By Drew Franklin on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 7:50pm
Here’s a fun offer for your Kentucky-Toledo game day experience:
UK has partnered up with TailgateGuys.com to provide a unique experience at Kroger Field on opening Saturday. With the new Tailgate & Ticket Special Offer, fans can get a lower-level seat at the game plus two hours of tailgating fun with free Lyles BBQ and more.
For more information or to purchase the package, click here.
It is also available for Kentucky’s second game against Eastern Michigan.
The deal costs $40 per game.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
This past Monday, the Kentucky Wildcats gained some serious momentum for a four-star all-purpose running back out of Vince Marrow’s favorite territory.
According to 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions, Michael Drennen II – the seventh-ranked player out of Ohio – is now trending towards choosing the Wildcats over The (trademark?) Ohio State University.
The updated predictions now swing 55 percent in favor of the Cats with only 27 percent choosing the Buckeyes followed by nine percent for the Stanford Cardinals. This comes shortly after OSU was deemed the overwhelming favorite.
247 Sports also stated that Drennen is hoping to schedule an official visit to Lexington this fall.
“(Kentucky has) two backs committed right now (Torrance Davis and Jutahn McClain) and they’re still pushing for me,” Drennen said. “I love Kentucky and I’ve been there the most of any of the out of state schools. Those coaches are my guys and we talk all the time, especially (tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow).”
“I will take an official visit there for sure.”
Marrow and Kentucky have been hot on Drennen for some time now, offering the Dublin, Ohio native a scholarship as early as his freshman season.
Kentucky currently sits at No. 22 in the 2020 recruiting standings with 16 total players after recently picking up two commitments, Deondre Buford and Tre’Vonn Rybka, and they continue to shoot up the standings with what is turning out to be an excellent class for the Cats.
If Drennen does decide to come to Kentucky, he would be the fourth four-star player in this class.
Will these Yathzees ever get boring? Let’s just test that theory with another commitment, shall we?
Check out his highlight package below.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Leading the way with a game-high 14 points, former Kentucky Wildcat star Evelyn Akhator helped lead Nigeria to a first-place victory over Senegal in the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket title this past Sunday. It was Nigeria’s second consecutive AfroBasket title.
You might remember Akhator as the highest-drafted WNBA player to ever come out of Lexington after she was drafted third overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She currently plays overseas in Spain as a member of CB Avenida.
Playing center and standing at 6-foot-3, Akhator averaged 11 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals in five games during the tournament while shooting over 52 percent from the field. She was arguably the most efficient player on her team, as well.
While her WNBA career hasn’t quite panned out the way she might have anticipated, she dominated the competition in international play. She made a return to the WNBA earlier in 2019, however, she was not brought on board full-time after training camp ended.
An interesting side note that I noticed while watching the post-game press conference was the discovery of the coach of the Nigerian team. Otis Hughley Jr., a former NBA assistant, has been the Nigerian national team’s head coach since 2018. He was also the head coach on Loyalty Is Love, DeMarcus Cousins’ squad that won the Lexington Regional at The Basketball Tournament over the summer. Small world?
Congratulations are in order for Akhator, who we all hope to see back in the states and the WNBA sometime soon.
By Drew Franklin on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
If you were waiting to take advantage of the Pocket Pass, UK’s flexible football season ticket option; sorry, you waited too late.
The ticket office announced it sold completely out of its Pocket Pass options for the upcoming 2019 football season. The passes went on sale back in March and now all 900 have been purchased.
The Pocket Pass allows fans to take in all eight home games with the convenience of mobile ticket delivery. According to the news release, the first 500 Pocket Passes were sold at $225 apiece and the remaining passes sold for $250 apiece.
Last week we learned the Four-Game Flex Packs sold out, so it is clear the 10-win, Citrus Bowl season ignited a lot of excitement across the fan base. There are also five thousand new season ticket holders ready to storm Kroger Field this season.
Season tickets are still available at UKFootballTix.com starting at $280 apiece.
It’s almost here!
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
Before he was an All-SEC wide receiver, Lynn Bowden was a talented high school quarterback. He’s only thrown a few passes over the last two years, but Bowden can still sling it.
Quarterback Lynn Bowden pic.twitter.com/GTIxe8IIgv
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) August 20, 2019
Bowden was seen throwing passes, instead of catching them, quite often throughout Kentucky’s 15th preseason practice. From receiver drills, to 7-on-7 and even 11-on-11, Lynn was letting it fly.
“I just wanted to show off my arm a little bit, just show them I still got it.” Bowden said he’s not trying to take Terry Wilson’s job, still, Wilson can feel the heat.
“He’s been looking good out there,” said Wilson. “He’s been throwing the ball good, so I’m going to have to beat him up and tell him it’s my position.”
Stoops happily got in on the joke, or is it a joke?
“He can do a lot of things,” said Stoops. “We’ll continue to fool around with him there.”
In his first season as a Wildcat, Bowden completed 3-of-4 passes out of the Wildcat formation for 92 yards. The lone incompletion was an interception. Just like in his first year, when Bowden was throwing the football at Tuesday’s practice, he was throwing it deep. Even if it’s only implemented once every few games, it can do just enough to force the defense to honor the potential pass, giving Bowden more room to operate in the run game.
“It adds more stress to the defense. They probably won’t know he can throw the ball like that,” said Terry Wilson. “They probably think he’s just going to run it. Then he pulls and throws a 60-yard yard bomb or something like that. It catches the defense on their heels. It’s explosive. It’s definitely going to be something for the defense to keep their eyes open to.”
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran knows that for his unit to be successful, Bowden needs as many touches as possible. If that means letting him rip it out of the Wildcat, so be it.
“You wanna try to get a guy that can make plays, you want to get him the ball anyway that you can,” said Gran. “We’re going to have him touches from everywhere, whether it be the X, Y, F, Z position. We’ll have him at quarterback, running back. He’s going to be a lot of different places.”
Lynn Bowden is not putting Terry Wilson’s job in jeopardy anytime soon. In fact, Bowden’s ability to get open will provide Wilson with plenty of job security. Anything to help a friend.
“We’re like peanut butter and jelly,” Bowden said, “I’m the peanut butter. I’m tough, tough to swallow.”
The Sources Say Podcast E1: Daishen Nix commits to UCLA, the latest on Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, and JJ Traynor
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
The Sources Say Podcast is finally here!
In their debut episode, KSR’s Jack Pilgrim is joined by Jake Weingarten and Travis Graf of Cats Illustrated to break down all things Kentucky basketball recruiting.
The trio of recruiting insiders discuss:
What is the latest with 2020 five-star point guard Daishen Nix?
(NOTE: This podcast was recorded prior to Nix’s commitment to UCLA on Tuesday afternoon. Pilgrim, Weingarten, and Graf jump back on at the end of the show to discuss the big news)
- Breaking down Nix’s game… Is he the best passer in high school basketball?
- Their thoughts on Kentucky not extending an offer yet
- Some new scoop on Nix that could affect Kentucky’s future roster
- Why Nix’s camp was frustrated with UK
Breaking down Jalen Green’s game
- Huge room to grow, high ceiling. Naturally gifted, supreme athletic. Can be a legitimate future NBA superstar
- From his camp: quite a comparison to some former UK players in the NBA
- Will he make it to a college campus?
- How they would handicap his recruitment?
- Has RJ Hampton’s decision to play overseas changed the mindset of these high school kids’ decisions?
- Does the UK coaching staff like the idea of top recruits coming together on an official visit?
Breaking down Josh Christopher’s game
- Pilgrim is extremely high on Christopher… Could he be even better than Green?
- Can he run the point guard position?
- Comparison to another former John Calipari star
- What a potential future UK roster could look like
- A fun Jalen Green vs. Josh Christopher matchup Pilgrim observed at Peach Jam
The breakout star of the summer is Bardstown’s own JJ Traynor
- What do we need to know about his recruitment?
- What Traynor’s high school coach told KSR about his game
And to close the show, the Sources Say hosts scramble to add in a new segment with Daishen Nix’s abrupt commitment to UCLA on Tuesday afternoon.
- What does this decision mean for Kentucky?
- Should we be worried about UK putting all their eggs in one basket with Green and Christopher?
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
As training camp nears a conclusion, the Kentucky football coaches opened up practice to the media. If consuming practice notes does not float your boat, highlights from the individual drill portion of practice will do just the trick to get you fired up for August 31.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 3:07pm
After deciding to remain in the 2021 class last week, Paolo Banchero has scheduled his official visits. The five-star power forward from Seattle tweeted that he will visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on October 11.
Banchero will visit North Carolina on September 27, Duke on October 17, Tennessee on October 25, and Gonzaga on January 18. Home state Washington was considered the early frontrunner (his parents both played there), and although the Huskies are not getting an official visit, he’s visited them unofficially several times.
Banchero is considered the top power forward and a top five overall prospect in the 2021 class by 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rivals. I really enjoy this description of his game from Rivals’ Corey Evans.
“What Banchero brings to the floor is an all-encompassing skillset that wreaks havoc from 20-feet and in. One of the very best standouts on the Nike EYBL circuit, NBPA Top 100 Camp, and at the USA Basketball Mini-Camp this summer, Banchero sets the bar for what a premier frontcourt prospect looks like and would be an immediate producer regardless of his year of enrollment and for which program that he ultimately selects.”
Yes, please. Watch him work below.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 2:45pm
August 31 will be the first time Toldeo has played Kentucky, and it won’t be the last. According to FB Schedules, the Cats have agreed to a new three-year series with the Rockets beginning in 2025.
Vince Marrow’s alma mater will return to Lexington on August 30, 2025. On September 4, 2027, Kentucky will travel to Toledo, and the next year, the Rockets will return the favor for the 2028 home opener. Here’s an updated look at Kentucky’s future non-conference opponents from FB Schedules in case you really want to plan ahead:
|9/5 – Eastern Michigan||9/4 – Louisiana-Monroe||9/3 – Miami (OH)||9/2 – Ball State||8/31 – Akron||8/30 – Toledo||9/5 – Akron||9/4 – at Toledo||9/2 – Toledo|
|9/19 – Kent State||9/17 – Youngstown State||9/9 – Eastern Kentucky||9/21 – Ohio||9/19 – Youngstown State|
|10/10 – Eastern Illinois||11/20 – New Mexico State||9/24 – Northern Illinois||9/16 – at Akron||11/16 – Murray State||9/26 – South Alabama|
|11/28 – at Louisville||11/27 – Louisville||11/26 – at Louisville|
Odds Kentucky ends up buying out the 2027 game ala Eastern Michigan this year?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 2:23pm
Last night, 2020 five-star point guard Daishen Nix cut his list to five schools, with UCLA, Kentucky, Alabama, Maryland, and Kansas all being included.
Today, after telling reporters that he was planning on taking visits to all five schools on his list, including one already scheduled for late September to Alabama, Nix shocked the world by announcing his commitment to UCLA this afternoon.
“Most of my family is round the west coast, so if I leave to go to UCLA it’s not that hard for them to fly over and drive over to see me,” Nix explained to Evan Daniels of 247Sports. “I loved the weather out there, the visit I had over the weekend was just unbelievable. It just really caught my eye.”
Nix also said he felt UCLA prioritized him the most among all the schools on his list.
“[Mick Cronin] prioritized me from the start,” he added. “As soon as he got there, and it was only him recruiting me, none of the assistant coaches.”
Now, Kentucky will turn its attention to Josh Christopher and Jalen Green to join BJ Boston in the backcourt.
We will have more on the decision on the Sources Say Podcast, set to debut this afternoon. I will also have another post on the site breaking down what this means for Kentucky in a bit.
By Adam Luckett on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Back on January 26th, Tennessee defensive tackle Tre’vonn Rybka received his first Power Five scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky. Following the Wildcats in the next three-plus months with offers were Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Arizona, West Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, LSU, Arkansas, Boston College, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Nebraska. It’s unclear whether each of them were committable offers, but it’s evident that Mark Stoops and his staff were early to the party.
Derrick LeBlanc was the point man on this recruitment and records his second crootin’ win of the 2020 cycle after reeling in offensive lineman Joshua Jones earlier this summer. In the end, the interior defensive lineman picked the Wildcats over Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Oregon as Kentucky dipped into the Volunteer State for a very intriguing prospect. Tre’vonn Rybka is the sixth highest rate recruit currently in this class, per the 247 Sports composite, and adds to an impressive defensive line haul.
Now it’s time to go into the KSR Film Room to show you what the Dickson County senior will be bringing to Lexington in 2020. It’s taken awhile, but under Derrick LeBlanc this defensive line group is climbing the ladder in the SEC.
In Kentucky’s 3-4 defense this season you are essentially going to see a nose man and two guys lined up on the offensive tackles. In a 3-4 Eagle Front, you essentially have two guys lined up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackles. In football lingo, this is called a 4i technique while the nose on the center is a zero technique. The 4i fits exactly what Tre’Vonn Rybka does best.
In high school, the 6-foot-4 defensive end is an anchor on the line of scrimmage. In the 3-4 scheme, you are playing a lot of isolation football with the offensive tackles and you need to have some power game. Rybka has a loaded lower body with what appears to be a strong upper core. That allows him create a push at the point of attack and make a play. Here that power results in a quarterback sack.
Yes, you need to have big and physical defensive line players at the line of scrimmage that can hold up and battle with big and strong offensive centers, guards, and tackles. That’s the most important part of the game, but you also must be able to move and make plays away from your starting point. On film, Tre’Vonn Rybka does that.
Above you see the jumbo defensive end start on the opposite of the play and in pursuit he factors into the tackle yards past the line of scrimmage. Athleticism and motor is a big part of the position and Rybka shows he has both of those traits.
The name of the game is establishing the run and stopping the run. A big reason for UK’s 10-win season in 2018 was their ability to do that on both sides of the football. We’ve seen Tre’vonn Rybka factor in on pass rush and pursuit, but the best part of his game might just be his run stuffing ability.
On this zone read action, Rybka does a great job with read and react defense. The defensive end delivers a strong punch and knocks the left tackle backwards. He quickly diagnoses the handoff and makes a sure tackle for a minimal gain. His presence here was much needed because the center and left guard got some great movement on the defensive tackle.
At the college level, the defensive end is going to have to make plays exactly like this to be a force in the run game. You must win at the point of attack, read and react, and then make a play on the football.
The Nashville metropolitan area native is another big recruiting win for the UK staff. After years of a slow build which included a ton of junior college plug-and-play players, Kentucky finally seems to be in a good spot attracting talented high school defensive line prospects.
In the 2020 class, Tre’vonn Rybka joins two other prospects (Samuel Anaele and Justin Rogers) who are both blue-chip recruits. All of a sudden, this position group is starting to become a team strength and Kentucky will be hopeful that Rybka will have the same impact as the last time they dipped into Tennessee to grab a nose guard (Quinton Bohanna) in 2017.
On the field, the borderline composite four-star prospect brings size, power, and athleticism. With a powerful lower body and room to add strength on top, he’s a schematic fit for UK’s 3-4 defensive end. It’s another solid 2020 recruiting win and quietly Derrick LeBlanc is becoming one of UK’s most valuable assistants.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 1:15pm
Yesterday, Ralph Hacker ruffled some feathers on the Terry Meiners Show when he said he believes John Calipari is “shortchanging” Kentucky fans with his one-and-done approach. This morning, the former Voice of the Wildcats called into Kentucky Sports Radio to clarify those comments.
The subject originally came up when Meiners mentioned Kyle Macy’s recent comments about Calipari being too focused on the NBA. Hacker took up for his former broadcast partner, telling Meiners he doesn’t feel the program has the fans in mind anymore, comparing it to radio hosts booking a superstar slate of guests for ratings week and only average guests the rest of the time.
“Perhaps it was a bad analogy,” Hacker said on KSR this morning. “What I was saying was to this point: when you recruit one-and-dones — and maybe that’s the way it’s all gone now, is that you have to recruit those, and again, John knows more about this than I do — is that if you recruit just for just for this one season rather than look for three years, two years, four years down the road, where you’re trying to stack up national championships for the benefit of the university and the benefit of your fans, it’s like you working just for one ratings week and saying, ‘I’m going to put everything I’ve got here just for this week. Everything I’ve got is going into this week and the rest of the time I’m going to coast and see what happens.'”
When Matt asked if he was implying that Calipari is coasting, Hacker once again said he probably misspoke and is just used to the way things used to be.
“Just because he does that doesn’t make it wrong. He’s probably right. I’m just saying from Joe Blow fan who’s used to, over the years — see, I’m a lot older than you. I’m a lot older than Cal. I’m used to being able to go to University of Kentucky games and see great teams come in there and you see Kentucky play them and beat them most of the time, used to being able to know the players and take pride in those particular players — and I do take pride for the year that they’re there. I just forgot who they are after they’re not there.”
In fact, Hacker said most of his frustrations stem from the non-conference home schedule, which has gotten weaker as the program adds more neutral site games.
“Everybody has their own way of doing it. The way that John does it is fine. That’s the way John wants to do it. That’s the way the university wants to do it and John’s made a commitment to do that. What I was attempting to say was, I believe as far as a fan goes — I’m thinking as a Ralph B. Hacker as a fan, a guy who writes the checks every year and buys the basketball tickets that I’ve had since the day Rupp Arena opened — is that I feel that I’m getting shortchanged. I’m thinking as a fan that I want to see more quality teams come in there. I don’t want to — while I love Eastern Kentucky University, while I love Transylvania — I don’t want that to be the highlight of my November and December schedule.”
Hacker said he’d prefer some of the neutral site games that take place in New York or Las Vegas move closer to Lexington so fans can be within driving distance.
“My point is that we play a tough schedule. There’s no question about that. My argument is, we play that schedule is with most of the games being away from home where it costs Joe Blow fan another $2,000 to go to New York City and play. Or to go to Las Vegas and play. Or to go to Chicago and play. Some of those games, if they could be worked out, need to be played where Kentucky fans can get to those games and enjoy that as part of their regular season schedule.”
Listen to Hacker’s interview below. He comes on halfway through Hour 1:
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 12:24pm
Mark Stoops opened the doors of the Joe Craft Football Training Facility to the media for practice No. 15. Enjoy observations from sideline on each position group after watching the Cats in action for an hour.
- The first group in 7-on-7: Cedrick Dort, Jordan Griffin, Yusuf Corker and Jamari Brown.
- Stoops asks Mosley why he is covering grass. The head coach is giving lot of individual attention to the DBs.
- Jamari Brown plays physical in bump coverage vs. Wagner.
- Mosely has some work to do in man coverage. The JUCO transfer is too slow to react when receivers break.
- Brown makes another physical play as the ball arrives. This guy has the potential to bring what Baity and Lonnie brought to the secondary.
- Echols is the only guy who’s come close to covering Bowden.
- Corker breaks up stuff across the middle in zone from safety. He was much more efficient as a safety than a nickel.
- Paschal blowing up running plays while defending the slot. Covering nicely too, giving Rigg nothing on the wheel route.
- Wright getting in work at Sam linebacker. Stoops said he’ll work both spots, likely the No. 2 option at each.
- Weaver and Casey are rolling with the twos; Casey is doing a good job keeping his outside shoulder free and forcing everything inside.
- Peters is way too good to be with the threes, especially in pursuit from the backside, but that’s what they have to do until they receive word from the NCAA.
- Q moves so damn well for his size. He’s an enormous nose guard that’s as agile as an end.
- Calvin Taylor has gotten quicker out of his stance.
- Bohanna is taking up two and sometimes three guys each snap. That’s how you blow up the middle of an offense.
- T.J. Carter practiced sparingly, slightly banged up after a grueling camp.
- Schlarman: “The cameras are on you. Your ass better not look like crap.”
- I really like the counter action they use with the tight end/H-back. It happens fast and gives the RB an extra two yards to get a head full of steam to get to and through the second level of the defense.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
- Bowden makes Griffin look stupid in one-on-ones.
- Wagner is exponentially quicker out of breaks, getting better separation.
- Nobody can guard Lynn Bowden at all.
- Ali gets a 1-on-1 with Dort and makes him pay. Terry delivered the deep ball to him in stride on the fade.
- Marrow absolutely lost his mind when Rigg dropped a pass over the middle. He’s heaped plenty of praise on his guys in the preseason. They can’t let him down when the lights turn on Saturdays.
- B.J. Alexander makes a great catch through solid coverage on a deep out from Smith. He probably won’t play this year, but he’s showing a lot of potential to contribute next year, while still making simple mistakes like carrying the ball in his inside arm.
- Gran refuses to curse. “Do you understand it? Gosh almighty, dang!”
- C-Rod shows patience in Wildcat.
- Smoke is rocking a red jersey, but still participating in 11-on-11.
- Sawyer Smith is hitting guys in stride out of their breaks.
- Bowden is throwing in WR drills and 7-on-7s. Most are under thrown, but they’re good looking spirals.
- Bowden’s favorite ball to throw is the deep ball.
- Smith is making the right reads in 11-on-11, dropping a beautiful ball in Clevan Thomas’ bucket on a wheel route. This guy is a solid back-up for TW3.
- Terry is getting to his third and fourth reads pretty seamlessly. He had a great start to the day but had a few throws he’d like to get back in the second half of practice.
The Big Takeaways
1. “Quarterback Lynn Bowden”
Kentucky’s top wide receiver is also QB3. This year the Wildcat quarterback will not just be a running threat. If Bowden shows anything in the passing game, opposing defenses must honor the deep threat every time he takes a snap. He’s thrown a few balls before, but the former high school quarterback failed to deliver right away. He has enough arm power and accuracy. As training camp nears a conclusion, they’re working him into the action more often in practice to improve his timing, and more importantly, keep him from receiving too much contact from the defense.
2. Brandin Echols HAS to play
The JUCO cornerback simply doesn’t let the opposing wide receivers do what they want. Nobody can cover Bowden, except Echols. Wagner is at least six inches taller than Echols, but it did not matter. Echols knocked him off his route and took him out of the play. He will be the closest thing Kentucky has to a “lock down” corner. Coming off a summer hamstring injury, UK’s coaches need to do whatever they can to make sure Echols receives as many snaps as possible.
3. Finding a Nickel will be Difficult
The Cats are really going to miss Mike Edwards. UK’s secondary has a few different candidates who can provide competent run support, but Corker, Ajian and Griffin struggled to cover slots in man coverage. To be fair, they’re usually covering Lynn Bowden. Davonte Robinson’s absence will be felt until one player rises to the occasion.
4. Ahmad Wagner will Contribute
The former basketball player’s greatest advantage is also a disadvantage. Corners can’t match up with his size, but it also slows him down. You can tell Wagner’s anticipation at the position has exponentially improved. He wasn’t just catching jump balls, he was beating corners cutting out of breaks. When he’s not catching passes, he’ll be a valuable asset blocking on the outside.
5. Leaning on 12 Personnel
Kentucky’s base offense will feature Josh Ali, Lynn Bowden, Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw as the H-back. The big guys make the Cats more dynamic in the run game and they’re big targets in the middle of the field. There’s a ton of potential out of this personnel grouping, but the inexperienced bigs must grow up fast to become consistent weapons.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
The Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame inducted six new members last night, with three of them being former University of Kentucky legends.
The Wildcats included? Former Kentucky basketball star Derek Anderson, UK football trailblazer Nate Northington, and Kentucky radio legend Ralph Hacker.
The 42nd KSOF class was officially introduced last night, with former Louisville football star Deion Branch, KSU legend William Exum, and U.S. Olympian Willis Augustus Lee.
Here were the former Wildcats last night:
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) August 19, 2019
Anderson, a Louisville native, won a national championship at Kentucky in 1996 before playing in the NBA for 11 years, winning a title with the Miami Heat in 2006.
Northington was an all-state high school football player before playing at Kentucky, where he became the first African-American ever to play in an SEC football game.
To round out the UK representatives, Hacker was a long-time radio color analyst and did play-by-play for the University of Kentucky.
Congratulations to the former Wildcats for their impressive achievement!
By Adam Luckett on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 11:25am
After previewing the entire offense (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line) we are finally wrapping up the defense after touching on the defensive line, edge, and inside linebackers. This year, Mark Stoops and his secondary coaches have a ton to replace. Just how much?
161 starts. 853 tackles. 38 tackles for loss. 4.5 sacks. 24 interceptions. 79 pass break-ups. 8 forced fumbles. 3 blocked kicks.
That’s a lot.
Then you add in the loss of redshirt junior Davonte Robinson for the season before training camp started and there are a lot of unanswered questions entering the fall. After being one of college football’s best secondary units last year, the Wildcats must now try to reload in 2019.
When Mark Stoops was hired, many were excited about what he would bring to the defensive side of the football. For years, the Wildcats had put points on the board, but have struggled to stop people. Under Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips, Kentucky only recorded one top-40 defense (2008) per S&P+. The hope was that Stoops could quickly build on that side of the ball.
It was a slow start for the former Arizona and Florida State defensive coordinator with Kentucky only finishing in the top-60 (2014) once in his first five seasons on campus. That all changed this past season.
Behind the best defensive player in college football and five seniors in the secondary, the Wildcats ranked first in the SEC in scoring defense and finished 15th overall per S&P+. It was a dominant unit for most of the season and the secondary was a big reason why.
After a slow climb that began in 2015 with Derrick Baity, Mike Edwards, and Chris Westry all breaking into starting roles as freshmen, the Wildcats slowly started to improve. Edwards became an All-SEC player and was drafted. Lonnie Johnson, a junior college prospect, rode a strong senior season into a draft selection. Both Derrick Baity and Chris Westry seem set to make rosters for the Cowboys and Texans. This isn’t even including Darius West who collected 171 tackles and four interceptions the last two seasons.
Mark Stoops, Steve Clinkscale, and Dean Hood have proven they can build a good secondary when give the right pieces and time. Now Kentucky must start the rebuild with six former high three-star/four-star recruits and two junior college transfers.
The Secondary Room
At Kentucky, the Wildcats split up the secondary between two position coaches. Steve Clinkscale handles the corners while former Wake Forest defensive coordinator and Eastern Kentucky head coach Dean Hood guides the safeties. Both have their hands full this season, but there is one very important upperclassmen.
Jordan Griffin is entering senior season and the former high three-star recruit, per the 247 Sports composite, needs to be good for Kentucky this season. The defensive back has moved all over the secondary, but appears set to have one of the starting safety spots locked up in 2019. The Atlanta area native has made one career start, has played in 33 games, and has 41 tackles with one career interception. Those numbers have to improve this season.
Next to Griffin at safety figures to be either Tyrell Ajian or Yusuf Corker. Both are former blue-chip recruits and Ajian played in all 13 games last season while being the sixth defensive back used in UK’s dime packages. Corker, meanwhile, also played in all 13 games but mainly in a special teams role. Kentucky needs one to emerge and take control of that starting spot. True freshman Moses Douglass also figures to factor into this battle.
Now it’s time to switch to corner where Kentucky has zero experience returning. At the defense’s boundary corner spot, redshirt sophomore Cedrick Dort, Jr. is the expected starter. The South Florida native was redshirted due to a high ankle sprain injury last season after playing in nine games as a true freshman. At just 5-foot-11, Dort will be giving up some size at the position but was a physical and solid tackler coming out of high school.
At the field corner spot, junior college transfer Brandin Echols was the heavy favorite to start at this spot after recording six interceptions and 12 pass break-ups at Northwest Mississippi Community College last fall. However, he’s been hampered in fall camp by a hamstring injury. That has meant two freshmen being thrown into the fire.
Redshirt freshman Jamari Brown figured to be the next guy up at this spot, but one of the stars at camp appears to be true freshman M.J. Devonshire. The high three-star recruit has been lauded by Vince Marrow and could be the day one starter if Brandin Echols isn’t able to run with the ones during game prep. The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania native had eight interceptions as a senior in high school in addition to being an explosive playmaker on offense. Don’t be surprised if he’s the team’s starting kick returner.
At nickel, UK lost Mike Edwards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that won’t be an easy spot to fill. The slot corner is essentially a starter for the defense and the staff asks this position to do a lot. The defensive back must constantly guard slot receivers in man coverage in addition to being an effective blitzer and run defender in the box. At this point, we really don’t know what UK will do here. It will likely be a spot where they try to get either Tyrell Ajian, Yusuf Corker, or junior college transfer Quandre Mosely on the field. Brandin Echols’ man coverage ability could be effective there. M.J. Devonshire could be plugged in to get the best 11 on the field. We likely won’t know who it will be until the defense takes the field against Toledo’s spread offense.
Kentucky was gutted in the secondary following last season and the unexpected loss of Davonte Robinson was a huge blow to this position group. Now the Wildcats are heavily dependent on junior college transfers, a handful of underclassmen, and a senior who has been a reserve for three seasons. There are a ton of unanswered questions.
At corner, Cedrick Dort, Jr. has one spot locked down but is giving up a lot of size at the position. Kentucky has had large boundary corners the last four seasons and only time will tell if Dort can hold up. We are not sure who will be the backup there. On the other side, Brandin Echols is the best cover man on the team, but a hamstring injury has hampered his progress. That could mean Kentucky could be starting a freshman at corner for the first time since 2015.
At safety, it is essential for the Wildcats to get really good play from senior Jordan Griffin. He is by far the most experienced player in the back end and must be a rock for the young players surrounding him. Next to Griffin will be three former blue-chippers and UK should feel good about at least one of them becoming a very solid contributor in 2019. Quandre Mosely figures to be a wild card and the staff appears to be determined to find him a role this season.
At nickel, your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully we will get some type of answer on Monday when UK’s first depth chart of the season is released. Mark Stoops is going to have to show off those secondary coaching chops this fall.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 10:00am
Michael Avenatti’s War on Nike was back in the news yesterday as new texts suggest the shoe company started courting Emoni Bates when he was only 13 years old.
Last week, Yahoo Sports released a series of texts between Nike EYBL executives from February 2017 discussing deals for three players: Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford, and an unnamed prospect from Michigan whose name was redacted because he’s a minor. As suspected, Yahoo is now reporting that player is Bates, who was only two weeks past his 13th birthday and a seventh grader at the time. Bates, now 15, has been called the best player in high school basketball, and is expected to make the jump directly to the pros in 2022 should the one-and-done rule go by the wayside.
In the texts, the Nike executives discuss how much it will take to sponsor the AAU team that Bates’ father ran, batting around the figure of “15.” Documents don’t show that the offer was ever made, and Bates’ father told Yahoo Sports that the team, Bates Fundamental, didn’t join the EYBL until 2018, a year after the texts were sent. Considering Bates probably won’t even play college basketball and even if he did, NCAA rules allow a shoe company to hire a parent to operate and/or coach an AAU team if it’s an honest employment situation, these claims are no big deal; however, discussing deals for 13-year-old kids is yet another reminder of how seedy grassroots basketball can be.
For more, check out Yahoo’s report from last night.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 9:55am
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Tuesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. Today, the gang will break down Kentucky’s latest football commitment, look ahead to the season, and probably discuss a lot of random stuff.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (772) 774-5254.
|Ashland||WCMI||93.3 FM T||LIVE|
|Bowling Green||WKCT||930 AM||LIVE|
|Bowling Green||WKCT||104.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Elizabethtown||WIEL||106.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Grayson||WGOH||100.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Hopkinsville||WHOP||95.3 FM T||LIVE|
|Lancaster||WZXI||1280 AM||5-7 PM|
|Lancaster/Stanford||WZXI||95.5 FM T||5-7 PM|
|Leitchfield||WMTL||870 AM||10A-12N CST|
|London||WFTG||106.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Madisonville||WFMW||94.9 FM T||LIVE|
|McKee-Booneville||Peoples Rural Telephone||Cable TV Channel 209||LIVE|
|Morganfield||WUCO||98.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Paducah||WPAD||99.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Pikeville||WLSI||95.9 FM T||LIVE|
|Prestonsburg||WPRT||104.5 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitesburg||WTCW||95.1 FM T||LIVE|
|Whitley City||WHAY||98.3 FM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||1400 AM||LIVE|
|Williamson, WV||WBTH||102.5 FM T||LIVE|
|50 Radio Affiliates|
1 TV/Cable Affiliate
*Affiliates subject to change without notice
By Nick Roush on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 9:00am
Not a game, but practice.
The Kentucky football team is about to hit the field for Practice No. 15 of fall camp. Unlike only one other before, today the media will be able to see what’s happening outside of the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. That means instead of the typical interviews you hear from coaches after practice, you’ll hear it from my perspective.
Updates will come in fast and furious around lunchtime. The practice open to the media isn’t the only thing happening around the Big Blue Nation this Tuesday.
Kentucky Picks Up a Football Commit
Another talented lineman from Michigan has joined the Cats’ 2020 recruiting class. A four-star prospect ranked as the No. 24 offensive tackle in America, Detroit’s Deondre Buford became the third prospect from Michigan to commit to Kentucky when he put on the basketball checkerboards in a commitment ceremony at his school Monday afternoon.
— Jared Purcell (@JaredPurcellDET) August 19, 2019
And they could Add Another
A Kentucky recruit on the other side of the line of scrimmage could don a UK hat this afternoon. Dickson, Tn. defensive lineman Tre’vonn Rybkka is set to make his college announcement this afternoon. Choosing between the Cats and the Vols, most believe Derrick LeBlanc will land a commitment, pushing Kentucky back into the top 25 of Rivals national team rankings.
Kentucky is a Finalist for Daishen Nix
The top-ranked point guard in America shrunk his list to five and the Cats made the cut. UK is still in the mix for the 6-5 prospect, even though Nix still does not officially hold a scholarship offer to Kentucky. Allow Jack Pilgrim to explain the situation.
What a Deal
If you still haven’t made plans for Kentucky’s first two home games of the season, allow me to make them for you. In a partnership with Tailgate Guys, you can enjoy all-you-can-eat Lyles BBQ before watching the Cats take on Toledo and Eastern Michigan from the lower-level of Kroger Field. Each game will only set you back $40 a person. Take advantage of this opportunity that’s too good to be true before it’s gone.
A Chance to Kick for $10,000
Let’s say you want to take a chance and not purchase tickets to the home-opener. There’s another way you can win a pair of free tickets, Skyline Chili for a year and $10,000. One lucky person who signs up here will receive the tickets and the free Skyline. To get the cash, all you have to do is knock down a field goal from the 20-yard line at halftime of the home-opener. Ain’t no thang, but a chicken wang, on a strang. Register before August 26 for your chance to win.
Kickers Don’t Just Kick
The 49ers’ kickoff specialist learned how to lower the boomstick playing Aussie rules football.
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) August 20, 2019
Wrap your mind around this for a second.
College football quarterbacking…
#1’s former starter is starting at Mizzou
#2’s former starter is starting at #4
#3 has a former starter at #13 & their former back up is starting at #5
#6’s starter played at #5
#7’s starter was previously the starter at Ole Miss.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) August 19, 2019
Brian Needs a Kidney
Many have tried to honor our late friend by donating to the Jared Lorenzen Memorial Fund in a variety of ways. There’s another more ambitious way to honor Jared. Another Kentuckian, Brian Craighead, is suffering from renal failure. It’s a big ask, but Brian is willing to do whatever it takes to find a new kidney and sharing this flyer is the least we can do to help.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 20th, 2019 @ 8:00am
This evening, UK broadcasting legend Ralph Hacker was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.
Before that, though, the former Voice of the Wildcats ruffled feathers in a major way during his appearance on the Terry Meiners Show.
On the show, Hacker was asked about his legendary career with the UK Radio Network as a basketball and football analyst, breaking down some of the top sports moments he has had while on the job.
At the tail end of his segment, Meiners brought up John Calipari’s time in Lexington, along with Kyle Macy’s recent controversial comments about the current Kentucky head coach being too focused on the NBA and not enough about doing what is best for the program.
To start with, Hacker complimented Calipari, saying he developed a system and title formula similar to what Eddie Sutton tried during his time in Lexington.
But unlike Sutton, the broadcast legend believes Calipari has gotten the system to work in his favor at Kentucky, with multiple titles almost certainly coming through the program if those elite players stuck around for more than one season.
“What he has done, and people will probably have a hard time drawing this relation, he has recruited every year for an NCAA championship,” he said. “He says it’s for one-and-done, and perhaps it is. But you don’t go [for] one-and-done [guys] unless you have NCAA championship-type players on there. That’s what Sutton tried to do. He had it all planned out to where if he got this player this year, this player, and this player, he could build up a dynasty of where it was just a matter of getting one player the next year and win that NCAA championship many times. Cal has pretty much done that. And if they had stayed [as opposed to entering the draft], he certainly would have done it.”
He added that he likely learned the system during his time in the NBA, seeing the level of talent he would need to win titles at the college level.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Rick [Pitino], he figured it out in the pros. Basically said, if I go [recruit this way] in college, I can do this and get this caliber of player.”
The only issue, according to Hacker, is that the system hasn’t worked because those players are not staying in Lexington for multiple years. Thus, multiple championships haven’t come during Calipari’s time at Kentucky.
And because of that fact, and that fact alone, Hacker stood up for Macy, saying he believes the UK head coach is “shortchanging fans.”
“I know Kyle Macy took a lot of heat for what he said. But I [told him] “I think you’re right.” I said they’re shortchanging the fans by doing what we’re doing now,” he said. “Even though we’re proud of the University of Kentucky basketball team, we cheer for them, pay for the tickets, all that stuff, but in the end, you’re not doing right by the fan.”
To explain his point, he created a hypothetical for Meiners, telling him to imagine a scenario where he took a lazy approach to his radio show until the spotlight was on him when it came time for ratings.
And after a long-winded explanation, he tried to drive the point home that the diehard fans simply want to see more titles in Lexington.
“It’d be like if you decided you were going to come in here and not do your work to get your show done every day and you were going to do just enough to get by,” he said. “Like, “I’m going to have a good show today because it’s ratings week. But after ratings week, I’m not going to do anything.” And maybe that’s a bad analogy, but they’re working their butts off, they’re winning ball games, doing all this stuff, but I still think the people in Kentucky – the further you get from Lexington, the more rabid the fans are – I think they’d like to see championships.”
Long story short, he ultimately defended Macy’s comments, saying those around Lexington may be okay with settling for what we see at Kentucky now, but fans around the state aren’t content with Calipari’s one title in ten years as head coach.
“They don’t see Coach Cal every day, they don’t run into him at Wheeler’s Drug Store,” he said. “They don’t do these things, they don’t get to see Coach Cal. These people, they’d like to see championships. People in [Lexington], maybe they can say, “Coach, you’re doing a really good job and maybe it’s okay if you don’t win them.” Maybe it’s okay? Maybe that’s the way the people of Lexington feel, but I think Macy was right.”
To finish off the segment, he added that despite all of the criticism Macy has received over the last several weeks, he knows that the Kentucky basketball legend is just as passionate about his Wildcats as the rest of us.
“And he loves the Wildcats, he loves the University of Kentucky,” he said. “His children go there. One of them graduated, the other is in school there. Does he love them? He pays the tuition.”
You can listen to Hacker’s entire interview on the Terry Meiners Show here:
By Hayden Hooper on ©August 19th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
KSBar and Grille is the place in Lexington to catch University of Kentucky games (pre and postgame too) as well as other events such as the NBA Playoffs, UFC fights, the World Cup, MLB games, PGA tour events, and more.
KSBar might be known for their smoked wings but don’t miss out on the brisket platter, fried katfish, chicken and waffles, and the great assortment of burgers. Start off with the house chips loaded to the ceiling smothered with pulled pork or chicken straight off the smoker topped with the house BBQ sauce.
Head to the KSBar and Grille website ksbarandgrille.com to see a full menu and drink list.
Be on the look out for different specials and events.
KSBar and Grille is located at: 1030 South Broadway, Lexington, KY 40504
You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
If you are interested in sponsoring KSR’s Top 10 Tweets, please contact us at Via Email.
— Luck ?? (@_lucky2016) August 19, 2019
Can’t wait to see Keion Brooks in that uniform later this fall!
Kentucky Football received 79 votes in the Coaches Preseason Poll.. which would make them 31st overall. #BBN
— Dylan (@dteague23) August 19, 2019
Great start for an amazing year coming up!
#8 Tam Tam
— TamTam (@tlturp) August 19, 2019
Aren’t we all ready for some football?
#7 Vahn Gotti
— Vahn Gotti ? ????? (@KiingDVB) August 19, 2019
#6 Spirit of Big Bertha
— Spirit of Big Bertha (@DANKxBBN) August 19, 2019
Always a good day when Coach Stoops tweets out this GIF!
#5 Josh Henry
— Josh Henry (@BlueHairUKGuy) August 19, 2019
#4 Michael Rains
We are ready for @UKFootball season!!! Season Tickets ?? Parking Pass ?? Jared Lorenzen Shirts ?? ??????@gbbcountry @vaughtsviews @rose_asim @UK_KFund @_KS20_ @KashDaniel15 @BrentW_KSR @JPaschalx @UKCoachStoops @ThrowboyTees @TerryTouchdown3 @UKAthletics @UKTix #bbn #ksr pic.twitter.com/evkU2g27Ys
— Michael Rains (@RuppArenaMike) August 19, 2019
Shirts looking good!
#3 Brennon Hacker
— Brennon Hacker (@BrennonHacker3) August 20, 2019
What a fantastic pick! About to do the same!
#2 Tristan Thompson DMD
— Tristan Thompson DMD (@Tristan_Thomp) August 20, 2019
#1 Josh Henry
Just 12 more days til @UKFootball , what better photos to use than our gifted kicker #12 @chance_poore16 #BlueHairUKGuy @UKAthletics #WeAreUK #BringIt #BBN #ChancePoore #ChanceTheKicker #KSR #KSRTop10 pic.twitter.com/IBE7W31SUR
— Josh Henry (@BlueHairUKGuy) August 19, 2019
WE ARE GETTING CLOSER!
Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: