UK football notebook

Cats in no rush with football recruiting

UK has only two commitments for 2010, but it's still early

Herald-Leader Staff WriterJuly 5, 2009 

Kentucky has only two known 2010 commitments to date, Georgia kicker/punter Joe Mansour and South Carolina defensive lineman Justin Henderson, which ties the team with Mississippi for the lowest number in the Southeastern Conference.

Considering the Cats had six commitments at this time last year (Sam Simpson, Jordan Aumiller, LaRod King, Larry Warford, Justin Bean and Kevin Mitchell), is it time to start worrying about the 2010 class?

Not necessarily.

There are several factors to consider. First, four of those early commitments last year were in-state players, and 2010 looks like a down year for prep football in the state of Kentucky. So expect UK to fill its 2010 class with more out-of-staters than usual.

Also, the UK coaching staff has made a living off developing two-star prospects into prime-time players. That doesn't mean UK doesn't want the four- and five-star kids; it usually takes non-traditional powers a little longer to give their sales pitch and convince top prospects to jump on board.

For example, 11 of Florida's 15 early commitments are from four- or five-star recruits. Meanwhile, none of Vanderbilt's 12 commitments have more than three stars.

Kentucky, riding the momentum of three straight bowl victories, is trying to get involved with more elite prospects. Its No. 1 target at wide receiver is Dyjuan Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Indianapolis who is listed as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. UK is also one of three schools that has offered Memphis offensive lineman O.C. Brown, another Rivals four-star prospect. And UK is on the long list of another four-star wideout, Georgia's Markeith Ambles. The Cats lost out on one of their top defensive-line targets when four-star lineman Jibreel Black (Wyoming, Ohio) chose Indiana, where his brother Larry plays.

A lot of the top prospects who don't commit early like to take their time and milk the recruiting process for all it's worth, and who can blame them? But there's a big difference between getting your foot in the door and getting all the way in the door. The Wildcats went down to the wire with Male defensive back Justin Green last year and thought they had a good shot before Green announced for Illinois (he had previously committed to Ohio State) on national signing day.

Another thing to keep in mind: UK has been known to "sit on" commitments, which means it asks prospects to keep their commitments quiet in the media. This is often done with lesser-known prospects to prevent other programs from discovering and raiding their diamonds in the rough.

The number of commitments for each Southeastern Conference program:

Alabama 16, Louisiana State 15, Florida 15, Georgia 12, South Carolina 12, Vanderbilt 12, Tennessee 11, Auburn 8, Arkansas 6, Mississippi State 5, Mississippi 2, Kentucky 2.

UK offers scholarship to another LaGrange player

Joe Mansour gave Kentucky another product from the powerhouse LaGrange (Ga.) program when he committed last week. Mansour will join four LaGrange alumni already in the UK program: cornerback Randall Burden, linebacker Qua Huzzie, linebacker Tristan Johnson and kicker Pat Simmons.

Huzzie, a big hitter with speed, could see action as a true freshman on special teams. He also figures to contend for a spot in the linebacker rotation because there's no proven depth behind starters Micah Johnson, Danny Trevathan and Sam Maxwell.

Kentucky has also extended an offer to Mansour's high school teammate, quarterback Jamius Gunsby. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Gunsby is coming off a solid showing at the Elite 11 Regional in Las Vegas.

Gunsby was offered the scholarship after attending camp at UK last month. He also has offers from Florida and Troy.

Another former LaGrange product, safety Mychal Bailey, is finishing up coursework at Southwest Mississippi Junior College this fall with hopes of enrolling at Kentucky in January. Bailey signed with UK in 2007 before going to Southwest Mississippi.

Lyons update

Former UK receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. continues to audition for NFL teams after suffering a season-ending knee injury midway through last season.

Lyons recently worked out for the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, and he has a workout scheduled with his hometown New Orleans Saints.

Lyons has been working out in Kenner, La., under speed and fitness coach Duke Rousse. Lyons said he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash for the Bills last month but didn't run in Atlanta. Lyons said he's getting closer to his normal 40-yard time, which he listed as 4.43.

"I feel 100 percent health-wise, and I think my speed, timing and route-running is only going to get better," he said. "Trust me, I'm back. I've been working out five days a week, six hours a day, and I'm in the best shape in my life."

Lyons said he hopes to be in an NFL camp in late July but, if not, he's confident he'll get a call at some point once players start getting cut or injured.

"I'm on a lot of teams' short lists," Lyons said. "All I'm doing is taking it one day at a time. I can't control what teams are going to do. I can control preparing myself so that I can be 100 percent ready when I get that call. I know I'll be in a camp. I'm 50 percent sure I'll be somewhere at the beginning of camp, and 100 percent sure I'll be somewhere before the end of camp."

Media Days schedule

We're a little more than six weeks away from SEC Media Days, the official start of college football season in the Southeast. Here's a list of teams, players and coaches scheduled to address the media in Birmingham July 22-24:

■ Wednesday, July 22 — Arkansas (Coach Bobby Petrino, DT Malcolm Sheppard, TE D.J. Williams); Vanderbilt (Coach Bobby Johnson, C Bradley Vierling, CB Myron Lewis); Mississippi State (Coach Dan Mullen, OT Derek Sherrod, LB K.J. Wright); Kentucky (Coach Rich Brooks, OT Zipp Duncan, CB Trevard Lindley).

■ Thursday, July 23 — Alabama (Coach Nick Saban, OL Mike Johnson, LB Rolando McClain) Georgia (Coach Mark Richt, QB Joe Cox, DT Jeff Owens); Mississippi (Coach Houston Nutt, QB Jevan Snead, DE Greg Hardy); Florida (Coach Urban Meyer, QB Tim Tebow, LB Brandon Spikes).

■ Friday, July 24 — Auburn (Coach Gene Chizik, TE Tommy Trott, DE Antonio Coleman), South Carolina (Coach Steve Spurrier, WR Moe Brown, LB Eric Norwood), LSU (Coach Les Miles, OT Ciron Black, LB Jacob Cutrera), Tennessee (Coach Lane Kiffin, DB Eric Berry, TB Montario Hardesty).

Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. Reach him at ccosby@herald-leader.com.

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