The summer season for Kentucky football began with more than a hundred campers the Kentucky football facility. Split between the stadium and practice fields, coaches spent more than three hours working with some of their top recruits.
Here’s what we learned, along with a disclaimer: there are no rosters at these events. Figuring out who is who can be difficult, but I think I got all I needed. Check it.
— Jarren Williams went to the Elite 11 Camp. If you didn’t know who he was, all you had to do was see the quarterback’s Elite 11 swag. From his shoes to his backpack, he brought everything from L.A. to Lexington. Williams did not throw today, instead he spent his time talking with Darin Hinshaw and future teammates.
— Williams’ wide receiver dominated. A pair of Central Gwinnett wide receivers made the trip to Kentucky, Jallah Zeze and Khmari Thompson. One player in yellow shorts — I’m almost certain it was Thompson — took on all takers in one-on-one drills and never lost. He caught everything that went his way all over the football field. Only once did he get bested with a bump at the line of scrimmage, and that was by arguably the most talented player at the camp.
— Top 20 Cornerback from Michigan Visits. I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out who the wide-bodied cornerback in adidas cleats was. My Google search led me to Kalon Gervin, the No. 2 player in the state of Michigan, a Top 200 player overall and Top 20 cornerback in the nation.
Gervin is a teammate of DeAndre Square at Cass Tech in Detroit. Square, a safety/outside linebacker, spent the day with Matt House, who often used Square as a teaching example during drills. Gervin received that individual attention from Steve Clinkscale, the UK defensive backs coach and Gervin’s primary recruiter. On one occasion, Clinkscale wouldn’t let Gervin get a water break with the rest of the players until he walked him through some man coverage tricks of the trade.
— “Stay Up.” Those two words were uttered more than any other by Steve Clinkscale during one-on-one period. Everybody wants to be at their best in front of the coaches. After getting beat, a few DBs tackled the WRs instead of letting them run the play out into the end zone.
“You ain’t going to get a scholarship by tackling somebody!” Clinkscale had to yell after his initial instructions were not followed. One of the few who got a scholarship offer was a 2021 recruit, A.J Kirk Jr. from Columbus. Kirk is the younger brother of former NFL and Ohio State DB Mike Doss.
— “Big Dogs.” That was of course what Vince Marrow required the tight ends to say when they broke out of the huddle. Tight end commit Brenden Bates was in Lex, but Keaton Upshaw received most of Marrow’s attention.
“You ever been in a fight?” Marrow asked after seeing Upshaw fire out of his stance for the first time. After Upshaw replied negatively, Marrow implored, “Bring your whole body. STRIKE! PUNCH!”
Upshaw ferociously followed Marrow’s instructions. It was impressive. Normally 6’7″ 17-year old tight ends are gangly pass-catchers. That’s not the case with Upshaw. The Lima, Ohio native is jacked. UK needs a second tight end in the 2018 class and Upshaw would be the perfect fit.
— Talented underclassmen running backs. This is where figuring out names became too difficult. There were some good looking guys working out with Eddie Gran, but differentiating the short, explosive underclassmen from one another was too much to handle. Still, they were much more talented than I anticipated.
— Nepotism. Strength coach Corey Edmund’s son was one of the underclassmen at the camp. A wide receiver, every current player on the field was watching him during one-on-ones. He did not disappoint. After one catch down the sideline, Coach Ed turned to the players and said, “Stay off his back,” causing the crowd to erupt in laughter.
— One Player with Buzz. There was a good crowd of current players at Kroger Field watching today’s activities. Mike Edwards, Derrick Baity, Tobias Gilliam, Kayaune Ross (his younger brother camped), Clevan Thomas, Tymere Dubose, Jamin Davis, Cedrick Dort and A.J. Rose stayed the longest. One player who wasn’t there was the most talked about newcomer: Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald.
Freddie was right, again. The steal of the 2017 class, people around the program marvel at the freshman’s size and work ethic. He is in the weight room every single day, so much so that they’re probably going to have to tell him to slow down soon. Losing Alvonte Bell doesn’t hurt so bad after hearing about the progress of our boy Abule.