One of the great things when you are from a small town is to watch a person from your area make it big. Thus I got pretty excited today when I was pointed to an article in the Middlesboro Daily News (the first media entity for which I ever wrote an article) about Bell County High School’s kicker Monte Merrick. Merrick is getting attention as he is ranked as one of the ten best kickers in America after a strong showing at a camp this summer. He is being recruited now by Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Penn State and Kentucky and told the Daily News that if Kentucky would offer, he would commit immediately. Because UK currently has two kickers on scholarship for 09, an offer may not be forthcoming….which makes me very sad, because we need Bell County boys in blue.
I went to Middlesboro High School, but the tradition of guys from Bell County playing for the Cats goes back a bit. Greg Page. a native of Middlesboro, was the first black athlete on UK’s football team and in the SEC. He was unfortunately killed after a freak practice collision and later, his name was dedicated on the apartments on UK’s campus. Page’s role in the integration of the SEC cannot be understated and he remains one of the true heroes of UK’s athletics past. Guys like Travis Powers, Durrell White and Dallas Greer have been on the roster in recent years and the best field goal kicker the state has had in a long time, Dustin Wynn, came to Lexington, but wasnt able to make grades. I am excited to hear the Bell County kicking tradition continues (next to Cumberland Gap, kicking is the biggest tourist attraction in the area) and I am pulling for Merrick. I hope the Cats end up offering, but if not, I will still be pulling for this kid wherever he goes.
And in other news, Bell County invades Lexington this year as Bell County plays Tates Creek, and for reasons that are not clear to me, my alma mater, the vaunted Middlesboro High School Yellow Jackets play Paul Laurence Dunbar. Get ready for a good ole’ Eastern Kentucky beatdown!