Notebook

UK football notebook: SEC Media Days get football buzzing again

SEC Media Days get football buzzing again

Herald-Leader Staff WriterJuly 25, 2010 

  • 2010 schedule

    (Home games in capital letters; All times Eastern and p.m.)

    Date Opponent Time

    Sept. 4 At Louisville 3:30

    Sept. 11W. Kentucky7:30

    Sept. 18Akron7

    Sept. 25 At Florida TBA

    Oct. 2 At Mississippi TBA

    Oct. 9AuburnTBA

    Oct. 16South CarolinaTBA

    Oct. 23GeorgiaTBA

    Oct. 30 At Miss. State TBA

    Nov. 6Charleston SO.TBA

    Nov. 13VanderbiltTBA

    Nov. 27 At Tennessee TBA

Another Southeastern Conference Football Media Days is in the books, which means fall camp is right on the horizon. UK players report to campus Aug. 5, with the first practice Aug. 6. The Wildcats' first day in full pads will be Aug. 10.

The 11 other SEC teams open practice anywhere between Aug. 2 and Aug. 8.

Back to Media Days, thankfully we had interim Vanderbilt Coach Robbie Caldwell to spare us after the agent controversy overkill of opening day. Other than that, there was no earth-shattering news besides trying to figure out who voted for Kentucky as the SEC Champion (it wasn't me.).

A couple of other interesting themes were floating around. Facilities, which have been in the news locally with former UK coach Rich Brooks saying the school needs to make more of a commitment, were also a hot topic.

Mississippi Coach Houston Nutt was asked whether he was disappointed there hadn't been more talk of an expansion on Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"We have good facilities," Nutt said. "I think (expansion) is coming. I really do. It wasn't too long ago where they weren't even half full. When we got there, we had our first sellout last year. I think we're on target to sell out again this year. It will be the first time ever in history for Ole Miss to sell out back-to-back seasons, so I think you have to sell out what you have first on a consistent basis."

Auburn joined Alabama in pouring in more than $26 million to facilities upgrades during the 2008-09 calendar year, and the Tigers were able to attract a national top-five recruiting class in February.

"When you talk about facilities upgrades, that's where I think administratively we have a great vision, starting with our president, Jay Jacobs, and everybody involved," Auburn Coach Gene Chizik said. "I think obviously it's huge. You only have one time to make a first impression when somebody comes on your campus. When we walk in and have the 'wow' factor with whatever they're looking at, it's big."

With players constantly breaking news and expressing sometimes controversial thoughts and opinions on Facebook and Twitter, social networking also was discussed.

Nutt said he had to talk to a couple of his players last fall.

"I didn't like some of the things that were on there," he said. "They said, 'Coach, it's the name of a song.' I said, 'I don't like the name of the song then.' "

Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino makes all of his players become Facebook friends with his director of football operations, Mark Robinson.

"We had an incident last year where we had a young man that had to go in and get something done to his thumb; nothing big," Petrino said. "I get a phone call about 6:30 at night that says, Hey, (receiver) Cobi Hamilton put on his Facebook that he's getting his thumb operated on. Not that it's a big deal, but it's nice not to put things like that out there."

Bean re-ups with UK

Junior-college wide receiver Justin Bean recommitted to UK last week, according to Catspause.com. Bean, who signed with UK in 2009 but did not qualify academically, has been at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Bean was a two-star recruit out of Tupelo (Miss.) High School and told Catspause.com that he plans to enroll at UK in January.

Phillips addresses coaching staff changes

UK Coach Joker Phillips made his third staff change since taking over for Rich Brooks when he fired special teams/tight ends coach Steve Ortmayer and replaced him with Greg Nord earlier this month. Phillips had already let go of two of Brooks' holdovers, Rick Petri and Jimmy Heggins, and replaced them with David Turner and Mike Summers.

Phillips talked about those moves at SEC Media Days.

"I had to make some hard-core decisions in that area," he said "The No. 1 thing I was looking at is, 'Can he recruit?' The second thing is, 'Can he teach?' The third thing was, 'Can he connect with the players we have at Kentucky?' And the last thing was, 'Does he have the juice — the energy, enthusiasm, and passion — for the job at Kentucky.'"

True freshmen to watch

With players set to report in less than two weeks, here's a look at several freshmen who could be playing key roles at fall camps across the SEC. This list isn't necessarily based on rankings, but on who's in position to step in and play immediately.

DeMarcus Milliner, CB, Alabama: Milliner participated in spring practice and figures to contend for the open cornerback spots left by NFL Draft picks Kareem Jackson and Javier Arenas.

Ronald Powell, DE, Florida: Viewed by many as the No. 1 prospect in the country, the Gators are talking about using the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Powell at both tight end and defensive end.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier is looking for this consensus All-American to finally add some spark to what has been a stagnant running game.

Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee: No one knows for sure if and when Rogers will see the field after his involvement in the infamous bar fight. But if he does suit up, he should be an immediate impact player.

Joe Mansour, K, Kentucky: Mansour isn't as highly touted as the other players on this list, but he made Georgia's "All-Decade Team," and will be given every opportunity to be Kentucky's place-kicker out of the gate.

Cobb nominated for AFCA Good Works Team

Kentucky junior Randall Cobb has been nominated for the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works team, which recognizes community service.

Cobb has participated in numerous projects.

Following a visit with 13-year-old leukemia patient Bradley Wilson, Cobb shaved his head for UK's bowl game as a tribute to the teen. He also mentors local youth, speaking at area schools and visiting patients at regional hospitals, and served as guest speaker at a Chi Omega Dinner that benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation to support terminally ill children.

The 11-player team will be announced in late November. Past members include NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

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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