A wave of excitement crashed over the Big Blue Nation this weekend after the UK basketball team completely annihilated the No. 1 team in the country. The win over Tennessee was nice, and not just for the basketball team.
After focusing on quantity for Junior Day, Vince Marrow emphasized quality while hosting a smaller group of incredibly talented in-state recruits for the Tennessee game.
Four of the state’s top athletes — safety Vito Tisdale, offensive tackle John Young, quarterback Beau Allen and wide receiver Izayah Cummings — spent the day in Lexington with Marrow, Eddie Gran and John Schlarman. The crew received a standing ovation from UK fans at KSBar when they entered the restaurant. During one of the timeouts at Rupp Arena, Kash Daniel’s Super Bowl commercial aired on the Jumbotron.
Young described the experience to Justin Rowland as ‘insane.’ “I’ve never seen an arena like that.”
While they toured the facilities, the group stopped to pose in front of the National Championship trophy. It’s quite an impressive collection of talent. The top four uncommitted players in the state were joined by Warren Central sophomore tight end Jordan Dingle and Rickey Hyatt Jr.
Unlike the others in the photo above, Hyatt Jr. is not from Kentucky, however, he still has a close connection to UK. The three-star safety attends Benny Snell’s old high school, Westerville Central. Snell shared a classroom with Hyatt’s sister and has returned to speak with his team multiple times since he found stardom at UK.
Kentucky also hosted four-star all-purpose back Michael Drennen. A top 250 player in the 2020 class, Drennen attends Dublin Coffman High School, Gunnar Hoak’s alma mater. Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame are considered his top schools. He posed in uniform with a few of his underclassmen teammates.
My Brothas ?? pic.twitter.com/nVRy6ZYKf4
— The “Prodigy”? (@BThreats2) February 18, 2019
Two 2020 Offers
Young isn’t the only talented tackle in UK’s big board. This weekend there Cats offered Omari Young, a 6’4″ 300-pound offensive tackle from Memphis that is considered the No. 124 player overall by ESPN. Young has offers from everybody who’s anybody. UK also offered Jerrold Pough, a three-star safety from Hollywood, Florida.
Before I explain the significance of E.J. Price’s departure, allow me to use this platform to clap back at all the haters. Price’s last appearance in a UK uniform ended prematurely because of a sideline altercation at the Citrus Bowl. When I asked about said altercation in the postgame press conference, I was crucified for being a Debbie Downer. Now he’s gone and I still want to know what set him off on the sideline.
Price performed better than most Blue Chip transfers. In Landon Young’s absence Price started 11 games at left tackle. He was no Young, but Kentucky would not have been as successful if he wasn’t there to fill those big shoes.
Without Price, there’s no panic in John Schlarman’s meeting room. Young is back with Naasir Watkins, who split plenty of snaps with E.J. and was excellent in the Citrus Bowl, prepared to spell him as a reserve. After taking reps at guard in 2018 as a true freshman, Darian Kinnard is expected to replace Big George at right tackle. Aside from 2016, Kentucky has typically stuck with a three-offensive tackle rotation and I expect the same in 2019 with this young, talented trio.
New ESPN FPI Rankings
As you saw Friday night, my favorite advanced college football stats are the S&P+. I might have to flip flop.
Kentucky ranked 37th in the S&P+, while ESPN’s FPI ranks Kentucky 30th entering the 2019 season. Seven spots better is good, but it’s all relative. In each projection UK ranks sixth in the SEC East. The numbers can’t calculate Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri’s ability to consistently underachieve.
Primetime NYT Treatment
Hand up, I don’t receive the print edition of the New York Times. If I did, I would have found this picture of Nik Ognenovic and his father, Steve, gracing the sports section cover on National Signing Day.
Feel free to read the online version of the story that includes the 2019 UK tight end signee here.
Spurrier don’t give AAF
You already read Drew’s post, but I couldn’t let the excellent header go to waste. What you may have missed from that game is who Spurrier’s team came back to beat: Logan Woodside.
The Frankfort native led the nation in passing touchdowns in 2016 with 45 as Toledo’s quarterback. Drafted in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Bengals, Woodside was arrested for a DUI before completing his first NFL minicamp. In spite of the off the field hiccup, he remained with the Bengals until the final cut.
After watching a few AAF games, it’s not hard to tell that Woodside is one of the best passers in the league. Yesterday he completed 20-of-39 passes for 223 yards, a touchdown (which should have been two, if not for an embarrassing drop), an interception and a two-point conversion. Through two hames Woodside is second in the AAF in passing yards with 478. His tape should get him another shot at cracking an NFL roster.
In his second week of action, Kayaune Ross made it into a box score. The former Wildcat receiver caught one pass for seven yards in another Memphis Express loss. All the blame should fall on Christian Hackenburg’s incapable shoulders.
20 Pounds of Poop
I’ll close this chapter of the MNF Notebook with a clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, inspired by former Wildcat C.J. Johnson.
Our client CJ "Poop" Johnson makes his late night debut. We shit you not! pic.twitter.com/VugzRz9tfY
— Lawrence McGivney (@LMcGivney) February 16, 2019