UK football notebook

Notebook: Mossakowski's shoulder healing

Herald-Leader Staff WriterMay 31, 2009 

Rich Brooks returned from the annual Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin on Friday, and there weren't many new developments from a news standpoint. Of course, new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and his winter-spring bravado was a hot topic, as was an apparent confrontation between Kiffin and South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier on Tuesday. But other than that, the only newsworthy item came courtesy of ESPN.com's Chris Low, who reported that the league is considering putting a cap on how many football players a program can sign each year. Schools are technically allowed 25 signees, but Mississippi signed a whopping 37 recruits this year while Arkansas inked 32.

As for Brooks and his program, the attention now shifts to summer school and off-season workouts. The second summer session begins on June 11, with veterans and most of the 2009 signing class arriving on campus over the next week or so.

Incoming freshman quarterback Ryan Mossakowski will arrive in Lexington on June 9. Mossakowksi, who's considered a potential Major League Baseball prospect, saw his prep career on the diamond come to an end with a loss in the Texas high school playoffs two weekends ago. Mossakowski is an outfielder, but surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder limited him to a designated-hitter role for the second half of the season.

As for the football field, Mossakowski said, he suffered a minor setback a couple of months ago and still has a ways to go before he's 100 percent. He said the UK coaching staff has indicated that they'd prefer for him to redshirt if the shoulder's not completely healed by the start of fall camp, but Mossakowski said he's going to do everything he can to get himself ready for the 2009 season.

Mossakowski was listed by Rivals.com as having the second-strongest arm in the senior class behind Southern California signee Matt Barkley before the injury. Mossakowski said he expects his deep ball to return at full strength but noted that his biggest asset was the ability to throw sideline-to-sideline.

"The shoulder feels good," he said. "I've been throwing quite awhile trying to build (the shoulder) back up to where it was. The process is kind of slow. When I first started to throw again, it looked like I had never thrown a football in my life. I think the coaches are concerned about my shoulder and just want what's best long-term. But I've still got close to two months. That won't put me in the best spot at the start of camp, but we'll just have to see what happens. I'm a competitor so I want to play no matter what, but certain things happen that you can't really control."

More LaGrange prospects on the horizon

UK is once again heavily involved with players from LaGrange in Georgia. Joker Phillips, head coach for offense, was at LaGrange earlier this month, and two players who are on the Wildcats' radar are quarterback Jamius Gunsby and kicker Joe Mansour.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Gunsby is listed as an athlete by the recruiting services, but LaGrange Coach Steve Pardue said Gunsby is a big-time QB prospect at the next level.

"He's a quarterback," Pardue said. "People look at his size and athletic ability, and the fact that he's good in basketball and track and think of other positions he could play, but he's a quarterback."

Florida recently offered Gunsby a scholarship, and Pardue said the Florida coaching staff told him that Gunsby would be a perfect fit for Urban Meyer's spread offense. Gunsby said his top six schools at the moment are Florida State, Florida, Oregon, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia.

UK signed two highly touted prep quarterbacks this year in Mossakowski and Morgan Newton and will have four scholarship quarterbacks (not counting Randall Cobb) in 2010. But Pardue said he expects Phillips back in LaGrange at some point later in the year and would be surprised if Kentucky didn't eventually offer a scholarship to Gunsby.

Mansour, who punts and place-kicks, is a two-time All-State selection and could fill a glaring need for the Cats in 2010. Kicker Lones Seiber is in his last year of eligibility, which would leave Ryan Tydlacka as the only scholarship kicker on the roster in 2010.

Mansour averaged 41 yards a punt and was 6-for-11 on field goals and 32-for-37 on extra points. Pardue said Mansour's biggest asset is his leg strength, with 78 percent of his kickoffs finding the end zone.

"We were playing our rival Troupe in the biggest game of the year, and it was tie game, and he nailed a 50-yard field goal, but the left guard moved," Pardue said. "They moved it back five yards, and he nailed it from 55. So not only does he have a strong leg, but he's clutch."

Huzzie, Johnson on the way; Merritt still has work to do

Two LaGrange signees from 2008, linebackers Qua Huzzie and Tristan Johnson, are set to arrive on campus for summer school and participate in team workouts. A third LaGrange signee, defensive end Demetri Merritt, is still trying to qualify and could end up at Southwest Mississippi Community College, which is where 2007 UK signee Mychal Bailey has been attending. Pardue said Bailey is trying to complete coursework that would allow him to enroll at UK in January 2010. Bailey was 6-foot-1, 190 pounds when he signed with the Cats but has put on 20 pounds and could play safety, linebacker or cornerback in college.

Another Boyd on the rise

Expect to be reading about another standout athlete from the Boyd family in the coming years. Kamari Boyd, the younger sister of former UK quarterback Shane Boyd and current receiver Aaron Boyd, is a seventh-grader at Winburn Middle School and ranked No. 1 in the nation among middle-schoolers in the 300 hurdles.

Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. He can be reached by e-mail at ccosby@herald-leader.com.

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