The University of Kentucky appears close to wrapping up its 2009 recruiting class.
Kentucky received commitments last week from Florida running back Donald Russell and Texas linebacker Ryan Mosby, raising its total to 23. UK is still awaiting word from at least two prospects.
Kentucky is currently the leader for Harbor (Calif.) Community College defensive end DeQuin Evans, a teammate of receiver and UK commit Chris Matthews. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Evans, a four-star recruit, is visiting Louisville this weekend but told Rivals.com that the Wildcats are at the top of his list.
UK is also awaiting a decision from Georgia tight end Terrell Mitchell, who is visiting Michigan this weekend and will take a trip to Miami (Fla.) next weekend. Georgia is believed to be Mitchell's favorite, but he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Bulldogs have yet to extend a scholarship offer.
One area the Wildcats haven't addressed with this class is the secondary, and one of their targets, Memphis cornerback Gene Robinson, committed to North Carolina last weekend. But with cornerback Trevard Lindley returning for his senior year, and cornerback Paul Warford set to return after sitting out the 2008 season, the defensive backfield isn't a pressing need. The Wildcats will bring back six scholarship corners and five safeties with playing experience next fall.
Managing the numbers
According to the Liberty Bowl roster, UK is set to return 66 scholarship players in 2009. The Wildcats could exceed the NCAA allotment of 25 scholarships, but only 25 players will be allowed to enroll in the fall. Kentucky also cannot go over the limit of 85 scholarship players, so it might have to consider grayshirting a few signees (delaying enrollment until January 2010, which would allow UK to count the player toward its 2010 class).
Boyle County tight end Jordan Aumiller told the Danville Advocate-Messenger last week that he accepted the Kentucky coaching staff's request to grayshirt. Attrition is an issue every off-season, so that number of 66 returning players could change between now and the start of fall camp.
Locke progressing well
UK sophomore running back Derrick Locke is making steady progress in his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury that required ligament reconstruction and could be ready to go by the start of the 2009 season.
Locke hurt his knee in the Arkansas game, and early speculation suggested that he might need a medical redshirt next fall. Locke will sit out spring practice, but UK Coach Rich Brooks listed summer as an optimistic target date for his return.
"His rehab has gone well to this point," UK spokesman Tony Neely said. "We are hopeful that he will be able to play in 2009, but that will be determined at a later date as his rehabilitation progresses.'
Rumph, Bailey updates
A quick update on a pair of recent UK signees: South Carolina defensive end Donte Rumph and LaGrange (Ga.) safety Mychal Bailey. Rumph, who signed with UK last February, is currently at Fork Union Military Academy and said last week that he will re-sign with the Cats on Feb. 4. Rumph and DeQuin Evans, if he signs with Kentucky, would give Kentucky some much-needed depth at defensive end alongside Jeremy Jarmon.
Bailey, who signed with UK in 2007, just completed his first season at Southwest Mississippi Junior College and earned All-Conference honors, said his high school coach, Steve Pardue. Bailey has one more year at Southwest Mississippi after redshirting his freshman year and is on the Cats' radar for the 2010 class.
Williams, Pryor play well in Shrine Game
UK defensive tackle Myron Pryor and linebacker Johnny Williams helped lead the East team to a 24-19 victory in the East-West Shrine Game last Saturday in Houston.
Williams had four tackles, including one at the 15-yard line on the opening kickoff. Pryor had six tackles, including the only sack of the game, and also assisted on another tackle for loss.
Williams, who is working out in Cleveland, hopes to go in the fifth or sixth round in April's NFL Draft. He played linebacker and defensive end in his final season at UK and is projected as a 4-3 outside linebacker.
Williams said he's talked to several teams and is prepping for the NFL Combine and UK's Pro Day. He said his draft hopes hinge on his 40-yard dash time, which he wants to get in the 4.5-4.6-second range. Williams has leaned on former Wildcat and current St. Louis Rams receiver Keenan Burton to help deal with the nuances of preparing for the draft.
"It's a crazy process because you never know what's going on," Williams said. "But everybody I've talked to told me I really helped myself in the game. I felt like I had to show that I could pass drop and cover, along with taking care of my assignments."
McClinton to play in Texas vs. Nation game
UK free safety Marcus McClinton will play in the third annual Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game on Jan. 31 in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas.
McClinton led the Wildcats with four interceptions in 2008. He had 10 picks in his career, fourth-most in school history. McClinton has been assigned to the Texas team and will wear jersey No. 22. The game will be televised on the CBS College Sports cable channel. Former UK offensive lineman Eric Scott participated last year.
Spring Game on April 25
The Blue/White Spring Game will be played April 25 at Commonwealth Stadium. Kickoff time will be set at a later date.
Seniors to sign autographs
Dicky Lyons Jr. and Liberty Bowl hero Ventrell Jenkins will be among more than a dozen UK seniors who will sign autographs on Sunday at Cat Fan Attic in Turfland Mall. The signing will be from 2-4:30 p.m. Also expected to attend are Tim Masthay, Braxton Kelley, Tony Dixon and David Jones. The event is free to meet players and to take photos. There is a charge for autographs: $10 for an individual player and $25 for a "Super Ticket" to get signatures of all players. Fans can bring their own items to have signed.
Chip Cosby covers University of Kentucky football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org