-Regielsperger and get Armstrong to Lexington at the last minute.


Outside of the realm of quarterbacks, there’s a few pieces of good football recruiting news worth sharing.

On the day Williams decommitted for the second time, a former UK commit decommitted for the second time.  After Tennessee terminated Butch Jones, Shocky Jacques-Louis announced on Twitter he is no longer committed to the Vols.  Even after he parted ways with the Wildcats, Kentucky has actively recruited the Florida wide receiver.  Michigan and Michigan State are also in the mix but don’t be surprised to see a second recommitment in the 2018 class.

Kentucky is also in the running for a highly-coveted junior college transfer.  As of right now, Kentucky is the only school that has been actively recruiting former Under Armour All-American defensive back Eric Glover-Williams, his father told 247 Sports.

A Canton, Ohio native, Glover-Williams left Ohio State two games into the season and enrolled in Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  He’ll be eligible to enroll in January.  Between Marrow’s ties to Ohio and Stoops’ success with JUCO defensive backs (A.J. Stamps and now Lonnie Johnson), there’s a lot of things going Kentucky’s way.


Let’s talk about ESPN’s new college basketball graphics

Let’s talk about ESPN’s new college basketball graphics

If you’ve watched a Kentucky basketball game on ESPN or the SEC Network this season, you’ve surely noticed the new graphics, specifically all that chevron. From the scoreboard to the sidebars, ESPN looks more like an Etsy page or Pinterest board from 2013 than the Worldwide Leader in sports. What gives?

Upon first glance, the graphics may seem low budget, but upon further review, I think ESPN actually spent a lot of money making the scoreboard look like a Tervis tumbler. In a desperate attempt to connect with a younger audience, they overhauled the graphics with bold patterns and animations to say, “Hey, look, we’re cool now! We use Futura! Don’t cut the cord!”

Follow me on the road to Chevron City…

Intros: Dancing megaphones spitting lightning bolts! Chevron!!!

Watch out, students, here come some tiny basketballs that look like tennis balls!

Title card: Megaphones spitting out “goGOgo!”

Sidebar: Here come Jimmy D.’s keys with squiggles and chevron!

Outros: You know this game is intense because we circled “Vs.”!

Scoreboard: Once you see that subtle chevron, you’ll never unsee it!

Spring 2017 was such a simpler time:

Halftime report: We’re going to make your logo look like a postage stamp!

It’s the SEC on ESPN. We’re gonna make your eyes hurt!

Your turn…



Kentucky and Louisville to kick off at noon

The Southeastern Conference announced its start times for the Thanksgiving weekend slate of games and your University of Kentucky Wildcats were given the noon time slot.

That, of course, is the regular season finale against Louisville and Lamar Jackson, and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

Go Cats.


Random Calipari: Kansas preview edition

Random Calipari: Kansas preview edition

John Calipari has a tendency to go off the rails during his press conferences. Here are the three most ridiculous things he said/did in today’s preview of the showdown with Kansas in the Champions Classic.

1. Calipari channeled Gollum to demonstrate defensive habits

So far, Kentucky’s guards have struggled to stay in front of the guys they’re defending, which burned them several times last night. When asked, Calipari demonstrated how his guards are essentially “opening the gate” for the other team to make easy baskets.

“Some of it becomes positioning. Some of it is opening the gate. The guy goes to drive, watch. Instead of going here and here…”

“His first step is, I’m going to run you down…”

“Well, then you can’t catch him. If you’re going to get beat, get beat letting them shoot a tough two. You can’t give them layups or wide open threes. Those two things kill your team.”

How worried is Calipari about his guards on defense? Later on, he said if they can’t stay in front of Kansas’ guards on Tuesday, Kentucky will lose by 30. If that’s the case…


2. Calipari as a freshman in a boxing ring

Playing with confidence is not easy for most freshmen, especially this early on. Calipari said his freshmen are playing “cool,” not confident, which leads to them getting pummeled in the ring.

“Playing with confidence is real simple: I’m playing harder than the guy I’m playing against. I’m going to be confident. If he’s smashing me, I’m in the ring, PANG PANG POW.”

“I’m confident. I’m confident. EEEEEEGHHHH.”

“You can’t be confident. You’ve got to smash him! And then you’re dancing. These guys, there is no coolness because coolness leads to having no confidence. Because you’re cool, layup, layup, boom, foul, grab. And then your eyes are like that. And that’s what we’re trying to teach them. You build your confidence by playing harder than the other guy.”


3. “I’m kicking alligators and I’m coaching freshmen”

This team’s youth and inexperience is taking on a toll on Calipari, who is coping by “kicking dogs and throwing cats.” When asked if he’s okay, he broke out even more metaphors.

“No, I’m dying here. I’ve got a noose around my neck. I’m holding on to a rope, my hands are bleeding, I’m kicking alligators and I’m coaching freshmen. This thing, I’m fighting to get my mindset in that, I need to stay in the moment of all this. I’ve got to be as positive for these guys as I can.”

Kicking alligators seems like a self-defense issue, but can we leave the dogs and cats out of it?


The Good and the Bad of Kentucky’s win over Vermont

The Good and the Bad of Kentucky’s win over Vermont

We knew coming in that Vermont was a dangerous squad; however, after Kentucky cruised to a 12-point lead in the first half, everything seemed fine…until the Catamounts clawed their way back into the game and gave us the first nail biter of this very young season. Let’s break down what went right and what went wrong in Kentucky’s 73-69 win over Vermont.

GOOD: PJ Washington

PJ Washington didn’t made any preseason award watch lists or all-conference teams, but he was Kentucky’s most impressive player tonight, leading all scorers with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Washington wouldn’t take no for an answer on the inside, and his tenacity was a welcome sight after Friday’s subdued performance.

“There were a little bit of first game jitters [vs. Utah Valley],” Washington told Mike Pratt. “This game, I tried to focus on just doing my job and coming out and playing as team. I just wanted to play hard.”

Calipari praised Washington’s performance after the game, especially his two-handed rebound in the closing moments of the game.

“I thought PJ was a beast, finally,” Cal said. “First time this year. I just called him in and said, that’s what you need to be every practice and every game.”

Before the season, Calipari said Washington was one of the alpha dogs on this squad; today, he played like it.

BAD: Three-point defense

Vermont hit 10 threes this afternoon, seven in the second half. For all of their athleticism, the Cats couldn’t stay in front of Vermont’s guards on the perimeter, a very discouraging trend, and if not for a few plays, it could have come back to burn them. Let’s work on that.

GOOD and BAD: Hamidou Diallo

Diallo finished with 16 points, but — in what might be a microcosm of Kentucky’s season — his performance was both encouraging and infuriating. For almost every good Diallo moment, there was a bewildering one, most notably a wild, flailing drive at the basket in the second half that drove Calipari nuts on the sidelines.

“How about Hami’s one-handed foot-kick-throw?” Cal said afterwards. “The game is in the balance, man! This isn’t a H-O-R-S-E shot.”

BAD: Too many missed shots around the basket

With freshmen, this may be expected, but how many gimmes has Kentucky given up over the past two games? While the Cats have zero problems getting to the basket, more often than not, they cannot finish. That’s likely due to fatigue, but it’s definitely something that needs to improve moving forward.

GOOD:  Jimmy Dykes is back

Dykes was back on the call this afternoon, and I have to say, as much as we’ve made fun of him over the years, I really missed him. We were treated to a bit of peak Jimmy when he broke out a pair of cardboard hands to demonstrate Kentucky’s ridiculous wingspan this season:

Welcome back, Jimmy.

BAD: Shooting

If we’ve learned anything in the first few games, it’s that Kentucky is prone to scoring droughts. Like the end of the first half vs. Utah Valley, the Cats were cold to end the second half, missing seven of their last eight shots.

“I was trying to figure out who we do we go to,” Cal said of his team’s dry spell at the end of the game. “I don’t know yet. Do you know? If you know, write me a note because right now, we don’t know.”

GOOD: Knox hit a clutch three

One person he can go to is Kevin Knox. After a quiet game, Knox stepped up to hit a huge three to push Kentucky’s lead back to six with three minutes left. Calipari brought that shot up twice in his postgame press conference.

“How about Kevin’s three?” Cal said. “That was big. I need to know he could make that shot…It shows me he has courage enough to make it. A couple other guys missed all their shots. Well, maybe late, I’m not going to have you shoot it.”

Big-time players make big-time shots.

GOOD: Sacha Killeya-Jones

Sacha Killeya-Jones has been a different player this season. Not only is he more confident on the floor, he’s not giving up anything, playing with so much motor that Calipari left him in during clutch time.

“Sacha played his butt off today,” Cal said. “You just saw him, the work that he’s put in. This is what he’s looking like in practice, and now he’s carrying it over to the game.”

Wenyen Gabriel only scored two points, but he had a huge defensive play in the closing moments to prevent the upset. Thus far, I am very impressed by the veterans, who are thriving in their roles.

BAD: Kentucky only won by four

If you’ve been paying attention, you knew Vermont was a formidable foe; yet, that fact provided little comfort when the lead was cut to three in the final minutes.

“You cannot play Popcorn State and learn anything,” Cal joked at the beginning of his press conference. “You gotta play good teams. Now, I didn’t realize how good this team was until I watched the tape and then I was like, ‘Who scheduled this game?’ It’s ridiculous.”

GOOD: Kentucky won

When you get past the margin and look at Vermont’s resume from last season, today’s narrow win feels a lot better. Essentially, the Cats survived a scare from a tournament team, which is more than Calipari thought would happen when he watched Vermont’s tape over the weekend.

“This is a big time win,” Calipari said on his postgame show. “This is a BIG TIME win. I watched the tape, I thought we didn’t have a chance of winning.”

Will Kentucky’s resiliency pay off vs. No. 4 Kansas on Tuesday night? Ready or not, we’re about to find out.


Five Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win At Vanderbilt

Five Takeaways From Kentucky’s Win At Vanderbilt

Five takeaways from the win.

One for each touchdown…

 

It was a shut-up game for Mark Stoops.

Mark Stoops and his staff took a lot of criticism over the past week after dropping a game they should’ve won against Ole Miss. Their response was the 44-21 beating against Vanderbilt in a must-win game to keep the excitement alive in the regular season.

Earlier in the week I wrote in length about the importance of this game, which you can read here; if you saw it the same way, you must be thrilled by how the team came out and dominated on the road with the season on the line.

It feels good to smile again after the Ole Miss disappointment. Enjoy it.

Kentucky is 7-3.

BRING ON GEOR… Just kidding.

Vanderbilt played Grove St. Party.

The in-game stadium music included not one, not two, but three plays of Grove St. Party, and Kentucky took advantage of the playing of its own theme song. The first time we heard it, Kentucky intercepted a pass on the very next play. Vandy didn’t learn and then played it again, only to see Lynn Bowden return a kick 93 yards.

Do your homework, Vandy. And fire your DJ.

The rushing attack was phenomenal.

Benny Snell, 116 yards and three touchdowns. Sihiem King, 69 yards and two touchdowns. Stephen Johnson, 44 yards and some big third down runs. As a team, 232 yards and all five Kentucky scores.

What a game by the rushing attack, and let’s not praise it without giving love to the offensive line. The O-line opened up the gaps for the backs to make plays, and while we celebrate Benny Snell’s new record, we’d be remiss to not commend the guys who blocked for him. Drake Jackson, you’re the man. Things have been much better since the staff went to him midway through the season. He has been a silent MVP.

The defense forced Kyle Shurmur into four interceptions.

The safest hand in the SEC matched his season total in interceptions in the game and then some, throwing four picks against the Wildcat defense. Shurmur had only thrown three all year coming into the game, which tells you how big it was to get the takeaways.

For Kentucky, the secondary snapped its four-game draught without an interception, so that’s awesome.

Blue GOT IN.

The city of Nashville calls it the Big Blue Mist, and it took over the city and the stadium on Saturday. The attendance was announced at 27,345, and about 27,325 of those people were Kentucky fans.


Kentucky Runs All Over Vanderbilt in 44-21 Victory

Kentucky Runs All Over Vanderbilt in 44-21 Victory

Kentucky did not let the last-second loss to Ole Miss linger.  After surrendering an early touchdown to Ralph Webb, the Cats responded by scoring 34 unanswered points behind a powerful rushing attack and an opportunistic defense.

The Kentucky offense dominated the line of scrimmage to rack up 232 yards on five yards per carry. Benny Snell surpassed 1,000 yards in 2017 and set the school’s rushing touchdown record with 116 yards and three touchdowns.  Sihiem King added two more scores and 69 rushing yards.

On defense, the secondary was picked apart all week by critics.  Today they picked apart Kyle Shurmur.

Shurmur threw three interceptions through the first nine games of the season.  Tonight Kentucky picked off Shurmur four times, with three in the first half.  Denzil Ware snagged a tipped pass, Mike Edwards jumped a route and Derrick Baity flipped the field to setup a score with a 45-yard interception return.  Jordan Griffin ended the game with an interception in the final minute.

The secondary was helped by the Kentucky pass rush.  Entering tonight’s game, Vanderbilt was fourth in the conference by allowing just 11 sacks through nine games.  Kentucky pressured Shurmur all night, sacking him five times, led by Denzil Ware’s two sacks.

The 2017 Kentucky football season has been filled with high-pressured heartache.  Tonight the Cats gave the fans a nice, easy, good ole-fashioned blowout to become 7-3.  Enjoy it.


Keldon Johnson Commits to KENTUCKY

Keldon Johnson has picked Kentucky over N.C. State, Maryland and Texas.

The five-star 6’6″ Oak Hill Academy swingman is considered the No. 2 shooting guard in America and the No. 14 player overall by the 247 Composite Rankings.  Johnson is the second member of John Calipari’s 2018 recruiting class, joining point guard Immanuel Quickley.

Recruited by Joel Justus, Johnson’s stock soared following this summer’s Team USA Junior National Team Mini-Camp.  According to 247’s Jerry Meyer, the physical slasher took his game to another level when he brought an improved jump shot to Colorado Springs.  There’s impressive highlights to back-up that statement.

But wait, THERE’S MORE!  This time from the 2017 Nike EYBL.

Welcome to the BBN.