Editor’s Note: While the KSR crew is on the ground in Nashville, the man who refuses to ever return to Nashville, Freddie Maggard, met with the Kentucky football team following their third spring practice, the first practice in full pads. The following recap covers yesterday’s Pro Day and today’s meeting with the defense, Freddie’s first using his iPhone’s voice recorder. “I’m basically Bill Gates.”
Kentucky held its annual Pro Day on Wednesday. Eleven former Wildcats attempted to impress NFL scouts who represented 23 organizations. Talent evaluators attended the event to check out a running back. They didn’t leave disappointed as fan-favorite JoJo Kemp stole the show.
Kemp recorded numbers that would have categorized him as a “Top Performer” among all running backs at the NFL Combine:
- 36.5 inch vertical would have been tied for 5th best.
- 23 repetitions of 225-pounds on the bench press would have ranked him tied for 3rd best in Indy.
The Defensive Backs
Marcus McWilson, Blake McClain, and JD Harmon impressed in the weight room and on the turf. While the majority of UK spring practice personnel questions have surrounded how offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will replace homerun hitters Boom Williams and Jeff Badet; an argument could be made that Matt House’s challenge of finding alternatives for the senior trio may be more difficult than previously expected.
- Combined career statistics: 475 total tackles, 14 interceptions. I’ve often asked why former UK LB Chris Chenault hasn’t been inducted in the UK Hall of Fame. For perspective, the 3 senior DB’s combined for 475 total tackles. Chenault finished his career with 482. I hope UK rights that wrong soon. The retired State Trooper’s absence from the Hall of Fame lessens its credibility in my humble opinion.
It was obvious that the DB’s put a great deal of work and focus into Pro Day prep. All three would have been listed as NFL Combine “Top Performers” or Top 10 in the vertical jump. I’d expect all to be invited to an NFL training camp at a minimum. While preparing for Wednesday’s show I was taken back by their career totals. McClain, McWilson, and Harmon may have not starred; but leadership, sustained production, and comprehensive experience will leave a void.
Safety/Nickel Blake McClain played a great deal of football in Lexington. 180 career tackles, 3 interceptions, and 3 QB sacks occurred in 35 starts which presents a plethora of film for NFL evaluations against elite competition. McClain ran in the mid-to-upper 4.4 range and recorded 13 bench press repetitions.
Cornerback/Safety JD Harmon was fluid in position drills after a 4.47-forty. Career numbers: 120 career tackles, 7 INT’s, 7 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and 5 QB hurries.
Safety Marcus McWilson also ran in the upper 4.4-4.5 range, had 19 bench press reps, and posted 34 inch vertical. Career numbers: 175 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1.5 QB sacks, 4 INT’s to include 2 pick 6’s.
Thursday’s Spring Practice
A croaky voiced Matt House addressed non-Nashville media types after his defense was spotted doing up-downs after the morning practice. That’s normally a sign of a unit that did not exactly win the day. Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator said, “Saw some good things and things we gotta clean up.” The Cats were in pads for the first time this spring.
Defensive Tackle Adrian Middleton
Question: Feel good at 275-pounds, is that a good weight for you?
Middleton: “Yeah I feel really good; feel faster, lighter, feel more explosive. Good weight to be at.”
Question: What are you focusing on this spring?
Middleton: “Really trying to develop a pass rush. Last year we didn’t have that many sacks. Something I’m really focusing on, trying to get a better pass rush.”
New DL coach Derrick LeBlanc has raved about Middleton’s work ethic.
Linebacker Jamin Davis
Question: How different is Lexington than Ludowici, Georgia?
Davis: “Much busier town, more things to do here. Mainly I hang out with teammates.”
Question: As an early enrollee, how are you adapting in the classroom and on the field?
Davis: “Grades are doing well, I’m glad I came early. I’m watching the older guys so when my chance comes I want the program to stay successful. Keep a winning record and do the right thing.”
Pre-Signing Day discussion about Davis focused on leadership and high character traits. I can confirm this quality after talking with the true freshman linebacker for the first time. He also said that he reported to UK at 198-pounds and is now up to 214.
Linebacker Kash Daniel was asked about All-SEC LB Jordan Jones. The Paintsville native had the best quote of spring practice, “Expect Jordan to be Jordan. Kinda like the Waterboy.”
The Class of 2014 continued its run on transfers as OLB Kobie Walker intends to depart from the program. By my count that’s 12 transfers from the supposed “best class in school history.”
UK will not practice during spring break. More updates starting back on 21 March.
– Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) March 9, 2017