Today is a milestone in KSR history. Yes, it means that we are only 10 days from the 7th Anniversary of the site’s existence. But more importantly, today is the 3rd Anniversary of one Drew Franklin’s addition into the KSR family. For those of you that don’t remember Drew’s origins, he came to us from a blog that he had previously started (the Horace Grant Halftime Report). I discovered him thanks to his many hilarious posts and his tendency to write about ridiculous situations in the Lexington area. I asked him to join KSR and that decision has been, absent the decision to start the blog in the first instance, the most important in the site’s history. I don’t need to tell you that Drew is unbelievably funny, a great writer and one of those people that makes friends everywhere he goes. But what you may not know is that behind the facade of ridiculousness, is a guy that works extremely hard and cares deeply about what ends up on this site everyday and entertaining UK fans. He has run KSR as its main editor for over a year and during that time, he has helped take it to its highest level of hits, attention and importance. And on a personal level, in addition to all of that, he most importantly has become a great friend. KSR would not exist in its current form, nor would have had scenes like the one below (the morning of the NCAA Championship game when 400 people came to a bar in New Orleans to watch the radio show) without him. so we salute Drew Franklin, his beard and the small high school uniform of Travis Ford that he keeps in his basement, for all that he has become over the last three years. Drew is still very likely to be found at Tin Roof or Drakes, but he is also now the most read person writing about UK sports anywhere. That may be scary to some of you, but to me, it is very well deserved and emblematic of just how talented he truly is.
And with that schmaltz, we move to the news of the day:
— It was a relatively slow news day today around UK land, as students get ready to move in and UK sororities begin rushing each other left and right. On the football side, the biggest story is that Joker Phillips made clear that he has not yet picked a starter for the opening game. This comes on the heels of a number of comments on Saturday that seemed to suggest Maxwell Smith had clearly taken over as #1, with Morgan Newton second on the depth chart. According to Joker today however, the competition is still that, and there is time for Morgan to make a move. While that is an understandable sentiment by Joker, I would still be shocked if we dont see Max Smith under Center for the opening game. He has looked good in practice and, most importantly, seems to have the support and faith of his teammates. Plus, the pressure on Newton if he were to be the starter walking into Papa Johns Stadium, might be too much to handle. Chances are high that both young men will see time this year and if that is going to be the case, the Smith-Newton order seems much more likely to have success than Newton-Smith. And as for Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow? Both are Freshmen and by all indications are playing as such…at this point, they are not yet in the hunt to take the opening snap.
— If you talk to the UK coaches, the one place they fell very good about right now is the Running Back position, where Kentucky believes they have six guys that can play. Between Raymond Sanders, Coshik Williams, Jonathan George, Josh Clemons and Freshmen Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor, the Cats feel that at no time this year should depth be an issue at the RB position. All six guys are getting first team reps and today Joker Phillips made clear that he believes the Freshmen will get snaps in games. Over the past two years, one of the problems for Kentucky has been ineffective play at the skill positions, but the coaches promised that once the young talent developed, you would see a huge jump in the play at RB and WR. While most of the talent at the Receiver position is still untested, one can see Running Back actually being a strength on this team. I talked to someone associated with the program today who told me, “our Running Backs are going to be the strength of the offense…and it could be any of the six. We won’t know until the games start which one.” Not a bad problem to have.
— On the basketball side of things, guess who is back in the news? Yes that is correct, Tony Trocha is once again considering playing basketball this year! Trocha’s high school coach said that Trocha will be eligible at the end of the fall semester and plans on enrolling at a school in December. Kentucky has offered him and according to his coach, they would be interested in him joining at that time. Now we haven’t yet heard anything from the UK end to confirm this, and to be fair, we won’t. However the idea of adding another player is something that I do think the coaches are actively considering and Trocha is talented enough to make an impact. And with Central Florida’s Keith Clanton looking more and more likely to stay in Orlando (according to Andy Katz), maybe we need to get more Colombian knowledge in case Trocha decides to head this way in December.
— Finally, it looks as if the UNC academic scandal is getting some traction. Of course in today’s internet world, the way that it has to happen is with something odd occurring. In this case, it was Julius Peppers’ transcript coming out, showing a student with a 1.8 GPA and some bogus classes as well. While Peppers should be mad at UNC (how in the world did this transcript get online) and we can wonder a bit about his class choices (really Swahili and Stagecraft?), the bigger issue is UNC. It is clear that the cheating for football and parts of basketball was systematic. Will the NCAA step up and do something, or will it fall by the wayside? The local media in North Carolina have been the only entities to seem to care about the story…now we will see if this inadvertent transcript link changes things.
It was a fun day today in Paintsville and tomorrow we will be in Somerset. I remind everyone that on Friday we will be in downtown West Liberty, the site of the deadly tornado. We will be pointing people to places to donate for relief efforts and showcasing the heart of a town that has been through a lot. Make sure and listen for what I think will be one of the most important KSR shows ever. Until then, see you tomorrow….