Sixteen incoming freshmen enrolled in summer school last week and will begin off-season workouts with the team. UK Coach Rich Brooks said that number includes a couple of walk-ons. The remaining members of the recruiting class scheduled to arrive in the summer will report for the second eight-week session later this month. Freshmen already enrolled include quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski, linebacker Qua Huzzie, defensive end Ryan Mosby, and offensive linemen Kevin Mitchell and Sam Simpson.
Newton and Simpson are roommates and could be potential battery mates down the road with Simpson snapping the ball to Newton.
Team workouts also began last week, with Newton and Mossakowski participating in their first pass skeleton (7-on-7) drills.
"I felt pretty good considering I'm just getting started," said Newton, who was honored as the Indianapolis Star Suburban Male Athlete of the Year at the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball games Saturday in Conseco Fieldhouse. "I was here in the spring at practices and I've been learning the plays, but being out there throwing is different. I feel like I can get adjusted pretty quick, though."
Summer workouts are closed to both the media and the public.
Brooks said Wednesday that Mossakowski is expected to be cleared for full contact once fall camp begins in August. Mossakowski had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder last winter. When asked if he'd rather redshirt Mossakowski if he's not fully healthy, Brooks said, "I wouldn't rather redshirt anybody. With all of our freshmen, I wait to see them on the field and judge if they're ready to help us or not."
One signee who's not on campus yet is defensive end Donte Rumph, who's still waiting word on his eligibility. Brooks said last week that Rumph still has a class to complete at Fork Union and is awaiting the results of his latest standardized test scores. "It's a situation where we're just going to have to wait and see," Brooks said.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Rumph originally signed with UK in February 2008 but instead enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy before re-signing with the Cats in 2009. Rumph, a three-star recruit when he came out of Calhoun County (S.C.) High School, would probably challenge for immediate playing time at defensive end. The Wildcats don't have any experience at the position after senior-to-be Jeremy Jarmon was ruled ineligible by the NCAA upon testing positive for a banned substance.
Cats lose three more
The off-season brings attrition to just about every college football program, and while UK's 2009 roster won't be official until both summer-school sessions are completed, the Cats have already had some defections.
First there was Jarmon's situation, and then the school announced Friday that receiver E.J. Adams, tight end Chris Cessna and quarterback DeAunte Mason were no longer on the team.
Cessna's and Mason's departures were not surprising. Cessna never seemed to fully recover from multiple knee injuries and will finish his education at UK on a medical scholarship. Mason didn't seem to buy into his switch from quarterback to tight end in the spring and will look to transfer to somewhere he can play QB.
Kentucky still has its top three tight ends back in Ross Bogue, T.C. Drake and Maurice Grinter.
Adams' departure, which was for personal reasons per UK's official announcement, was the most surprising. The senior was one of UK's most experienced receivers and was listed as a starter on the spring depth chart. That gives junior-college standout Chris Matthews an even bigger opening to step into opposite Randall Cobb, with Kyrus Lanxter, Gene McCaskill and Eric Adeyemi also in the mix. Sophomores Aaron Boyd, E.J. Fields and Matt Roark might have to fight it out for a rotation spot.
Based on what we know now, UK has 62 returning scholarship players, although that number could change between now and the start of fall camp. That would allow Kentucky to bring in 23 newcomers in the fall. The Wildcats signed 27 players in their 2009 class.
Brooks on Jarmon, supplements
Rich Brooks spoke out on the Jeremy Jarmon case last week, saying that he felt the penalty for Jarmon was too harsh.
"I'm upset that (stores) are allowed to sell things like that, but I understand why the NCAA has to rule they way they do," Brooks said. "I'm sure they've heard every story in the book. But (Jarmon's) penalty, especially when you consider he re-tested clean six weeks later, seemed to be very severe on the fact that other people get away with a lot of things off the field that seem to me to be a heck of a lot worse."
Brooks also said he believes the university, the athletic department, and the training and coaching staffs have acted with due diligence with regard to informing student-athletes of the risks of purchasing over-the-counter supplements.
"We always have been (diligent)," Brooks said. "That's why Jeremy felt so bad because he didn't check or clear what he bought with the right people. We instruct our players continuously to let us know before they decide to use any type of supplement. That's why we have to have documentation on everything. An example of that is if a kid is taking some medication for asthma or has some type of condition. If they test him positive, at least there's an explanation that states that it's required by a doctor for health reasons. We're very up front with our players."
Brooks: "We will be a better team"
The pre-season magazine pundits have spoken, and most have predicted a fifth- or sixth-place finish in the SEC East for the Wildcats in 2009. Rich Brooks has never shied away from pulling out the crystal ball, and his assessments have typically been on the money.
His lone miss came when he thought he could get his first UK team into a bowl and came up short, but he was brutally honest in his prognostications while he fought through the probation years. His prediction for UK's first bowl in seven years came true in 2006, and he successfully forecasted bowl eligibility in 2007 and 2008.
As for 2009, Brooks expects the Cats to improve on last year's 7-6 record and last-place division finish, and he is basing that theory on A) what he expects to be a significantly improved offense, and B) several talented young defensive players he thinks are ready to step in and contribute, like safety Winston Guy, linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback Randall Burden.
"We will be a better team than we were last year, even with the loss of Jarmon and some of our other solid players on defense," he said. "I was very pleased with what I saw in the spring with the ability of some of our young players, and with a significant up-step in playing time, we think those guys will be very good."
"Bear's Boys" reunion this weekend
The "Bear's Boys," former University of Kentucky football players under Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, will have a reunion Friday and Saturday in Lexington.
At least 30 of the Bear's Boys plan to attend the event. Among the returnees who have committed to participate are quarterback/place-kicker George Blanda, who guided the Wildcats to their first bowl game (and win) in school history and went on to the longest career in pro football history; All-America quarterback Babe Parilli, who led UK to consecutive appearances in the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls; and UK football/basketball legend Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, the only player to have his jersey retired in both sports.
Bryant was the head coach at Kentucky from 1946-53. UK compiled a 60-23-5 record during those eight seasons, including the Wildcats' first four bowl games, and went 11-1 with a Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma in 1950.
Kentucky football signee Brian Adams was selected by the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday in the 45th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Adams will start out at receiver in football for the Cats and is considering playing baseball at UK.
Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.